Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mother's Day by the River

 As a child growing up one of the things my family liked to do was take long camping trips.  We would pack up the tents and the sleeping bags in the station wagon and head off on road trips that would last for several weeks as we visited the various national forests and campgrounds across the country.  Today, I don't have to drive across the country to get to the forest.  It's right in my own backyard just a 20 minute drive away.

My mother loved our camping trips and so for Mother's Day last weekend we took her for a drive out to the woods for an afternoon by the river.  At 83, she isn't as spry as she once was but with a little help she was able to make it down to the riverbank.

There is a bit of pioneer history back here.  Homesteaders once mined this area for silver and logged the old growth timber.  In fact, the town I live in originally sprang up around a lumber mill.

 Today it's a nature preserve filled with hiking trails and campgrounds. I love wandering through the moss covered trees and along paths lined with ferns.

By late summer these wild huckleberry bushes will be covered with small red berries.  It takes a long time to gather enough but if you have the patience to do it, they make wonderful pie.

It was peaceful just watching the river flowing by.  The water splashed quickly over the rocks in some places before opening up into calmer waters.

We spent a couple of hours enjoying the sunshine, skipping rocks across the water, and walking along the riverbank.    

Our beautiful daughter

Skipping Rocks

Doesn't this rock look like a giant turtle heading into the water?

 We ended our day by going home to a picnic dinner from the deli followed by marshmallows roasted over a fire in the courtyard. 

So, even though we weren't really camping, it was the perfect ending to a lovely day.  To all you moms out there I wish you a belated Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Dandelions, bane or blessing?

I don't think there is any place in the world that grows dandelions better than this little corner of the universe.  Growing up in the Southwest we certainly had our share of weeds but never have I seen a place where they are more prolific than they are right here in the Northwest.  And the dandelion is the best of the best when it comes to weeds.  Living near a lake is especially challenging as we don't want to do anything that might poison or pollute the water.  Once Spring arrives these guys get into everything.

You will find them in the flowerbeds,

Under the shrubs, 

and next to the gates.

They can actually look quite pretty scattered throughout the orchard lawn with their bright yellow petals.

Unfortunately, as we all know it isn't long before that pretty little yellow blossom turns into something else much less attractive.

And so, many many hours of my lazy summer days are spent pulling these pesky little plants out of my garden.

But did you know that dandelions are not native to North America?  That's right.  Our ancestors actually brought them over with them.  Some say they may have even arrived on the Mayflower with our Pilgrim forefathers.  

That's because until up to the beginning of the early 20th century when we all started planting lawns instead of growing vegetables they were actually cultivated in gardens.  It turns out they are actually quite useful and were used for many medicinal purposes. In fact, they are still cultivated in other countries around the world.

The leaves and the roots can be dried and used to make dandelion tea which is supposed to help detoxify your liver and help with digestion, among other things.

With a Vitamin B content that is greater than spinach and a
Vitamin C content greater than tomatoes, the leaves can be cooked or added to salads to give them a healthy boost. 

 Or, you can make your own dandelion wine.

I even heard the roots loosen the soil in your lawn, bring up nutrients and act as a natural fertilizer for your grass.  Hmmm.....not sure I'm buying that one. But you can check it out for yourself here.

So what do you think?  Is a dandelion a blessing or a nuisance? All I know is that I have a lot of weeding to do.