"Don't wish me happiness I don't expect to be happy all the time....It's gotten beyond that somehow. Wish me courage and strength and a sense of humor. I will need them all." Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Monday, 26 May 2014

Gift from the forest

I've been making jelly and syrup from the young growth on grand fir needle tips. It's tasty.....citrus-like.....high in vitamin C and free. Other popular trees to gather from are pine and spruce. How the jelly or syrup tastes depends on the strength of the juice and/or how much sugar is in it. I've tried a number of different proportions and I am sharing one of my jelly recipes. It's got it's own particular taste-Yummy and it is low in sugar. It is so good I'm canning pints. To make the juice which is enough for 1 batch gather approx. 550-600 grams dry weight, young grand fir needle tips. Place tips in large kettle, add 6 cups of water and simmer for 30 mins. Allow to cool. Drain through colander and then strain through several layers of cheesecloth. This will give you 4 cups of grand fir juice.
For this receipe you will need: 4 cups grand fir juice: 1 1/2 cups white sugar: 1 package (49 grams) no sugar needed pectin (available at Canadian tire) 1. Sterilize jars and prepare lids. 2. Measure sugar and set aside. 3. Measure grand fir juice into large kettle. 4. Add pectin and 1/2 tsp. butter or margarine(to reduce foaming). 5. Place on high heat; stir constantly and bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. 6. Stir in sugar. 7. Bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute stirring constantly. 8. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam. 9. Pour into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. 10. Wipe jar rims and add lids. 11. Process in boiling water bath canner for 10 mins or in a 250 degree oven for 15 mins or leave hot jars to seal on counter.
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Friday, 23 May 2014

Cradle in the wind

Of all the birds the ones I love the most are hummingbirds. At this time in my life I take even greater delight in them than ever before. Female rufous hummingbirds are a symbol of courage and strength. They are to put it mildly downright gutsy. Alone she will build her nest taking anywhere from 6 to 10 days. Alone she will incubate two eggs for 16-18 days keeping them at a constant temperature of 96 degrees. After they are born they weigh about 0.62 grams- less than a quarter teaspoon of sugar. As they cannot regulate their body temperature, alone she will spend most of her time sitting on the nest keeping them warm. After a week or so her babies will have enough pinfeathers to regulate their own temperature. Alone she will feed her young for about three weeks before they leave on their own. She will have flown as much as 12 thousand miles round trip to do all of this. Pumpkin and I found this hummingbird nest complete with two downy nestlings. Their bodies are deep browns and blend well into the dark nest. The only bit of color is their tiny yellow beaks. The two were fast asleep, while the light wind rocked their bark lined, basket cradle in the long drooping cedar bough. Even their beaks were barely visible.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Pacific sideband

Pumpkin and I found this native snail in the nearby forest while foraging. Apparently this species is the largest land snail in bc. It lives only on the coast and is listed as concerned mostly due I think to habitat loss/fragmentation and lack of information on the species. When I saw it travelling along SLOWLY through the sword ferns along the path I asked myself where is it going?

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Friday, 16 May 2014

Locked in

The baby robins in the nest just off our deck hatched this morning. We both watched the last baby break free from its egg. Yesterday I was sweeping out piles of crispy, brown arbutus leaves in an outdoor shower at a cabin I was cleaning. What I didn't realize was that my two year old daughter who I will now refer to as pumpkin had picked up the empty propane bottle I had put there to prop the door open. Even when the door slammed shut I didn't realize there was a problem until I went to leave and saw the rotted pull cord and then I knew I was locked in. There was no room to crawl underneath but I was able to get up on the wall. From there it was easy to reach the rake that happened to be leaning against the outside wall and I used it to flip the latch open which was located out of toddler reach. Had the rake not been there I would have lowered myself down over the wall as I was not going to wait until Raven let me out. Speaking of ravens I watched one several days ago from a distance raid a robins nest. I'm glad there are lots of robins and it was not a mountain caribou. According to a count just completed there are 18 left in the Selkirk herd. When will Wilderness be more than scenery? It's not just about the caribou. It's about our loss for not needing the animals.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

For Mother's Day

My daughter picked me a small bag filled with english daisies - stemless. The path of motherhood is one of deep meaning and mystery. There is a bible text that says, "provoke not your child(ren) to wrath." I've never given it much thought, much less understood it until now as I raise my daughter. But I think it's referring to the fact that because you are the leader how you treat your child and what you say impacts their heart and this is what you are responsible for. The results of your treatment become evident in their teen and adult years.
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Monday, 5 May 2014

The Robins Nest

This nest is in a rhododendron near a cabin where I was working. We came back to have another look and saw this.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Our new neighbours

This particular nest is located ten feet off our back deck. The nest itself is in a red huckleberry I planted many years ago. I have always been enchanted with this fairytale bush with it's tiny leaves and tall, gnarly stemmed growth. Sword fern, ivy and a cedar tree are growing together enmeshed with it. Nearly every year a pair of robins will nest close by the cabin and it's all a matter of locating them as they always nest in a different spot. As I write this I smell rain coming. It's been a busy day working and then chopping a tree down with a hatchet. I'm sitting here on the firewood chopping block listening to the singing tohee while my daughter plays nearby. Life is beautiful. No matter how sad you are there is always something beautiful if only one takes the time to look outside of ourselves.

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