It was a gorgeous day today. Our first day to hit 70 degrees. Looks like tomorrow might bring rain, plus I have lots of work to do on the May/June issue of The Essential Herbal Magazine before we mail it out on Friday, so I was dying to get into the woods and see what was popping up. Learned a couple of things....
#1 I need some good shoes for climbing the other side of the creek, and #2 there are ticks out there. I rarely go on the other side of the creek. Neither do the guinea fowl. There are deer ticks over there, and I was on the deer trail. Ick.
Aside from that, though. It was beautiful.
In my backyard, the violets are starting to open. They seem a little early. Usually we make violet syrup or jelly towards the end of April, but it is nice to see them!
Walking down the hill, the catkins are out on the hazelnut trees. They are full of them, and there are tassel-y places along the stems where the leaves are about to pop out. Hazel trees are really stunning and unusual. Just gorgeous.
We came upon the star magnolia, which is going to burst into bloom this week. The fuzzy little buds are cracking open and the creamy white blossoms are beginning to unfurl.
All along the pathway through the woods, you will find dainty spicebush with tiny yellow blossoms. The leaves haven't even begun to show. The leaves and wood are so fragrant.
Another thing that is everywhere is jewelweed. There will be acres of the juicy stalks and ours bloom orange. We cut and process quite a bit so that we'll have jewelweed soap throughout the year.
The patches of ramps on either side of the creek are slowly expanding. It is my hope that the water will carry seed along and the ramps will line the far side of the creekbed. That will be long after I'm gone, though.
Skunk cabbage is blooming. They are such a beautiful plant. Their lush leaves are so welcome in the spring, and their blooms are so peculiar that they are fascinating. The other day I read that skunk cabbage is one of the only plants to create warmth, allowing them to thaw the earth that surrounds them (I apologize that I cannot remember where that came from, because it would be great if I could give you the link).
We got to the top of the hill and walked along through the conifers planted in neat rows. I'm not sure how we noticed, but suddenly we saw the drops of resin that has been curing over the winter, ever since the trees were trimmed last year as soon as they were finished candling.The resin was as dry as frankincense tears one might purchase. I am an absolute resin freak, with a pretty large collection of incenses and resins. We've collected them since writing our book on making incense in 1999. I cannot believe that in the 20 some years that this tree farm has been in the family, I've never noticed this.
As I gathered these pinhead sized bits of gold, the rich, almost fruity pine fragrance was intoxicating. It made it very easy to see how a resin could be considered a gift of great enough value for kings to give as a gift to a messiah.
Today I gather scotch pine. I can't wait to see if there is resin on the balsam or concolor or spruce or.... any of the others. It is heavenly!