Having no desire to feed the beast and fight our way through mobs of pepper-spraying shoppers, we took a two-mile hike back into our own woods to see what, if any, we could identify from our informative hike earlier in the month. I've been picking dandelion and wild lettuce in our own yard for tea ever since the hike but I wanted to find something a little more "exotic" to brew.
This was the find of the trip- crossvine or Bignonia capreolata. Identifiable in the spring by its yellow and red trumpet-shaped flowers. The common name comes from the cross-shaped pattern that can be seen in the cross-section of the thicker stems. This is recommended to fight off fatigue and for sustained energy without the side effects of caffeine. I'm currently sipping a mug of tea that I made with it. I'm going to have to play around with the amount of leaves in the tea and how long and hot I boil them. The batch that I made isn't very strong to taste and I've read several accounts of it being called "sweet".
Here we see Esther taste-testing something she found on a rotting branch. (She did not actually taste it. Don't do this. Ever.) Surprisingly enough, this appears to be an edible fungus known as "witch's butter". So there's a really good chance that it wouldn't have killed her. Of course, I could be wrong.
|There's always room for Jell-O|
Most of the household was recuperating from yesterday's Thanksgiving meal and could not muster interest in the hike, but Ben joined us along with all three of the dogs. Little Dog was very excited to be running with Big Dogs. There was some deer chasing and much barking; a big day for Little Dog.
|Zephyr and Ben|
We stopped for a while at what we call the Cliffs of Ruth- named after the aunt that raised my mother here on the property. The cliffs are a sandstone outcropping at the top of the hollow that are filled with the exoskeletons of spiders and scorpions, the occasional bird nest and empty snail shells.
|The Cliffs of Ruth|
These are some kind of mini-speleothem growing in the nooks of the cliff wall and ceiling. They look like crystallized broccoli florets. These are very small, the big one in the foreground is about a quarter of an inch in height and the crystal formation on the end about an eighth of an inch across.
In several spots along the cliff oakleaf hydrangea can be found growing right on the sandstone, their roots dangling through the cliff.
All the pictures from our trek can be seen here.
Pictures from a New Year's Day 2009 trip to the cliffs (with hot chocolate):