All posts by Rebecca

Is there an activity that you do or a place where you go that you suddenly feel wonderful? Like the pressures of the world have dropped from your shoulders? Well that is what hiking or kayaking in nature does for me. That is what wood working or any craft that puts me closer to nature does for me. I love it, and I hope you will find some sense of peace and contentment on this site.

Porters Creek Annual Spring Wild Flower Hike – 2014

Every year a group of friends and I go on an annual hike along Porters Creek to see the wild flowers.  This year we had much cooler temperatures and snow, so many of the flowers we normally see weren’t open yet, but we saw quite a bit of trout lily!  We always walk to  Fern Branch Falls where we eat lunch and then we hike back.  The hike is about 4 miles round trip, and it is a fairly easy hike especially if you are just strolling along the creek admiring all of the flowers, listening to the flowing water and the singing birds!  There is quite a bit of history to see along the trail as well:  Ownby Cemetery,  the Elbert Cantrell Homestead,  John Messer Farm Site, Cantilever Barn, Smoky Mountain Hiking Club Cabin.  This trail is great any time of the year as there is always something fun and interesting to see!

There are a lot of nurse logs along the trail.  A nurse log is a fallen tree which, as it decays, provides ecological facilitation to seedlings.   Some of the advantages a nurse log offers to a seedling  are:  water, moss thickness, leaf litter, mycorrhizae, disease protection, nutrients, and sunlight.  When the nurse log finally decays, the trees that it has nursed appear to stand on legs. The legs are the roots of the trees that have grown over the logs as the tree grows into maturity! Pretty cool, yeah?

In the slide show below,  you’ll see the flowers that we saw on the hike, what a tree looks like if it was nursed, nursing trees, and historical sites.

Did you know?

Squirrel Corn:  Squirrel corn had great significance as a Love Charm to the Mennominee Indians and a young man would throw the flowers to his intended love or chew the roots which gave a perfumed smell in the face of the woman causing her to follow him from that time forward. The Onondaga called this plant the “Ghost corn” believing it was “food for the spirits.” Like trilliums, the seed of this group is dispersed by ants because the seeds contain a fatty substance called elaisome, which is highly relished by ants.  At the nest the elaisomes are eaten and the seeds are left to germinate.  The plants are primarily pollinated by bumblebees.  historically the plant was used as a tonic and for use in treating syphilis

Trout Lily:       Trout lilies are often called fawn lilies (due to the mottled or spotted leaves and the appearance that resembles a fawn’s ears) or dog-tooth violets because the corms supposedly resemble a dogs tooth and flowers look kind of like violets.  The name trout lily is given because of the mottled leaves and the appearance of the flowers during trout fishing season.  It is sometimes called adder’s tongue because of the tongue-like flower shape of the flowering shoot as it emerges in the spring and resembles the open mouth of a snake. These plants are not pH sensitive and both species are found across the state of Tennessee and are common.  There are no serious disease or pest problems associated with this species.  Supposedly the corm is edible and tastes like a cucumber.

Blood rootThis plant gets its name from the red sap in its roots that was used as paint by Native Americans and as a dye by early settlers.  Today it has a wide range of medicinal properties, too many to list here but a publication by the southern US Forest Research Station in Asheville, NC has an excellent publication that covers all aspects of this plant.  It can be located at:

Wild Ginger: Native Americans and then Euro-American settlers also used the plant as a poultice to treat wounds. Medical researchers have identified two antibiotic compounds in the plant so its historical use as an antibiotic has been validated.  The color and the location of the flower have an unusual and interesting story. The flower evolved to attract small pollinating flies that emerge from the ground early in the spring looking for a thawing carcass of an animal that did not survive the winter. By lying next to the ground flower is readily found by the emerging flies. The color of the flower is similar to that of decomposing flesh. Whether these flies pollinate the flower or not is in some dispute. Never the less they do enter the flower to escape the cold winds of early spring and to feast upon the flowers pollen. Some of the pollen attaches to their bodies and is taken with them when they visit the next flower.


Spring is here!

When I got up this morning, there was a beautiful male finch on the bird feeder, eating seeds and looking around.  The bunnies, of course, are out nibbling clover and grasses in my yard and the neighbor’s yard.  All of this taking place with the symphony of different bird songs.    In my e-mail today, I received a newsletter from Dancing Sun Cabins and one of the things it contained was a poem that I would like to include here for you.




A Rabbit Noticed My Condition
A poem by St. John of the Cross

I was sad one day and went for a walk;
I sat in a field.
A rabbit noticed my condition and came near.

It often does not take more than that to help at times— to just be close to creatures who
are so full of knowing, so full of love that they
don’t chat, they just gaze with their marvelous understanding.

Hiking Rainbow Falls Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains

A friend and I hiked to Rainbow Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the end of February this year – a 5.4 mile round trip hike.   It was my first time to see these beautiful falls.  The day was a perfect day for hiking the trail,  blue, cloudless skies and a temperature of high 50’s which felt pretty warm compared to the 20 – 30 F weather we’d just been experiencing.  All of the snow had melted, but there was still some ice on the trail making a couple of places a little tricky to navigate.  In the slide show I’ve attached you’ll see several ice formations seen along the river as well as the falls.  We took a small lunch with us, and sat on large rocks next to the Willis Baxter Cabin.  This cabin is on the way to the falls on the Maddron Bald Trail, and is a one room cabin with a fireplace and no windows.  In today’s age, you can’t help but have a tremendous amount of respect for those who lived during these times.  To me it is a wonder that there can be so many different ice shapes that naturally form on the LeConte Creek.  Rhododendron buds are getting bigger and preparing to bloom sometime in June. The path, itself, is really rocky and there are also a lot of tree/bush roots on the trail making it a little challenging as you go up approximately 1500 feet in elevation. The falls are 80 feet high and are the highest single-drop waterfall in the smokies!! During extended winter cold spells, an impressive ice formation builds around the falls.  You’ll see this in the slide show!


Our Musings of and in Nature

I spent the bulk of today learning how to make a very small slide show/movie and then uploading  it to this site.  I have so much to do getting this site up and going; yet, I wanted to share with you some photos I took January 4th.  I hadn’t been out for a while, and I really wanted to go up to the Smokies, so my friend and I went!  The slide show,  Winter in the Smokies, shows some of the sites we saw while driving up/down Little River Road  and Newfound Gap Road in the Smoky Mountains.   The Sinks and Meigs Falls can be seen  along Little River Road.  Newfound Gap Road is a route you can take to go see Cataract Falls which is actually accessed from the Sugarlands Visitor Center.   The pines smelled amazing, and the air was truly crisp and clean, albeit, a bit nippy.  It was a great day in that the sky was absolutely blue with not a cloud in sight.

One thing that we found amazing was how many icicles there were which was due to the heavy rains we had over the last few days.  Of course the rain helped make the waterfalls that much more beautiful.    Another cool site (no pun intended) were the places where ice was forming at the edges of rocks in the streams making very interesting patterns and shapes with some looking like frozen mini waterfalls.   Yes, winter brings an amazing beauty to our world, you just need to look for it.

Let me know what you would like to see or know about the Smokies.