Going on a Mushroom Hunt

As a kid, I was always told to leave wild mushrooms alone because they were poisonous. I never imagined that people would hunt and eat them!

When Hubby and I were still dating, he made plans to go mushroom hunting with a buddy. After he told me that it was mushroom season, I asked, “Do you need a license to hunt mushrooms?”

He did not understand my confusion and laughed at my ignorance.

Not only was I insulted, but I was sincerely concerned for his health and the legality of this hunt. My entire life I believed that mushrooms in the wild could hurt me, so why would I change my beliefs now? After some careful explaining and seeing the results of a successful mushroom hunt, I began to understand that there is a short window of time where edible mushrooms pop up in the wooded areas near us.

Many people go crazy for the morel mushrooms, and just like a good fishing hole, many will keep their mushroom honey holes a secret. It’s kind of crazy to me, but who am I to judge? If I could find a place in nature to cultivate a special chocolate bar that only pops up once a year, I would definitely keep that secret to myself.

Over the last 18 years, I have been served and have prepared the wild morels a number of ways, but they are not something I necessarily crave. Hubby and his family members are under the impression that the mushrooms are to be consumed as if sacred and will go to great lengths to find and brag about their mushroom harvests. With an clear understanding of this passion, I recently went on a mushroom hunt with Hubby and our oldest son.

Continue reading “Going on a Mushroom Hunt”

Security in Nature: As Guided by a 9 Year Old

I will be the first to admit that I often give the excuse that I am too busy to do what my kids want, especially when it involves going into the woods to see a “secret” fort, deer stand, or “special” rock. Not because I don’t like my children or am anti-nature, but I don’t always find joy in the trees or rocks that my darlings do and the matters in the house seem much more pressing. (The stick-tights and cockleburs are also on my list of unhappy things, and they are bad right now.)

This past weekend was no exception. I was not particularly excited about following my son down his “secret” path to see his “deer hunting” tree or his “special” hidden fort. Something told me that it meant more to him to share than it did for me to fold the laundry or finish the dishes. As he lead me into the woods, my 9-year-old chattered like a squirrel in a tree about the way he and his friends had discovered this place and how cool it was. His happy chatter was welcomed, as he has been in a bit of a funk lately unable to find kind words or pleasant things to say to his siblings or I.

When we arrived at the “deer hunting” tree, I saw a dead, dried up evergreen. What my son saw was an opportunity to sit up high, watching wildlife, with ample branches to share the spot with his friends as they “hunted” deer. I asked if the branches felt like they were going to break and he said, “No. They’re good. I know which ones I can stand and sit on.”

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll fall?” I asked.

“Nope. I’ll just catch another branch if I start to go down. There’s plenty in this tree.”

He was so secure in his answer I had to smile. As nimbly as a squirrel, my boy scampered down and said, “Come this way. Over here is my secret fort.”

Continue reading “Security in Nature: As Guided by a 9 Year Old”

Wild Flower Moments

After two months of staying home, the kids and I snuck away to my aunt and uncle‘s lake house. We had two days to take in some fresh scenery and do a whole lot of fishing. Between casting lines, reading books, baking cookies, and watching the boats on the lake, I made sure to take a few hikes and nature breaks.

I’m always amazed at how the simplest elements make themselves powerfully noticeable when I allow myself to be still. I believe my favorite instances of appreciation occur when I discover wild flowers. 

The moments of beauty created as wild flowers reveal themselves to us are truly miracles because they occur so surprisingly and often in very brief windows of time. One day there will be a hillside of blooms, and the next no blossoms can be seen.

Today I encourage you to seek out some wild flower moments. 

Allow yourself some quiet time to stumble across surprise lillies; stare into the eyes of  black-eyed susans; delight in the darting centers of cone flowers; and collect the wealth of the golden rod’s glow. If wild flowers are not your thing, search for the simple pleasures that do peak your interest. Put energy into appreciating tiny treasures or magic made my Mother Nature in other ways. If your intents are positive and full of gratitude, you will reap the rewards of experiencing moments just as bright and much less brief than those found in wild flower moments.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Picking wildflowers is legal in Missouri, so long as you do not pick them with the intent to sell. Be sure to check with your state laws before plucking those pretty posies from roadsides and state parks. Enjoy!

Be Like the Aspen

selective focus photographed of trees

Photo by Logan Fisher on Pexels.com

Be Like the Aspen

Aspens grow in tightly bunched groves on mountainsides and in rocky, hilly areas. They grow closely together because aspens are not a singular tree but rather a system of trees connected by roots to form one organism.

Their root systems provide them with stability and sustenance. Those roots keep them clinging to the steepest hillsides and standing up to the most treacherous terrains and storms.

We are kind of like the aspen.

Not one of us can exist to our fullest potential alone.

We are not able to fend off everything that comes our way if we stand alone. There isn’t one of us that can make it through life successfully without the support of another.

Just like the aspen, we grow best when we grow together. We need to help support those around us. We can nurture and sustain one another by sharing what we have. Helping others grow taller because of our own gifts is the best way to reach our highest heights.

I encourage you to remember we are like the aspen.

Put your energy and positivity into building a strong support system and working together to weather the storms of life.

Stand tall, give support, stay connected.
Be like the aspen.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. I’m not telling you to make like a tree and leave. I’m telling you be like a tree, well, a bunch of trees. Trees that share roots. You get what I’m saying. Be like the aspen.

Stars Can’t Shine Without It – Wise Words Wednesday

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Darkness gets a bum wrap.

Many are afraid of the dark.

All too often we describe the tough times in life as the dark times.

The Dark Ages is a term assigned to the days after the fall of the Roman Empire and the years of struggle within the church for guidance and acceptance because of the uncertainty and haphazard rule of warring leaders. People felt lost, scared, and hopeless.

Even Star Wars warned us to not got to the “dark side.”

If it weren’t for the dark, the stars would not shine.

When life hands us lemons, we say, “Make lemonade.”

So why not do the same with tough times?

If you are going through some dark times, it’s okay to recognize the darkness. It’s okay to say, “This stinks.” It’s really okay to feel sad or mad or frustrated. Once you’ve acknowledged the darkness, you can find the bright spots.

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My kiddos entering the tunnel to create their constellations.

Our local library offered a constellation creation station this summer. Kids were invited to sketch a dotted outline of any constellation they could imagine. My daughter designed a horse constellation and my son created at robot. As they poked their holes in the “sky” with thumb tacks, the flashlight beam prevented them from seeing the darkness and appreciating the brightness of their work.

Once the holes were punched and the flashlights extinguished, the darkness was welcomed.

It took our eyes a moment to adjust, but once we had time to accept the unlit canvas around us the sight was incredible. Continue reading “Stars Can’t Shine Without It – Wise Words Wednesday”

Rain Brings on the Blooms

 

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On a recent trip to Colorado, we experienced some crazy downpours. At times it felt like the rain was coming from every direction. It was cold. It was dreary. It was not what we planned for our trip. The rain put a temporary damper on our fun. On more than one occasion, we trampled back to our lodging in search of dry clothes and hopes of brighter skies. As we went from place to place, we heard from the locals that it had been a wetter year than most.

While these rains may have caused some problems for those not used to the mud and tragic vacationers (such as ourselves), the showers also brought on some benefits.

The blooms of the wildflowers could not be ignored. One guide told us he did not know the names of all the blooms we saw because he had never seen some of them before. The rain had allowed plants to prosper that had not done so in decades. The mountains and rock faces were speckled with yellows, purples, oranges, and greens, where they normally had shown brown, red clay, and gray.

The last few years wild fires destroyed foliage and fields and prevented many plants from producing beyond their basic stems. The scenery was pretty bleak in places, but thanks to this year’s rains, the blooms brought new light to the landscape.

Blooms 3.jpgAfter what has felt like a drought of goodness, our lives are kind of like those mountains and valleys.

We feel drained, dull, and fruitless.

Other times it seems like the rains won’t stop.

The good news is that, once the drought or mud has moved on, the good stuff can take root and you know beautiful things are gonna pop up.

If it feels like you have been in a drought of kindness, beauty, or success. Look for those storms that have blown through your life. There will be something new and refreshing that comes from those downpours. Let the waters of change wash away the dreariness and welcome a stronger, brighter you.

Be like those wild flowers in the mountains. Let your colors show and your vibrant personality be the thing that others notice in the new you. Remember rain brings on the blooms. Welcome the storms of life and know that no drought is forever.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Next time I will take a Colorado nature book, rain boots, and additional pairs of socks (my normal stash of 2 extra pair was not enough).

Frozen Dinners on the Farm

 

 

 

Adventures in farming don’t stop when winter arrives. If anything, they become more frequent. This past summer hubby decided we would give silage feeding a try and chopped a pit full of the ever-fermenting feed for our cattle. We wrapped the pit tight and waited for the weather to require us to serve up the corn stalks and leaves. Fortunately, the coldest cold took its time getting here and we did not have to start the daily task of carting the food to our cows until January.

I had not experienced the serving of silage and, based on all the research I saw hubby do, I was intrigued by this form of feeding. It was a process that I found both interesting and time-consuming (traits that often go with farming).

wp-1549159230085.jpgThank goodness for 4-wheel drive tractors and silage buggies to help us get the feed to our hungry herd. Silage has to be fed daily when the grass has stopped growing or is under a thick blanket of snow.

After 10+ inches fell, serving silage was a must. The following week brought sub-zero temps and those cows needed whatever food we could get to them. Continue reading “Frozen Dinners on the Farm”

The Hands of Time are Not Ours

 

As I enjoyed my recent hair appointment, my hairdresser Abby inspired me (per the usual) with what she had to say about how silly people are sometimes.

Abby is expecting her first child in March.
(She is going to be an amazing mom!)

Anyway…

Abby shared with me that many have expressed distress at her nonchalant manner for addressing when the baby comes and how she is going to handle the demands of her hair clients. She has already made plans to stop taking appointments around her due date and has set an ideal timeline for her return. She has not allowed herself to stress too much if the baby comes early or is a little late. Abby knows that babies come when they are ready and her hope is to be as ready as she can be without letting the trims, perms, and highlights of her customers put a damper on the delivery.

“God has a way of reminding us it’s not in our hands. It’s all in His timing,” Abby told me, “He has sent me that reminder many times.”

Her words rang true to me and reverberated with the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

These words are embossed on the cover of the journal I used to document my experiences as hubby and I embarked on our journey through fertility treatments, loss, and my unexpected and completely natural pregnancies that resulted in the three crazy kiddos we have today. God really does have beautiful timing. Continue reading “The Hands of Time are Not Ours”

Thank Goodness for First World Problems

 

In this weekend’s snowstorm, the power flickered, the internet and satellite tv went down, and the roads were too treacherous to go anywhere (most places were closed anyway). Based on many Facebook posts, Tweets, and my children’s behavior, one would believe the snowpolocypse had indeed arrived. Losing these luxuries was simple proof that we are blessed to have such silly first world problems.

I said a small prayer of thanks that these were our biggest problems. I added a prayer of petition for the safety of the farmers, road crews, and first responders still out working in the hazardous conditions. We are so lucky to have these people serving our communities.

I also reflected on a recent phone conversation with my friend Kary.

She has taken over the Random Acts of Kindness Club at Fatima High School and we were discussing some opportunities for community service projects. Kary was excited about the contacts I shared with her and the ideas we came up with, but she shared that there has been a bit of a problem with getting a great turnout from her group members. “They are all just so busy with sports, jobs, friends, and other things,” she said, “All these kids are good kids; they just have too much going on.” I agreed that it was a problem, but at least we could be grateful that it was our biggest problem for the club.

“It’s just another first world problem,” I told her and she laughed. Continue reading “Thank Goodness for First World Problems”

Don’t Be Like My Cactus

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January 2nd – Photo of Christmas cactus

Don’t be like my cactus.

For Christmas, my sweet friend Sarah gifted me with a beautiful Christmas cactus. The bright green was a very merry addition to my holidays.

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December 24th – Photo of Christmas cactus

When I received the cactus on December 13th, it had some small fuchsia blooms. On December 22nd I noticed the blooms had gotten larger. The morning of December 24th I was pleasantly surprised to find them in full bloom. With their vibrant arrival, I found a brighter sense of the holiday spirit and shared that with my family and friends. Each time I caught a glimpse of that Christmas cactus, my heart blossomed with a new floret of holiday fervor. Continue reading “Don’t Be Like My Cactus”