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Posts Tagged ‘leaves’

yellow foliageSunny yellow foliage is making its appearance on the Nova Scotia landscape.  Birches, poplars and tamaracks all transform into bright gold at this time of year.  Hot summers will often turn the leaves a dry brown before they have a chance to become yellow, but this summer’s plentiful rains and cooler temperatures promise golden hues this fall.

Some areas of the countryside change colour before others.  Some transformations from green to yellow are gradual, while others seems to magically happen overnight.

In the woods, toadstools have popped up in shady spots under trees.  There is quite a variety of them in the maritime woods, but the yellow ones are especially eye-catching and pretty.  I’m not sure if the ones in the photograph below are Yellow Patches or Yellow-orange Fly Agaric.  Both are considered inedible. 

toadstools and goldenrod

Golden rod flowers are still in bloom although many have now turned a dull brown.  They’ve been a sign heralding the end of warm days since I was a child.  Perhaps they steal and absorb the last bits of sunshine, keeping the final rays of warmth in their roots until spring.

yellow ribbon

Like many families with loved ones on tour, a yellow ribbon is displayed in the front yard.  My son Kip arrived in Afghanistan this past week.  The yellow ribbon is a reminder to keep him and other troops in thought and prayer during their period of deployment.  We look forward to his safe return in the spring.

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite tender sky,
The ripe, rich tints of the cornfield,
And the wild geese sailing by;
And all over upland and lowland,
The charm of the golden rod; —
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

~ Willian Herbert Carruth

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autumn leaves

Autumn brings brilliant hues that brighten up the Nova Scotia landscape.  In the salt marsh, maple leaves and red apples stand in bright contrast to the evergreens and grey waters.

red apples

Bright orange rose hips replace summer’s pink blooms on the wild rose bushes. Full of vitamin C, they’ll provide a nourishing treat for birds in the cold winter months ahead. They’re often dried for use in herbal teas.

rose hips

nightshade berriesUnlike the rose hips, the elongated nightshade berries shown at left, are NOT edible. Both the fruit and leaves of this plant are extremely toxic. Consumption of fewer than five of these berries can be lethal to children. It’s best not to eat any wild berries that grow in a similar oblong (as opposed to spherical) shape.  These nightshade plants are  numerous along the edges of the salt marsh trail and can be identified by their purple flowers during the summer months.

Nightshade was used to poison the tips of arrows by early people.  It was also used to poison political rivals in Ancient Rome and employed by MacBeth to poison troops in Scotland.

This single long stemmed red rose was found wedged between two tree trunks along Rosemary’s Way, a small path that leads off to the side before the first bridge on the trail. How it arrived in this setting is a mystery.  Besides heralding the cooler days ahead, it would appear that Autumn’s colours reveal the fiery passions that still lie beneath the surface.

red rose

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irishchainpatchTo commemorate Earth Day 2009, I thought I’d design a couple of quilts using earth colors.  Real earth colors.  I created a palette using photographs I’ve taken in my yard over the past six months, made squares and then arranged the squares into a quilt pattern.  I decided on a Double Irish Chain pattern, as the Irish were among the first Europeans to settle in Cow Bay.

The first quilt employs colors taken from feathers and fur:  Bunny Brown, Blue Jay Blue, Jay Tail Feather  Blue, Ring-neck Green, Pheasant Grey and Squirrel Red.  I don’t think Martha Stewart could have come up with a more beautiful selection. 

apatchFor my second quilt I made use of colors found in photos of trees and leaves:  Inner Birch Bark, Spruce Green, Balsam Green, Ivy Red and Sapling Bark.  The white is an authentic ‘Snow White.’

As a quilter, I’ve often wondered how strange it must seem to non-quilters that we cut fabric into small pieces, only to sew them back together again.  As crazy as it may be, the process of creating a virtual quilt (without a program for doing such) is even nuttier. (This is what happens when you spend too much time with the squirrels).

Happy Earth Day!

Irish Chain Quilt with Trees, Leaves and Snow Palette

Double Irish Chain Quilt with Snowy Trees and Leaves Palette

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rowan12“Some things you must guard with care:
There are Rowans in the dooryard;
Rowans in the yard are sacred,
Rowan branches too are holy
And the leaves upon the branches –
And the berries even holier.
By their means a girl may learn,
A young woman may be guided
To affect her sweetheart’s feelings,
Even to command his heart.”

~ from ‘The Teaching of the Bride’ in ‘The Kalevala,’ Finland’s great epic poem

 Late winter is a good time for dreaming up plans for springtime plantings.  I’ve been wondering what type of tree or bush to plant near my front door to replace the Cedar that gave up the ghost last year.  I’m leaning towards Mountain-ash, a tree very closely related to one known as Rowan in the Old World.  Rowans are supposed to bring good fortune and repel negative energies, qualities that make them ideal plantings near the entrance to one’s home. 

Referred to by the Celts as ‘Fid nan Druad’ or ‘wizard trees,’ Rowan Trees have been regarded by Northern Europeans as magical trees since ancient times.  They are often found growing near ancient settlements, churchyards and henges (stone circles).  A large number of Mountain-ash saplings, just the right size for transplanting, are presently growing towards the edge of my backyard. 

Rowan Leaves by Andy Goldsworthy

Rowan Leaves & Hole - by Andy Goldsworthy

A Scottish superstition warns that it’s bad luck to cut down a Rowan Tree.  Its wood was traditionally employed in the fabrication of walking sticks, coffins, crosses and wizards’ wands.  The trees are associated with prophecy and creativity.  Quickbeam, one of Tolkien’s Ents from the Lord of the Rings saga was a Rowan.

The name of Mountain-ash is misleading, since this tree is not a true Ash but rather a member of the Rose (Rosaceae)  family of plantsMountain-ash leaves are a favorite of White-tailed Deer, Moose, Fishers, Martens, Snowshoe Hares and Grouse.  Squirrels, mice, voles, grouse, jays, robins, thrushes and waxwings all enjoy the berries.  Fermented berries can be intoxicating to small animals.  Years ago, I stopped to pick up a robin that had flown into my windshield while I was driving.  Its mouth was full of Mountain-ash berries.

I’ve yet to figure out exactly why the above lines from the Kalevala say that a young woman can affect her sweetheart’s feelings through the use of Rowan berries.  Certainly any food or wine prepared with care and a loving heart will inspire good feelings, especially today, St. Valentine’s Day.

For anyone who has access to rowanberries and is curious about their possible ‘love-potion effect,’ here is a recipe for rowan jelly that I found in Pamela Michaels’ cookbook All Good Things Around Us. 

allgoodthingsaroundusRowanberries make a light red jelly with a sharp flavour that goes beautifully with venison or game, as well as with lamb and pork.  You can make the jelly with green cooking apples, but crab apples give the best flavour.

1-1/2 kilos / 4 lbs rowan berries  +  1 kilo / 3 lbs crab apples  +  water  +  sugar

Wash the berries and strip them from their stalks, wash the crab apples, cut them in half and nick out any bad bits.  Put both fruits in a large pan, add enough water to barely cover, bring to the boil and cook for about 20 minutes until the fruit is soft and pulpy.  Pour into a jelly bag or double thickness of muslin and drip overnight.  Measure the juice into a pan and add 400 g / 2 cups / 1 lb sugar for each 500 ml /2-1/2 cups / pint of juice, heat slowly, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then boil rapidly for about 7-10 minutes until the liquid jells when dripped on to a cold saucer.  Skim and pour into warm dry jars, cover with waxed circles while hot, seal with cellophane covers when cold.

For more information about Rowan trees, see: 

www.rowantree.info

http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/forest/mythfolk/rowan.html

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