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Showing posts from September, 2012

Imagination and a Visit to River Bend

Crunch!   Swoosh! Crunch!   Swoosh! Walking silently was not an option.  Dried leaves covered the trails of River Bend Nature Center , and our energy was running high.  We had finally made it back to the park. Much of the green was replaced with orange and yellow, while bits of red poked through, vying for attention. Breezes alternately whistled or rushed through the tree limbs, making my daughter and I smile in wonder, imagining fairies, trolls, and even dragons hiding within the treeline.  And who could blame us?  The falling of the leaves revealed so many hiding places, if you have the imagination to see them. Could a tiny civilization make their home within this hollowed out, fallen tree trunk?  We can't see through to the end, after all... And what lies beneath these still and murky depths?  As we look down, we can't help but wonder if we're standing at the center of a troll bridge... It was so much fun! Normally I talk about the fa

Black Walnut Trees: A Piece of Local History

Every now and then, the missing piece to a puzzle just kind of falls into your hands.  This is pretty exciting, in and of itself, but it becomes even more exciting when you didn't even realize it was lost! That's what happened to me on Thursday.  While waiting in line at Walgreen's,  I happened to look over at the newspaper rack.  There it was, staring right at me: My next blog post. It was a story in the Daily News that dealt with local history - something I always loved to read in El Paso, so naturally, I was eager to read this.  This one, though, had a bonus that no other historical piece had ever given me: It had the answer to how something that has become a central focus for me in the present even became an issue in the first place. Where the heck did all of these black walnuts come from?! Ok... duh.  They came from trees.  But the trees are everywhere!  You literally can't go anywhere in this city without finding them.  My own yard is filled with

The Autumn Purging: A Seasonal Ailment

Many people fall victim to that horrible ailment known as spring cleaning .   They race from area to area, brandishing spray bottles while carrying washcloth shields.  They kick up dust, only making this illness progress to a far greater level as they sneeze and cough, their lungs in distress under so much pressure. Just before their recovery from this horrid condition, their skin cracks or itches and they fall into exhaustion.  Even more strange, they do so with a satisfied smile on their lips, as though brain cells have been depleted in the process. I'm happy to say that I've never been one to succumb to this.  Thus far in life, I've avoided it in its entirety. Unfortunately, I appear to have fallen victim, as of late, to what appears to be a mutation of this ailment: The Autumn Purging This is a strange condition that appears to be a mutation of what's commonly known as spring cleaning.  From what I've been able to piece together, it doesn't pass

Black Walnuts: Dangerous for Your Dog

"No!!!" I yell at the top of my lungs.  Yanking the leash hard, I attempt to pull my 90 pound dog away, then stumble in the process.  I lose my footing when I step on a black walnut.  My foot rolls, and I start spiralling toward the ground... On the path leading up the hill and into the fenced-in area of the yard.   I throw my arms out and catch myself on some rocks off to the side, but the pain that shoots through my ring and pinky fingers causes me to jerk back, and I continue my downward descent to the ground. I know that if I continue in this manner, I'm going to end up rolling down the path, which would probably be fine (I fall enough that I'm great at rolling), except that the path is narrow, and somewhat walled on either side at this point. I do some not-so-graceful feats of gymnastics, swing my head to the right just in time to avoid the retaining wall, and land on my feet. Well, ok... I land on one foot.  I land on the  instep of

Decorate With Gourds!!!

Gourds!!!!!! I'm going to decorate with tons and tons of gourds!  I'm going to have piles of them outside my door.  I'll cut off their tops and use them as candle holders.  I'll paint them, I'll poke beads into their shells, And I'll use big gourds as a place to pile small gourds ! This house will be overflowing with them! There's just one problem with this plan... At the moment I have one mini pumpkin that I got at the farmers market, and a gourd that my daughter chose while we were at the grocery store. Totally not enough. Looks like I'll need to remember to plant gourds for next year, right? In the meantime, though, I'll be looking around for more, while deciding what to do to turn them into the perfect decor.   We've already talked about a simple way to create fall decor using a mason jar, so now we need to learn how to decorate using gourds. Naturally, my first worry was preservation.

Impending Freeze? Cover Your Plants With Blankets!

I kept glancing to the side, keeping an eye on that thing I had created.  It was nothing but cloth and sticks, but to an overactive imagination, it may as well have jumped out of a horror movie, and into my backyard. A gigantic creature from a well crafted novel: One that inspires fear through the viewer's imagination , rather than through showing the terrible creature.  You know it'll attack at some point. You even know you'll eventually see it... you just don't know when .  Remember The Alien?  Same concept. What am I babbling about? As mentioned yesterday, a freeze was coming, and I had to protect the remaining crops in my edible garden. I discussed it with various vendors at the farmers market , and they all said the same thing. Cover everything with blankets. One woman explained that by using blankets, the freeze hits everything around the covered area, and even the blanket itself, but passes over the plant that's being protected.  This made se

Piercing Cold Morning at the Farmers Market

I was sniffling non-stop.  My body was shaking so hard that I probably appeared to be dancing. I imagined there was a possibility that my pain ridden fingers would fall off at any moment , but quickly soothed myself with the thought that the temperatures were so low that we wouldn't have to put them on ice to ensure a doctor could reattach them. Yeah.  It was really cold. But I was determined. I missed the farmers market last week, and refused to miss it again this Saturday.  My daughter and I ran through Faribault's Central Park and to the far side that held all of the vendor tables.  Why did we run?  To increase my warmth, of course. You may wonder why I said my warmth, rather than ours . It's simple.  I was raised in the desert Southwest, where many of us tend to share a common trait:  We place our children in layer after layer of clothing to protect them from the elements (many times it's too much clothing), then totally forget to do the same for ourse

Stuffy Nose? Fight it the Fun Way!

I couldn't help but wonder if it was possible to suffocate due to a severely stuffed nose.  Would the nasal passages clear on their own, due to blood flow, if for some reason my mouth was blocked?  Or would I be unable to breathe and die a very embarrassing death? Ok, ok... that's a little overly dramatic, but you get the picture: It was not a good morning. We've all had a day like this in our lifetime.  This tends to happen due to allergies or a cold.  As you've probably figured out based on my cayenne pepper sore throat remedy a couple of days ago, mine was the latter. I told you what I do to fix a sore throat , but it just occurred to me that I neglected to mention the accompanying stuffy nose, and how I relieve that.  It all comes down to yoga. Wait!  Don't run away!!! I promise I'm not going to tell someone that's laid low by a cold to actually do physical work.  Not only would it be crazy, but it'd be pretty cruel.  You're tired

Virginia Creeper: A Red Beauty in the Fall

Is this what Autumn is supposed to look like? It's so... Dazzling! I mentioned a few days ago that this region is beginning to show its fall colors.  Yellows and oranges are popping up all over the place, yet there is still quite a bit of green to go around. Being from the desert, I'm not used to this.  Sure, I've seen the the change in leaf color on trees, but it's not the same, there.  There aren't nearly as many trees in the desert, after all, and nobody is overwhelmed with happiness when a tumbleweed turns brown and bounces off down the street. Fall is very different in Southern Minnesota.  There's so much color, and fall hasn't even truly begun. And this morning I saw my first red leaves!  Or maybe pink...  I'll let you decide. As I mentioned in the past, the leaves of the virginia creeper turn red in the fall.  It really is something beautiful to behold.  The red (or is it pink?) contrasts perfectly with the green, and atta

Cayenne to Relieve a Flaming Sore Throat?

Flames erupted within my throat. Burning pain, and no water could staunch it. I had a sore throat...  The sore throat to end all sore throats. We all have some sort of ailment that makes us feel as though the end is near, whenever it comes calling.  Some people are completely floored by sneezes, some by nausea.  These problems, while not fun in the least, are perfectly manageable to me. Sore throats, on the other hand, are torture.  Syrups don't work, nor do cough drops.  Chloraseptic spray works for a brief period, but pretty much numbs my entire mouth, so that's out, as well. And besides... who wants to throw something with the word septic down their throat?  I mean, seriously... the word is derived from the Greek word meaning  putrefaction .  Eew. What's left? Natural home remedies, of course!  I've tried many, with various levels of success and failure.  There is one, however, that stands out from the rest.  It's cheap, and it's super easy.

A Friend's Birthday and Nature's Glow

You know those days where you wake up and everything is just... right? I know, they aren't very common.  Usually, our first thought when we wake up is something more along the lines of,  "Just 5 more minutes...  ugh..." This morning was a good one for me, though. I have two friends that have been there for me from the very inception of Even Green Boots Leave Trails.  They've offered me encouragement, they've pushed me to go beyond what I thought was possible, and they've kept me on track. And today, one of them is celebrating her birthday. You're probably wondering why in the world I would be talking about a birthday, when I should be talking about gardening, or about green DIY projects. It's simple.  If this one birthday had never taken place, this blog may not have existed. Seriously. This friend pushed me to do what she knows I love.  I'd call her up, crying from across the country about how hard it is to k

Watermelon Survival: Battling With Mother Nature

Well, that's strange... I puzzled over the 'largest' watermelon that grew on my vines.  It was the first to form, and had been growing at a nice, fast pace. Over the past few days, though, growth had stopped. Just stopped. Finally, a went up onto the hill to the spot above the retaining wall that it had grown above.  Everything seemed ok, so I picked up the vine that it was attached to - And it separated from the rest of the plant.  Four inches of vine, still attached to the baby watermelon, hung from my hand. Those darned squirrels!!! Ok, in reality, it may not have been the squirrels.  They're just the easiest target.  It could have been a rabbit, or even the shrew that shares my yard, protecting it from any small rodents that would dare to set up house. Heck, maybe even an insect had done it. Regardless, something chewed through the vine, destroying any chance of the 1 1/2 inch long watermelon's survival.  I was left with a tiny oval shaped or

Jalapenos and Heat: The Problem of Temperatures

Oh, dear. It's pretty obvious that the climate of Southern Minnesota is very different from that of the Mexican American border.  Even a total dummy could figure that out.  But because I'm from a different region, I still get things wrong, and I still feel the shock of that difference. Take my jalapenos, for example. They were doing wonderfully.  The plants were growing within their Topsy Turvy Hot Pepper Planter , and producing a great deal of fruit.  The fruit was smaller than what I'd get in the grocery store, but even more flavorful.  The leaves reached up toward the sun, green and vibrant. But I learned something that needs to go into my mental filing cabinet for next year. This region's  September temperatures drop too low   for jalapenos in hanging containers. Oops. Jalapenos require temperatures that stay above fifty degrees Fahrenheit. I knew that this climate was very different from my desert home, but I figured I had until at least the fi

Black Walnuts: Only a Hammer Will Suffice

I hefted my trusty rock hammer. Most people use a standard hammer, but I have a special bond with this one.  It's been with me since I studied geology in college, and there are so many memories attached to it. Using my rock hammer actually ends up working quite nicely, since the weight of the top is so much greater at the point where it comes into contact with its target than on the 'pick' side.  That helps propel it downward in a rather fluid motion.  Yes, the same can be said about a standard hammer, but the shape of the head on this one increases the aforementioned fluidity. Yep.  I love my rock hammer. Yesterday I talked about the importance of curing the walnuts prior to opening them.  Today, though, it's time to break apart my black walnuts and reap the treasures from within. Woohoo!!! First, I got all of my supplies together. Bag of cured black walnuts, rock hammer, and a bowl You're probably wondering why I've decided to use a rock

Harvest Black Walnuts: Importance of Curing

Thwack!  Pow!   Crash! My trusty rock hammer came down                                                       again                                                               and again. Each shell was as solid as a rock. I was on a mission, however, to remove the treasures within them. The branches that have fallen, the nuts that had come down directly on top of my head while I stood beneath the canopies of leaves, they were all worth it in the end. I've finally found something regarding my black walnut trees to be truly happy about! Two weeks ago, I discovered that eating a black walnut immediately after it falls from the tree is a very yucky, very bad idea - It kinda tasted like soap . I went off, therefore, to do a bit of online research, and found a great youtube video that explained what I did wrong. As it turns out, you have to cure the walnuts for two weeks. I washed them first, in order to remove the husks from the shells and aid in the process.

The First Day of Preschool and a Clothing Mishap

"Come on, Mommy!  Let's go, now!" "It's not time, yet.  We need to wait a few more minutes." "No, it's time!" My daughter was right.  It was time for us to walk to school for her first day of preschool...  Alone.           Without me .                      I was terrified. While I'm a firm believer in homeschooling , which is, in fact, more environmentally friendly than its brick and mortar counterparts in public and private education, I recognized that I had to enroll her in a preschool. It's not required, of course, and it's going to eat through my pocketbook, but I had to admit to myself that it was necessary.  See, my daughter has no concept of how to act within a group.  She also has no friends.   Neither of these things are her fault.   Rather, this is because our family moved across the country, and I have yet to meet anyone that has children her own age.  Moving across the country is a

Best Laid Plans of MINT and Men

                                        The best laid schemes o' mice an' men                                        Gang aft a-gley This is a section of the poem To a Mouse , written by Robert Burns in 1786.  A modern translation of that second line would be something along the lines of, "Can often fall apart in a rather nasty and unwanted, horrible way that leaves you crying pitiably while cursing everything in a five mile radius." Ok, maybe not. It just means,                       "Can often go awry."                                                          But you get the point... One of my well laid plans came back to bite me in the butt.  Remember my maniacal planting of various mint varieties? The plan was to plant enough that I could have fresh mint for my juices every day without having to purchase any at the grocery stores, where it's rather expensive.  This was a good plan, and it worked wonderfully. BUT! I figured 4 plant