Boreas Paid a Visit…

Boreas- the Greek God of the North Wind

Monday was another hot day with temperatures peaking at 97F. Most of the local residents that I speak with are tired of summer. It has dragged on too long for their liking, and mine.

Oklahoma weather is fickle and such is the case this year. However, the North Wind made a surprise appearance today with a steady blow and temperatures topping out at 77F during the day and dropping to 50F as of this morning. Boreas tempts and teases us time and time again. Promising relief with a glimpse of the season ahead, only to vanish leaving the heat to fill the void.

And true to form…the days of this week will be pleasant, yet by the weekend we will climb back into the mid-90’s. Frustration looms large, yet patience is the order of seasonal change. Roller coaster rides with brief respites intermixed, autumn is coming…it’s just not here yet…but soon will be.


Almost every summer we make a refreshing drink from the Sumac shrub.

Smooth Sumac-Rhus glabra

We have these growing on our property in healthy patches so we use them for their medicinal purposes. I like to experiment with wild edibles and medicinals and according to common sense recommendations I always perform a test by rubbing some on my wrist and waiting several hours to see if there might be an allergic reaction. Then I proceed to the next step. That being said…I am NOT a Doctor or Homeopath so take all of this with a grain of salt and forage at your own risk. I spend countless hours doing research and plant identification as well as looking up any scientific studies relating to the species I am interested in. Research and “dirt-time” are critical components to my hobby.

It gets hot in Oklahoma and I haven’t found a better method to cool off and feel refreshed than drinking Sumac-ade. Of course we could always jump in a lake or stream, but this method has added benefits for us.

In this series of photos I will admit that I collected drupes from the Sumac rather late in the season and these specimens are not in their prime condition. When prime they are a beautiful, uniform red color. I have read on several occasions, that the drupes need to be collected before a rain or a week or two after since the rain tends to leach out the Vitamin C content.

The first step in the process is to properly identify the plant- be 100% positive that it is the correct species.

Collect however many drupes you need for the quantity you’d like to make.
We use a mortar and pestle to gently crush the seeds to help release the contents.
Next we place the lightly crushed seeds into a bowl full of water and let them soak overnight in the refrigerator.
We strain the mixture through some cheese cloth.
Resultant liquid after the first straining.
Second straining. We place a coffee filter over the mouth of a Mason jar and pour the liquid through.
Our end result. Prime drupes processed in a similar manner will have a more reddish tint than ours did.

This creates a tangy and tart liquid that is very refreshing. You can add a sweetener of your choice-organic sugar or locally grown honey if you prefer. We drink it as is.

Current research shows that:

-High Vitamin C content

-Contains Antimicrobial compounds

-Sugar regulating compounds

-Antioxidant compounds

-Boosts good cholesterol while lowering bad cholesterol

-and several other benefits

We like the tangy flavor and find that it cools us down on a hot day. It takes some effort to make but its worth it for us. On several occasions we have made this in the field just using a bandana. Currently we carry a few items with us to make foraging and using edible and medicinal plants easier…

We each carry a tea ball strainer and biodegradable tea bags in our packs.

Thank you for reading and have a GREAT weekend…

The Book That Started It All…

When I was around 12 years old, my family had a trip to Colorado planned. I knew nothing about Colorado except that it was a long drive to get there. At the time I was a voracious reader of history, Native American culture and skills and various other things. I was never really interested in comic books or Mad magazine. Anyway, I was strolling through a Woolworth/Woolco store and noticed a paperback on the wire rounder by the title of Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen. It was $4.95…which I didn’t have. My mind started whirring and processing ways to make five dollars so I could buy the book.

So what does every desperate future entrepreneur do? I worked up the courage to go door-to-door in my neighborhood asking if there was any chores that needed doing for five bucks. On the second knock I found an older lady who agreed to pay me 5 dollars if I would edge her front yard. It’s a deal lady! I’ll do it.

I ran home and rummaged around until I found a pair of scissors. I raced back to her house and meticulously trimmed her front yard edge all the way around the curb. Man, my hands were sore after that! But I had the five bucks and ran all the way to the Woolworth store and bought that paperback.

On the ride to Colorado I leafed through it and stared at the pictures intently. I read it cover to cover and was desperate to start trying all of these skills out. Are we there yet? How much longer until we’re there? Yes…I was that kid!

I had a pretty good childhood. I was raised as a “latch-key kid” and my parents were all about kids being allowed to “free range.” I knew the rules and what time to return to camp…other than that, I was free to roam.

And roam I did! Up mountains, through meadows and along streams. The whole two weeks we were camped, that book was my constant companion. I tried almost everything that book mentioned or depicted. Bows and arrows, rabbit sticks, shelters etc. I tried to make fire with the hand drill and bow drill methods but failed miserably. But it all planted a seed that has remained with me to this day.

I still practice those skills. I wore that little paperback out years ago and currently have the 6th Edition of it on my bookshelf. I figured out pretty quickly that reading a book on something was only part of the equation. The other, more important parts are going out and trying it firsthand. Taking a class from a knowledgeable person really speeds up the learning process. I figured out that success and failure were both sides of the same coin and I could learn a great deal from both.

All of our children have received a copy of this book…among many others. I guess in a way I wanted them to have the same sense of freedom that I had and we free ranged our kids as well. None of them took to the woods like I did…yet each of them has an interest in it…be it fishing, hunting or camping. Maybe there is hope for them in the future. If not, that’s fine too.

I just fondly remember that book and the world it opened up to me. And I still thank my Dad for taking me to Colorado!

Local Lake Outing 12 Sept 2021…

I was talking to my Dad last night via Facetime and he was giving me a little grief about not fishing. He said, “you say its too hot yet you’re running around all over doing other things.” He was right! We were trying to come up with something to do today so opted to hit both of our local lakes. We got up early to beat the heat and headed out.

The first lake was a bust since it is completely overgrown now and fishing from the shore is virtually impossible. We caught zero fish after walking all the way around it. As usual I was on the lookout for plants. Here is just a few of what we ran across.

After getting skunked and picking all of the burs and stick-tights off of us, we opted to try the other lake near us. As we were driving down the gravel road we were witness to a Bobcat crossing the road carrying a rabbit in its mouth. We watched as it loped across the road and coursed up a steep hill. We thought that was pretty cool…especially with how big it was.

We reached the next lake and chatted with a local. He was out on his 4-wheeler with the grandkids and was letting them burn off some energy. We know the feeling all too well.

Managed to catch a Crappie here.

All told we caught 5 largemouth bass, a perch and a crappie. I wanted to get a few pictures for the blog and quit fishing after an hour. Remember me mentioning that this area was covered by the Western Interior Sea during the Cretaceous Period 145 million to 66 million years ago? I took some pictures of the fossils that cover a large portion of this area.

As we were roaming around the area just looking, we ran across this guy!

Eastern hognose snake (Heterodon platirhinos)
It was pretty docile despite the flared hood. They come in a remarkable range of coloration.

After interacting with the snake we decided to move on and see what else we could find. As usual, there were numerous plants in bloom in the area.

Field thistle flower.
Winged elm (Ulmus alata Michx)
Common whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) When reeling in I hooked some weeds and it rode them all the way in.

We had fun with the few hours we were out. We tend to free-range the chickens on the weekends so we decided to head home to let them out for the day. As I sit here typing, I’m surrounded by foraging chickens. There is shade at the moment and a breeze blowing through the tree tops.

They do a good job of keeping the raised beds tilled up…so I don’t have to do it!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!

An Oasis…

The wife and I decided to get out to one of our favorite spots and take a look around. It had been awhile since we visited the area and summertime is as good of a time as any. In the Cross Timbers, water is life, and where you find water you also find life in abundance.

Several years ago, we were looking around in this area and stumbled upon an atlatl point. This area is perfect for a camp so I wasn’t surprised to find the artifact. I will discuss that atlatl point in another blog post at a later date. Back to the story…

Spring fed and drops into a pool down below the ledges.
Tucked away in a quiet place.

We really enjoy visiting this area. We’ve seen snakes, bobcat, coyotes, deer, raccoon, beaver, opossums and mountain lions. To date we’ve managed to explore an area of about a 5 mile radius centered upon this area. Just to the South you will find a labyrinth of sandstone cliffs then it opens up onto a savannah, all the while surrounded by your typical Cross Timbers habitat of Blackjack and Post Oak as well as Hickory and Cedar.

Snakeskin and Lamiaceae.
Vibrant reds. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Brilliant whites and yellows. Prairie Fleabane (Erigeron strigosus) and Sneezeweed (Helenium amarum)
Subtle purples. Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) and Lesser Snakeroot (Ageratina aromatica)

Being surrounded by color in the dog days of summer is a nice change of pace. Usually by this time of year, many plants are going dormant due to the intense heat. Yet water and shade allows some plants to hold out until the end of their natural life-cycle.

Tucked away in the shade and grateful for the breeze.

Both of us are amateur naturalists and are continually learning the plants and trees in our area. We consider ourselves “life-long students” and as such spend a considerable amount of time researching things.

I am forever taking notes and making observations.

I am a nerd at heart, and as such have a vast library on outdoor related topics. Everything from botanical taxonomic keys, anthropology, all the way to spelunking. We don’t own a television for the simple reason that we are too busy doing other things to bother with watching one. We try to spend as much time outdoors as our schedules allow and find that we are the happiest when in the wild.

My choice of gear. I use the pencil and canteen the most!

Addendum: in a previous blog post on the Cross Timbers Ecoregion I mentioned the variances that it contained. Below are 2 photos we took today to illustrate those.

Fringe Zone where the Cross Timbers meet the Prairie.
Looking to the West upon the Prairie.

Thank you for reading and I hope you found this interesting. Take Care…