Where Chickens Walk


In the shade, the frost is growing every day. It’s covering everything in a coat of white fur. Now I can see where the chickens walk. It would be a good time to study the footprints they leave behind. Knowing a chicken by the footprints it leaves could come in handy … some day. I’ll ponder a bit to see if that is knowledge worth acquiring. “Yes, that is Skunky’s footprint and it’s not more than 15 minutes old.” I could probably get to the point that I could tell by the depth of the impression if it is the footprint of a hen who left an egg on a nest within the last thirty minutes. That would either impress someone or make them think I’ve lost my mind. Sometimes you can know too much, and if you do, keep your mouth shut.


The pond is starting to freeze over. The fish are safe from the blue herons and king fishers now. The shortest day of the year is just three weeks away. A wreath of fir, cedar, sequoia, pine, and holly will see us through this darkest time of the year.


The Softness of Frost


Day by day, frost softens the things it touches. Frost makes the leaves look like soft, supple leather. Dust feathered leaves look soft and cuddly. These cold, clear mornings we are having make for invigorating morning walks.


散紅葉 • Chiri-momiji


Japan is famous for its fall colors. Tourists from all over the world travel there to walk through temple grounds, resplendent in their colorful foliage. The beauty lingers even after the leaves fall to the ground. When there are more leaves on the ground than in the trees, it is time to visit the temples to see the 散紅葉 – chiri-momiji, which loosely translates to “scattered fall leaves”.


The 散紅葉 – chiri-momiji here are as colorful as when the leaves were waving in the wind on the branches. BB isn’t that interested in the fallen leaves. He’s more interested in the interesting smells he finds coming out of a mole hill.


You know, if zoos wanted to attract more visitors, they would make special paths just for dogs. They’d pepper the paths with dung from lions, tigers, zebras, hippos, gorillas, kudu, impala, Komodo dragons, and all the other animals they keep. Dogs would go nuts sniffing out the droppings of creatures wilder than anything in their dog dreams. These could be off leash areas. You could bring your dog to the zoo, affix a tag with a number to them, and set them free. While your dog goes on an adventure of a life time, sniffing and frolicking through all manner of dung, you’d enjoy your own visit to the zoo, looking at the animals. At the end of your visit, you could pick up your dog, who most likely would be wondering why you’re back so early. It still needs hours to explore the dung piles.


Nina is not concerned with the fall leaves. She’s got eggs to hatch. She started sitting on her eggs last week. There are only three eggs, and it is very late in the season to be hatching chicks. She won’t be the first hen here to hatch eggs in December. When a hen has the urge, she has the urge.

Which is More Beautiful?


Special is a beautiful hen, but is she more beautiful than colorful Svenda? It doesn’t matter if one is more beautiful than the other. If you stare at their feathers, it almost looks like they aren’t feathers, but brush patterns. You can easily imagine a painting style called “chicken feathering” where brush patterns resemble chicken feathers.


The first snow of the season on the foothills filled today’s bike ride to the post office with beauty. The cold wind flowing down the Fraser Canyon in British Columbia made holding the camera still a challenge. Mt. Baker’s bare, craggy rocks are no more. The whole peak is swathed in deep snow. On the slopes of Mt. Baker, the marmots and pikas are deep in their dens. The marmots are probably hibernating already while the pikas stay warm in their burrows, munching on the grasses and herbs they collected and dried during the summer.


Margaret and her chicks are far from hibernating. This is her second clutch this year. Her chicks are perfectly capable of being on their own, but she still dotes on them, making sure they are out of harms way as they scratch and peck their way through the compost pile I turned today. They will be two months old on Thanksgiving. The other day, two of her chicks were having a sibling fight and I watched her break them up. If one lags behind too far, she’ll go looking for it and tell it to hurry along.


A Family of Toadstools


A group of mushrooms is called a troop, but the tight cluster of purple mushrooms I found the other day poking out of a cushion of moss looked like a family to me. You could imagine that I stumbled upon them while they were taking a break on the moss after walking through the woods all morning.

This is a great time of year to find mushrooms of all kinds. They seem to love the cool, wet weather. When you see them it’s hard to imagine their complicated lives, from spores to threadlike mycelium to mushroom primordia to fruiting mushrooms. Fungi are essential for creating compost, for decomposing plant and organic matter. Without them we wouldn’t be here. It’s comforting that our lives depend on such beautiful organisms.


What Happened Here?


On our way home from a shopping trip to Bellingham, we stopped along Chuckanut Drive to enjoy the evening sun. A boulder at the edge of the cliff was adorned with flowers. Oh, no! What happened here? Did someone fall over? You see something unordinary like this and your mind spins a mile a minute trying to make sense of it. It just takes seconds to picture a heart broken young man plunging to his death … no, a couple on their honeymoon stop to take a selfie, slip, and tragically plunge to their doom … no, a young girl can’t stop texting to her boyfriend while her parents take pictures of the view and she stumbles over the boulder … no, and your mind goes on and on. In a few minutes you’ve written an entire novel in your mind.


Just as I calmed my mind and walked back to the pickup to leave, there it was … a single shoe next to the curb. Not an old shoe someone would have thrown away, but a perfectly good shoe. No doubt it was the shoe of the heartbroken young man who leapt to his death. Why else would someone leave a perfectly good shoe twenty feet from the boulder on the edge of the cliff? Or is that a woman’s shoe? No, the shoe of a … you tell me. Your explanation is as good as mine.


Hoary Daybreak


When I went to bed last night, I knew the morning was going to be magical. I could feel it in the way the cold night air stung my nose. This morning we had our first ice. You can have many a frosty morning before first ice arrives, the morning when the surface of the puddles freeze over. The leaves which yesterday were floating on the small pond by the front entrance, are trapped in a layer of clear, cold ice this morning.

We’ve gone beyond dainty frost to the wilds of hoar frost and ice hair, phantasmagorical creations of a deep freeze. They can look like an army of flesh-cutting glass shards to soft, cuddly blankets you want to wrap around your shivering body.


The freezing nights do wonder for kale. Icy weather turns the starches in kale to sugars, making it much milder than kale picked during the summer. It becomes a mild, crunchy green, great for salads. It’s the middle of November and I’m still harvesting a bin of salad greens for Tweets every week. I wonder sometimes where the kale and other salad greens I gather each week end up. I imagine travelers stopping in at Tweets, devouring my eggs and nibbling on my greens, only to fly off that night or the next day to the far corners of the earth. By the time the kale comes out of their bottoms, it could be on the other side of the world. Bon voyage my hearty greens. Send a postcard if you can.


Just One


Just one melon, that’s all I got from the artemis melon vines I grew in one of the hoop houses. The vines were loaded with ripening melons this summer when one night, something got into the hoop house and destroyed them. It looked like a mini tornado had gone through the hoop house. Vines, leaves, and melons were ripped to shreds. One vine with one tiny, baby melon survived. I secured the hoop house so that nothing could get in, and after keeping it secure through October, I brought it in a week ago to ripen.

This morning it was time to see what we’d missed this summer, and was thrilled that all was not lost. This one juicy, delicious melon was worth all the effort. Next year I’ll make sure no critters get into the hoop house to destroy the artemis melons.

Be Curious

CuriosityEWhen I first brewed a cup of Yogi Tea’s Egyptian Licorice tea, I wondered how it could be so sweet. There was no sugar listed on the ingredients, just licorice root, cinnamon bark, orange peel, ginger root, cardamom seed, black pepper, clove bud, natural and organic flavors, and essential oils.

Curious as to what could be making it so sweet, I purchased some licorice root because I knew what all the other ingredients tasted like. I ground it up and made a tea with it Wow! So that’s why the Egyptian Licorice tea was so sweet. I was even more curious.

I grew up where there was no licorice candy. The first time I had it as a child, my reaction was, “This is icky. People eat this?” It put me off from touching licorice for a long time, but grinding licorice root and tasting it made me explore this interesting root. It is glycyrrhizin in licorice which makes it so sweet. Glycyrrhizin is 50 times sweeter than sugar, and explains why licorice in Chinese is 甘草 which translates to sweet-甘 and grass-草.


I’m having a lot of fun making teas with licorice root. A bit of mint, some allspice, cloves, slivers of garlic, ground with licorice root is today’s tea. Fresh tea every day. Why not? I grind coffee every morning, why not tea?


Licorice has a long history of being used by peoples around the world as a medicinal herb. There are dangers in consuming too much of it, so be curious and read up on it before using it.

From Beautiful Flowers


From beautiful flowers come beautiful beans. From beautiful beans come delicious, heart warming meals. I received this text from someone who purchased some of the white flower beans I grew this summer:

I just wanted to share this pic of our first pot of your white flower beans. We made crockpot baked beans and OMG, these are delish!!! Thanks for growing.

Thank you for buying them, and letting me know you enjoyed them. From beautiful flowers come happiness.


My husband and I were discussing how to describe the taste of the beans recently after eating bowls of them. They are different than other beans. He described them as tasting a bit like little potatoes, and they do.