Tag Archives: A Journey of Seasons

Granddaddy Trees and Old Cisterns – Part I

2007-4 (2) Grandaddy treeby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

This morning, I woke to find the world sparkling in a fresh coat of dew.  I quickly filled my mug with coffee, grabbed a bucket, and headed down the driveway to check on the persimmons. The tall, dry grass was burnished yellow-gold in the morning light and fragile wisps of glowing spider’s silk drifted on a breath of air.  I cut through the meadow, following the long, narrow deer trail that leads past the ancient oak tree whose massive branches nearly swallow the morning sky.  My jeans were quickly drenched to the knee.

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Nature Notes: Sinkholes and Springs in the Ozarks

Boze Mill Springby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz -

Karst is crucial to the biodiversity of the Ozark region. At some point in its travel from heaven to sea, nearly three-quarters of the water in our rivers, streams, springs, aquifers, and wells have been filtered through this fractured limestone.  This massive system of water movement and erosion is what makes karst one of the most bountiful and fragile geologic formations in the world.  And while it’s beau  Some of the water that falls or runs across our hills will become forever locked below the surface in aquifers, but a larger portion of it reemerges somewhere on the surface, usually in the form of a spring or a seep, or a wet weather stream.

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Wild Walk: Goldenrod

goldenrodby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Although the meadow below my house is still lush and green, I can see fall working its way into our lives.  I see it in the falling golden leaves of the black walnut trees and in the burning-red leaves of sassafras and sumac. And even though the meadow is most definitely green, it is also suddenly dotted with the purple and gold blossoms of asters and early goldenrod – plants we sometimes love to hate.

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The “Right to Farm” in the Ozarks

Animals on our small family farm.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

No matter how one chooses to look at it, farming can have an impact on the quality of our water.  Like a network of blood vessels, capillaries, and arteries found in the human body, the Ozarks are riddled with craggy veins that carry surface water deep down into the earth through the highly-fractured slabs of limestone beneath our feet – and sometimes, back out again.  Everything that touches the ground on the surface – including soil, rocks, debris, chemicals, manure, fertilizers and even acid rain – will eventually find its way into our creeks, rivers and springs, and ultimately our aquifers and our water wells.

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Itching for Summer

By Orrling and Tomer S (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commonsby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Summer is a fabulous time to explore and hunt for wild edibles or to hike along a cool river, but people around these parts generally avoid venturing into overgrown and untamed places during the summer months because of the ticks and chiggers. How does one even begin to tell outsiders and visitors to our fair hills about the myriad of insects that inhabit our beloved Oz? I suppose if you’ve got a vicious sense of humor, you could just let them wade into the chest-deep grass and work it out later, because they’re not going to believe you anyway. Continue reading

Wild Blackberries and Wine–Part II

Blackberry Pickin - Image Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Wild blackberries are among the most productive and versatile fruiting plants in the wild.  The most difficult thing about gathering blackberries is deciding what to do with all those dark luscious fruits once you get them home.  Luckily, blackberries lend themselves to all kinds of luscious concoctions, not all of which have to be jams and pies.  In fact,  once the main harvest is neatly tucked into the freezer, the last pick is always reserved for makin’ Wild Blackberry Wine! Continue reading

Wild Blackberries and Wine – Part I

clip_image002by Jill Henderson - Show Me Oz -

It’s been a wonderfully long and cool spring, but the temps have been climbing steadily into the more June-like 90’s.  With the heat has come the ripening of the wild black raspberries followed quickly by wild blackberries and giant boysenberries.  My husband Dean has already been out gathering the earliest of the sweet-tart fruits.  Historically, I have left the berry pickin’ to Dean.  But this year, I have set myself to pick with him every single time and I know it’ll be an adventure.

After coffee we pull on long pants, tucking them firmly into our socks before heading out to the berry patch with our buckets.  Even though it is barely 8 AM, it’s already unbearably hot and sticky and the gnats are out in full force, flying up our noses and into our eyes and ears.  Every now and then a light breeze brushes past, relieving us of the torture.

I quickly find out why the Japanese beetles that everyone else seems plagued with never bother any of the plants in my garden – they’re all in the blackberry patch slurping up the rich, sugary juices of overripe blackberries.  Every now and again we wind up grabbing a Japanese beetle along with our blackberry, an event that never fails to startle me.

Despite all the discomforts of picking blackberries, Dean has always insisted that he enjoys doing it.  And not because of the berries, which of course are the real prize, but because being out in the berry patch is a sort of meditation.  It takes patience and perseverance and  the Zen-like attention of a turtle to pick the best fruits.  And now that I have begun picking with him, I understand what he means.   When the heat and humidity are horrible and the pesky gnats are darting at my eyes, I find a rhythm in the repetitive picking motion and the drone of crickets and suddenly the rest of the world just seems to disappear.

The concentration needed to avoid thorns, eye-poking brambles, poison ivy and large, red wasps also sharpens my sense of my surroundings.  This somehow allows me to see things that I am not actually looking at, like the wasp on a nearby leaf,  the black-eyed Susan’s in the meadow and the yellow breasted chat in the branch above.  Indeed, berry picking is the master of all meditations wherein thoughts sift quietly past the consciousness of now and slip easily into the void.  I lose all sense of time.  Before we know it, we have been picking for two hours and have several gallons of blackberries.

Every other day for the next three or four weeks, we will pick one of several vast blackberry patches up our ridge until the freezer is full.  And though our fingers be stained purple and our bodies riddled with chigger bites, we will venture out for one last pick with which we will brew a little homemade blackberry wine.   Stop in next week to find out how we do it!

Until then, happy pickin’!

Read: Wild Blackberries and Wine – Part II


clip_image003 A Journey of Seasons

Filled to the brim with colorful stories, wild walks, botanical musings, and a just a pinch of “hillbilly” humor.  A personal and inspiring tale of homesteading in the Ozark backwoods.    Look inside!


© 2014 Jill Henderson  Feel free to share with a link back to the original article.


Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz . Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore.  Jill is a contributing author for Acres USA and Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac and her work has appeared in The Permaculture Activist and The Essential Herbal.


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Notes from Turtle Ridge: Spring 2014

Box Turtle Shellby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

June lays claim to the longest day of the year and the most violent thunderstorms, it is the month of bluebird babies, spindly-spotted fawns and box turtle crossings.   Although we have been expecting another hot and dry summer, we suddenly find ourselves wearing warm flannels and digging the blankets out of the closet.  But the rain and a long cool spring is exactly what we – and our garden – were hoping for.

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