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Healing…

The mother tree stood in silence somewhere in the middle of a long forgotten hammock glade. The morning dew lit brightly by the dawn. Crystals hanging from her leafy fingers. I said a secret kind of prayer as I approached. Something from my childhood. Not wanting to disturb her slumber lest her limbs began to thrash wildly like before.

Mother

Mother

Withered and rough, I felt her furrowed bark cut into the skin of my thighs as I began to climb. Eyes still wet with disappointment and fear. Heart full of shadows.

Reaching higher and higher looking down occasionally to see if anything had followed me I knew I was almost there. I calmed myself so as not to rush. One slip from her heights could leave bruises best not explained. 

I found my space worn smooth by years of reverence. I took my usual position on my belly, limbs hanging loosely, face pressed against her bark. I would remain until my tears stopped, until my pain dulled, until I smiled. Her arms rocking me gently with the breeze. Her scent filling my nostrils with that loamy warmth.

Eyes dried, heart lighter, healed.

Animal Power

Originally posted on The carbon pilgrim:

One ancient practice nearly wiped out in the United States by “progress” was the widespread use of animal power in many important endeavors, including farming, hauling, logging, herding and various types of transportation. In the late nineteenth century, for example, getting around in New York City meant employing at least one of the nearly 200,000 horses stabled in the city (whose manure production posed a serious and perennial public health hazard). Equally hard to imagine today is the knowledge that until the adoption of tractors in the1920s, nearly all American agriculture was powered by livestock!

As someone who came of age among the asphalt suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona during the 1970s—the nadir years for animal power in the U.S.—these historical facts were hard to comprehend when I first heard them. Although I had spent my youth around horses, they were strictly the recreational variety. I knew nothing about draft animals…

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That’s right….I have been watching the guys play Plants vs. Zombies on the Xbox. “But Jacque, why aren’t you playing,” you might ask….BECAUSE I CAN’T SEEM TO FIGURE OUT THE BUTTONS. I get all excited and end up spending my 5 minutes of combat looking at my cactus feet or the zombot.

But, what it got me thinking was this – WHAT PLANTS WOULD I WANT WITH ME IN THE EVENT OF A ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE? So, here it goes, the yummy wild things you could find in the nearest woods….while not accidently eating something that will zombify you.

Do not eat wild plants unknown!

Do not eat wild plants unknown!

***CAUTION***

This article is for entertainment – please do not consume any wild plants without proper knowledge or experience. This can prove to be dangerous and even fatal. Some plants must be prepared in a particular manner prior to consumption. I want to tell you funny stories – not how to harvest them. See above reference!!!

Once upon a time, Kristen listened to John and ate the tender tips of a smilax vine. Most people call it a oh SH*T vine – it’s light green and has horrible thorns….but you can eat the tender tips of the vines. It appears that not everyone should do this – ended in well – the RUNS.

Smilax

Smilax

Palmetto bushes seem tough and rough – but you can actually pull out the middle new growth shoot and chew on the bottoms…..only trouble – it’s hell getting them out!

Blackberries are yummy if you want stained teeth and seeds for days….if you rubbed them on your teeth you might actually pass for a zombie.

Wild blueberries of any kind are delicious when RIPE….early morning dew and some warm sunshine make for a very nice start to the day. Remember to leave some for the wildlife.

Palmetto

Palmetto

 Florida has an abundance of wild citrus. Even in the most remote areas you might find a tree or two in a stand of oaks – caution – have Josh Raysin cut and taste first….lol! This will save you from having the nastiest taste in your mouth. Not all wild citrus tastes like sunshine. They taste like….well – ask Josh!!

There are so many more….but this should get you through the first night of total horror! It appears that zombies don’t eat plants. So, you should be able to fill the belly.

When the zombies attack, it is my recent experience that you should grab your pea Gatlin gun (classic of course) and be the berry shooting pea shooter and go for it! The Zombies don’t have a chance….!

As always – don’t ever eat or drink anything that you are not absolutely familiar with. If you want to see what might happen – you can search Tracy Layton’s camping video on YouTube. He’s is a very experienced wild eater and his latest venture went VERY wrong….it’s entertainment and teaching from poor example at its best. A dear friend almost got into a serious situation from consuming wild plants.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TVIt5WZAQQ

A MUST SEE!!!!

 

As Jacque mentioned in previous posts, our team has gone through lots of changes (and challenges) over the past year. I’m sorry for my long absence, but it’s been difficult for me to dig out the words I’d like to say. For now, I will simply say that I dearly miss my fellow Chicks with Ticks and think of them often and fondly.

 

photoWhat inspired me to come out of blog hiding is that I had the opportunity to visit some wonderful preservation lands the other day, and I wanted to share! I recently joined the Board of Directors of a central Florida-based land trust, called Green Horizon Land Trust. *Note: this is a volunteer position, I have not changed jobs* For those of you who don’t know what a land trust is, it’s a non-profit organization whose goal is to protect land from being developed by putting it under conservation (either fully by purchase/donation or partially by easement). The Nature Conservancy is an example of a very large, international land trust who many are probably familiar with. The land trust I’m now a part operates at a much smaller, more local scale– but it still makes a big impact!

 

photo3The preservation lands I visited were small parcels that you may never even realize are right there in your own community. They had trails winding through wetland and upland habitat types, exposing one to a wide diversity of plant species. Benches were located along the trails to provide a space to relax and observe wildlife (we saw swallow-tailed kites and gopher tortoises) and stunning vistas (lakes and the famous Bok Tower). Some even had geocaches hidden away, hoping to be discovered.

 

photo2I encourage all of you out there to not only enjoy your state and national parks, but to also enjoy smaller scale preservation lands like county nature parks and land trust holdings that may be practically in your backyard. They might just be the best places to see wild things since they aren’t on most people’s radar!

 

ps -The blackberries are ripe for picking in the Florida wilds right now!! (more on that to come)

 

 

Reuse – Recycle – Restore

IMGP0093That’s right folks, we are talking about going green – only in a very different way! Recently, I became part of a unique-to-me method of recycling. We harvest wetland sod prior to mining operations. That sod is then used in restoration and reclamation sites replacing disturbed wetlands. What I find most exciting about all this – IT WORKS!!!

We recently laid some obligate (plants that ONLY grow in a wetland) filled sod in a reclamation site and it’s beautiful, green, wet, and filled with life! It’s as if the wetland was just lifted up with all it’s biota, microbes, plants, bugs, worms, and soil and placed back in the landscape. What’s even more exciting is that it is being colonized by higher life forms just weeks later. Wading birds, small mammals, reptiles….I wonder if they recognize their previous home.

I have heard a lot of negative talk about this practice. Some say you risk spreading invasive species and bacteria….I say PHOOEY….you run a much higher risk when you attempt restoration from scratch – opening disturbed soils to disease, nuisance species, and just plain erosion. What we have found is that if cleanly cut and rolled, NO opportunistic nuisance species seem to thrive! This is just the opposite with open disturbed soils.

I just wanted to share how exciting it is to be a part of saving something in the landscape! It’s nice to stand in the middle of something and know that years from now, someone will stand there and say “I hope they don’t mine this wetland”…it’s nice to smell mucky soil just after the backhoes and dozers leave.

So, next time you are taking that amazing photograph of a wood stork or some lilies, wonder if it came from some faraway place in the world!marsh

She did WHAT?

Plunder Branch Hwy 62

It’s Perfect! Go Anywhere!

That’s right, settle down, I left. Yeah yeah – I left the amazing team that has been my family for almost 10 years. I had been….well – it’s complicated. Let’s just leave it at – I was ready for something new! The bad news is that we are all scattered a bit. Good news is – well – we still all work together.

“How the heck do you work together if you work at different companies, ” you might ask -well – that’s a very interesting story…so here it goes.jac+kristen+logo

We build streams. You know that – we study, create, monitor, design, and build streams (among a million other things). We work with some fairly awesome contractors. Last year, we built a stream in an undisclosed area with a small firm from a nearby city. They were amazing. The stream was almost 10000′ long and turned out beautifully.

Sadly, we lost more than Jess last year. We lost a great colleague who worked on our stream with the contractor. So, long story short, I now work for the owner as his stream guru. I will literally be building the streams my old team designs!

Yep – we are all lucky people. Not only that, I also get to do some pretty awesome “save the world” stuff too. Oh – add onto that I work for a great guy and have an amazing crew! I IMGP8439will tell more about that later….so don’t worry – the Chicks with Ticks (and John and Josh) will still have wild adventures and stories to tell. You will just have to keep up with us!

Get out there – and GO ANYWHERE!!!

That’s right, I know you are all wondering where the heck we have been. Well, there isn’t really one answer – there are many – in fact, there are so many that I am just gonna make a pass at the major 2-3 reasons….so, for all those interested, here it goes…

Losing Jess left us all lost...

Losing Jess left us all lost…

  • Jess one of the founding Chicks with Ticks being diagnosed with cancer and dying after only some months leaving us all a little shaken, lost, and unfocused
  • The slow separation of the field team – Kristen becoming a project manager, and Josh and I the field team.
  • Lastly – Me leaving our company to join a smaller company who actually builds the streams we design.

There are other, smaller reasons, add a little winter laziness, a bunch of kids, some amount of relationship changes for the better and a whole lot of life and you get – well, a lull!

I apologize from my heart. This blog has kept be sane for almost 3 years. Your fellowship and support has kept the lights on in the darkness. It has continued to be my distinct pleasure to share with you all the joys, trials and tribulations of what we do…BUT….now, I want to share with you….

Jacque leaves after almost 10 years!

Jacque leaves after almost 10 years!

A NEW BEGINNING…one which takes us all in different directions all paths crossing at different angles, all experiences new and exciting. So, if you have the strength and courage to continue to stand by us as we push on in the journey – well, grab on folks….it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

Next installment will be the introduction of new characters and roles!!

 

 

Repost – Ancient Landscapes

Once connected by an ancient land bridge to the deserts of the southwest, the Lake Wales Ridges State Forest boasts some similar species that were later trapped in this area when the ice receded. The wave action and shallow waters created a most unusual landform which is still visible today from the air.

Hiking out of the scrub and into the cypress dome was quite surprising.

What you will find on the ground is equally interesting. In the midst of shallow grassy marshes, there are two cypress domes. I know – that’s crazy right – cypress domes don’t belong on the ridge. Well, they are there. And they are gorgeous. Of course they differ from the swampy cypress domes in that they rely on water travelling underground through seepage rather than flowing over the surface.

Just standing in the middle of the dome after hiking through scrub habitat dominated by white sand and scrub oaks – sharp things and arid conditions – I looked around in total wonder at the soft ferns and mucky loam I was standing on. This seemed to me to be a very unique kind of forest. I felt lucky to be taking photos while my field partner Kevin rejoiced in the beauty as well.

It’s not hard to admit that we feel fortunate to be able to see these places. Truth is, everyone can as they are part of the Lake Wales Walk In Water WMP and are totally publicly accessible. You can even bring your horses and camp! IMGP0082  http://www.floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_wales_ridge.html

As always, these areas are home to some very special plants and animals. Even the soil can’t be disturbed. Please enjoy with your eyes and take no prisoners!

IMGP0092
The transition from upland scrub to cypress dome!

 

Chicks with Ticks Brand Is Going LIVE

That’s right folks, the Chicks with Ticks brand finally goes live for 2014. We will make decals available, shirts, hats and other cool girl gear! In the meantime, to stay on top of the latest brand news, check us out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/chickswithticks

Let us know what you would like to see!!

Image

We are so excited to share!

Southern Grace – the Suwannee Trip!

We found time to adventure at Owens Springs - you can't miss it!

We found time to adventure at Owens Springs – you can’t miss it!

And so began another Suwannee River trip. That’s right, we headed back up to north Florida to work and study the river and how it interacts with its floodplain. I know – you are thinking, “Jacque, you guys just keep making excuses to go play on the river.” I assure you that is never the case….well, almost never!

Just so happens that this time, we rented a cabin on the river. Not just any cabin, Southern Grace! This is the very same cabin Clyde Butcher stays in when he’s working up there. Yes, there are photos of the owners and the Butchers. His photos are on the frig.

If you get a chance to plan a nice getaway, I recommend calling Kerrey Hoolihan. She is the manager of the property and will treat you like royalty. Of course, like any cabin stay your instructions will be on old typing paper, keys are in weird places, you have to turn on the water, but this place has so much charm, you won’t notice tattered wallpaper.

We proceeded to camp the weekend on another property the owner has – let’s just say AMAZING. For once, we got to taste river life and let me tell you – it is truly good! So, here are some photos from the trip – go ahead – get jealous, get information and get out there…AND GO ANYWHERE – especially the Suwannee!

The swing view of the river

The swing view of the river

IMG_9235

The dock has to serve at all water levels

IMG_9738

The boys celebrating our camping trip!!

IMG_9200

It was a moonlit night when Kristen and I arrived

 

Allen discovered an amazing spring on our hike.

Allen discovered an amazing spring on our hike.

IMG_9777

Can’t go to the river without a canoe trip! After all – they brought it all the way up here!
IMG_9829

Allen and I enjoyed every minute of our camping adventure!

IMG_9240

The view from inside Southern Grace.

 

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