When Dad told stories about hunting in Kumbrabow State Forest I assumed the name was Native American. Not so. The story I’m currently writing (due out in late 2020) is set in Randolph County not far from where I grew up in WV. As I’ve researched the area I inevitably found some information about the state forest there. Turns out it was established in 1934–the year of my story. The land was purchased in December of that year and the name was in honor of Governor Brady KUMp, businessman Spates BRAdy, and attorney Hubert BOWers all of whom were key in the area becoming a state forest. Here are a few interesting facts about the forest: It covers nearly 9,500 acres. It’s the highest forest in WV at more than 3,000 feet above sea level. Logging and wildfires ravaged the forest in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but thanks to a conducive climate there’s been rapid regrowth. The Civilian Conservation Corps built many of the parks facilities including rustic cabins and picnic shelters. The forest today is rich in black cherry stands. My hero, Creed, lives in a cabin on Rich Mountain in Kumbrabow State Forest. Of course, he started living there before it’s naming. One more intriguing detail I’ll get to work into my next story! I just may need to book a writing weekend in a rustic cabin . . .
April is National Poetry Month. You probably knew that 😉 I think MOST of my poems fall into the Appalachian category in some form or fashion. Here’s one inspired by a walk in the woods with a dog and some turkeys . . . Sure do miss my Sammy . . . HOLDING BACK He’s an old dog. So, when he spies the turkeys he tries to run like a nightmare of running with leaden feet and his goal fast receding. I hold him, make him sit and watch the turkeys fade into the forest with a rustle of leaves and soft calls of indignation. I rub his head, massage aching hips, scratch his panting, heaving side. But his bright eyes are on the trees and he would gladly give chase if only I would let him. I call him to my side and head home. He limps beside me because it’s what I ask. But he does not choose, would never choose, this holding back.
It’s ramp season once again! The patch on my neighbor’s property is flourishing. I dug a few ramps Sunday and added a few to a tomato and avocado relish last night in place of green onions. That’s my preferred way to use them–as a seasoning or embellishment. But there are plenty of other ways to use them to add some zing to your spring menu. Goodness knows all the trendy restaurants are doing it! Which put me in mind of that scene in the movie Forest Gump where Bubba is listing all the ways you can eat shrimp. So I thought I’d compile a ramp recipe list for your Appalachian edification! Ramp pesto Ramp carbonara Ramp omelet (one of my favorites–see picture) Ramp focaccia Pickled ramps Ramp-aroni rolls (see Fish Hawk Acres in Buckhannon for these!) Ramp dip Creamed ramps Ramp kimchi (hmmmm) Fried eggs and ramps Buttermilk-fried ramps (yes, please!) Ramp chimichurri Potato ramp soup Ramp jam Ramp pizza Bacon and ramp vinaigrette Ramp aioli Fried ramps and potatoes And, of course, boiled ramps with a splash of vinegar There’s more, but I expect you’ve got the idea. Suffice it to say ramps are almighty versatile! (And if you want to see a menu that weaves ramps throughout, check out this one for a ramp dinner to benefit the library in my home town.) What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?
Autumn used to be my favorite season, but as I get older I’m enjoying spring more and more. Maybe it’s the relief from the cold. Maybe it’s more hours of sunlight. Or maybe it’s the wildflowers! As kids we’d keep an eye on the daffodils growing above the house so we could pick them for Aunt Bess or Grandma. Although […]
It’s finally March and while we still have redbud, dogwood, and blackberry winters to go (at a minimum), country folks are thinking about plowing the garden. When I was a kid my father and one of the more mature ladies of the church would have pretty much the same “discussion” every spring. She believed strongly in planting by the signs and Dad was determined to convince her it was not only silly, but un-Christian to do so. As far as I know, neither one ever came around to the other’s way of thinking. I suspect it would have spoiled the fun they had rehashing the subject every spring. There are still plenty of folk who plant by the signs in Appalachia. Here’s a quick primer, in case you want to give it a try this year: Plant ABOVE ground crops when the moon is waxing (getting bigger). Things like peas, lettuce, tomatoes, squash, etc. Plant BELOW ground crops when the moon is waning (getting smaller). Things like potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc. That’s the BASIC rule. Now, let’s look at the signs. Each month, the moon passes through each of the 12 signs of the Zodiac, which can be divided into four elements: Water – Cancer, Pisces, Scorpio Earth – Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn Fire – Leo, Ares, Sagittarius Air – Gemini, Aquarius, Libra Water and Earth are FERTILE elements while Fire and Air are BARREN elements. Generally speaking, you want to plant […]
It’s officially the time of year when seed catalogs become irresistible. I pore over gaudy pictures of corn with luxurious silks, scandalously red tomatoes, strawberries glinting like jewels, and squash that make me wonder why I don’t eat vegetables ALL the time. And I begin to dream of gardening. Of course, the dream is nothing like reality. There’s no thought of the tractor breaking down while disking the garden. I forget the bazillion rocks we “harvested” from the freshly plowed rows on the farm each spring. And weeds? Come on . . . as long as we don’t let them get ahead of us . . . But my husband is the voice of reason. And he reminds me that I’m not even very good at gardening. Last summer I estimate that I got at least $15 worth of cherry tomatoes from the $14 plant I kept in a pot out front. (We won’t talk about the cost of potting soil.) And my herbs are certainly a savings over buying those plastic packs at the grocery store. As long as I remember to use them. Last summer’s potatoes were certainly a savings since I just planted some old, store-bought spuds that had sprouted in the pantry. I at least broke even on that one. And yet . . . When I see the sign at Southern States advertising onion sets. And picture sweet peas flowering on a trellis made from […]
I got to spend a few days last week back home at the farm in West Virginia. While trips are usually steeped in family time, I did have a solitary morning to soak in the peace. I thought you might like a little dose of that as well . . . Just me, the morning mist, and a few deer for company.