SNA Team Visits The Springs

“This is one of the nicest oak savannahs in the kettles!”, that’s what Jared Urban, with the State Natural Areas Program (SNA), said as we toured The Springs and the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA last Thursday.  After 3+ years of steady effort to rehabilitate The Springs, you can imagine how delightful it was to share the results with DNR Conservation Biologists Nate Fayram, Sharon Fandel and Jared Urban.

We marveled at all of the high quality native plants that have emerged in the Buckthorn Alley since we opened it up last winter.  We could have spent hours identifying plants just on this stretch of the trail alone.  I made some notes and, in an effort to solidify my learning experience, I want to share a few of the plants we found and encourage you to look for them the next time you walk the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.

Tall Meadow Rue Thalictrum pubescens (Thalictrum polygamum)


Culver’s Root Veronicastrum virginicum Snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae)


Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina (L.) Roth)


Heuchera L. Alumroot


Lilium michiganense (Michigan Lily)


Only a few of the plants identified were flowering and it takes a keen eye to recognize species solely on leaves and stems.

Prenanthes L. rattlesnakeroot


Greenbrier Smilax Rotundifoilia


Red Baneberry & White Baneberry (Actaea rubra & Actaea pachypoda)


Aralia nudicaulis (commonly Wild Sarsaparilla)


Carex pensylvanica Lam. Pennsylvania sedge


Figwort Scrophularia nodosa


Arrow-Leaved AsterAster sagittifolius


Woodland Sunflower Helianthus divaricatus


Ohio Goldenrod (Oligoneuron ohioense)


Shrubby cinquefoil Dasiphora fruticosa


Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis


New Jersey Tea Ceanothus americanus


Viola pedata L. birdfoot violet

Bird's-foot Violets at Shawnee State Park in Scioto County, Ohio

Artemisia absinthium (absinthium, absinthe wormwood, wormwood, common wormwood, green ginger or grand wormwood)


Yellow Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum)


We’ve barely scratched the surface of “biotic inventory” at The Springs.  It was a pleasure to experience the enthusiasm Nate, Jared and Sharon bring to their jobs as DNR Conservation Biologists, especially when Nate discovered the Yellow Lady’s Slipper.  We were at the Ottawa Lake Fen and happened to run into Don Dane and Mike, who were doing a little maintenance on the trail that leads to the back country sites #334 and #335 and Don’s eyes lit up when Nate showed him the pictures. “Don’t tell anybody where they are!”, he cautioned.

One of the things we were discussing was the need to create a burn unit that includes the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA and Don explained that he had in fact been using a forestry mower this past winter to put in a fire break on the west side of the lake extending north to the dog trial grounds.  The terrain is really rough and bisected with old drainage ditches from the days when they tried to mud farm the area.  I think the SNA team is inspired to create a burn unit in this area.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to cut buckthorn along the east shore of Ottawa Lake all the way up to and around the fen.

Yesterday, I continued cutting the buckthorn just east of the parking lot on Hwy ZZ to connect with an opening in the brush we created last winter.  I think one more day will do it!

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And after 5 tanks of gas in the chainsaw…

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Ben Johnson took the afternoon off from his day job and pulled white clover near the old hotel site.  I joined him when I finished cutting and then we headed up to the sand prairie to pull garlic mustard, which is rapidly going to seed.

It was a beautiful day and Ben and I took a walk around the trails scoping out where we could get material to fill in behind the bio-logs that the fisheries team installed last winter.  We considered hauling the buckthorn that I’ve been cutting by the parking lot but then realized that the aspen we girdled along the river would make the perfect fill.   We are meeting Fisheries Biologist Ben Heussner and a group of volunteers at The Springs this Saturday to work on that project.  I’ll be out there tomorrow cutting down the dead aspen and getting it ready.

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See you at The Springs!


Hognose Snakes

I met my first hognose snake of the year with the tip of my brush cutter.  Darn it!  I watched helplessly as it writhed in pain, snarling angrily at me.  I’m on the lookout for them now!  When you encounter one on the trail, The Springs feel more wild.

Carl Koch captured these wild hogs at The Springs last year.


Sue Hrobar caught this hognose displaying its classic defensive posture: “When threatened, hognose snakes will flatten their necks and raise their heads off the ground, like a cobra, and hiss.” (from Wikipedia)

hognose snake 04:25 hognose snake A 04:25 hognose snake B 04:25 hognose snake CA 04:25

I’m getting more intimately familiar with every square foot at The Springs as I continue attacking garlic mustard with my brush cutter.  Guiding a brush cutter focuses your attention to detail much more so than waving a poison spray wand.  In many cases I found the garlic mustard amidst many diverse flowers and grasses.  Using the brush cutter definitely causes less collateral damage than spraying a non-selective herbicide like glyphoste.  Rich Csavoy suggested this approach and it will take a few years to judge its effectiveness.

Over 5 days I have worked at all of the locations where I sprayed garlic mustard in previous years and I have to note that, in some cases, particularly on the cut-off trail, the poison significantly reduced the amount of garlic mustard.  Last year the area near where the cut-off trail merges with the main trail at the marl pit factory was carpeted with garlic mustard and this year there was barely a plant or two, and the forest floor is alive with sedges and flowers.  I’ll speculate here that this area did not have as much garlic mustard seed in the soil as others areas where the mustard came back strong after spraying.

Sunday I worked on the south end of the loop trail in and around the bowl with the vernal pond.

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It was a peaceful day and I did a little yoga on the marl pit bridge to unwind at the end.  Here is the view from the old barn site.


I returned yesterday to work in the area around the old hotel site, then near signpost #13, and finally, along the cut-off trail.  It was a blessed warm, sunny, bug-free day with fragrant breezes blowing in from the northeast.

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Garlic mustard on the hillside at the old hotel site.


As I was finishing up at the hotel, I heard the sound of heavy machinery working on Hwy 67; they were taking down the black locust trees I girdled back in March. I was headed that way to signpost #13 with my wheel barrow and stopped to check it out.

I don’t know what this machine is called, but I think Hognose is a fitting description.

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The operator of this hydraulic hercules was a virtuoso, and I could have watched him for hours.

I’ve never seen forestry done like this before.  Below, Steve Tabat cuts the base of a tree and his partner pushes it over.  Check out the snout on this hog and the way it chews off logs and spits them out at the end of the video.

I returned to admire their work after cutting garlic mustard all afternoon.

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Again, the person operating this log loader was an adept and it was a pleasure to watch him drive that huge machine through tight spots and skillfully manipulate the log picker.




The corner of Hwy ZZ and Hwy 67.

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I’m glad to see the black locust go and I have a lot of respect for the hard-working foresters, who were paid for their efforts in wood; the coin of the realm.

From there I headed over to the boat landing at Ottawa Lake to check out the brush and tree removal the DNR did there this past winter.

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Above you can see the shadow of the mighty oak below.



These nice improvements compliment the buckthorn clearing we have been doing on the east shore of the lake, which you can see in the views from the fishing pier and boat launch dock.

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My new favorite place to hang out, meditate, and do yoga after working is the observation deck at the handicap accessible cabin.


The Emerald Spring is really looking the part these days.  This past winter was a hard one and I often saw ducks feeding and staying warm in the river.  I wonder if the algae bloom might be fueled by duck poop?


Sunset at the marl pit bridge.


See you at The Springs!

Buckthorn Man Accepts Bitcoin!

I’m pleased to announce that The Buckthorn Man will now be accepting bitcoin donations to support his work at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  Here is the QR code for my wallet.  Just scan it into your favorite bitcoin payment system and start sending bitcoins to me now!


I sympathize if this is moving a bit too fast for you.  You might even be asking ‘what is he talking about?’ or, ‘what has The Buckthorn Man been smoking?’  It is no hyperbole to refer to bitcoin as a movement; it is one of the most exciting new technologies to come along since the internet.  From the November 2013 ssue of BitcoinMagazine:

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer digital currency.  It does not depend on any particular organization or person and it is not backed by any commodity like gold or silver.  Bitcoin is a name for both: the currency and the protocol of storage and exchange.  Just like dollars or gold, Bitcoin does not have much direct use value.  It is valued subjectively according to one’s ability to exchange it for goods.

It took me a bit of investigation to appreciate the revolutionary, game-changing, nature of bitcoin.  From it’s roots, eloquently expressed by it’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto, it has matured into a bonafide, 21st century solution, to the corruption endemic in our current, central banker controlled, fiat money system.  The Federal Reserve banks are privately owned and, with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913, the U.S. Congress bestowed on them the power to create money out of thin air; they are accountable to no one.  Just listen to former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke telling Representative Alan Grayson to pound sand when he asked which foreign banks got bailed out to the tune of $550,000,000,000 during the meltdown of 2008.

But it is the bitcoin software and distributed architecture that has captured my attention.  I cut my teeth programming in C++ and when I found out that bitcoin was written in this language, I had to take a look at the source code, which is open to anyone to inspect, or clone to build something totally new.  I’m off on a new adventure and, if I can get my chops back, I’d love to go back to work programming for a bitcoin startup (I can hardly believe I’m saying that.)

Meanwhile, back at The Springs, my bête noire is Garlic Mustard.  It’s everywhere and I’ve noticed that in the places where I sprayed it with glyphosate the past three years, it is the only thing that has survived.  I committed to going organic because of my fear of poisoning the water in this sensitive location at the headwaters of the Scuppernong River, and my concern about collateral damage, and now the reality of that challenge is daunting me.  I will dig it out of the highest quality locations, or where there are just a few plants, but for the majority of the infestation, I’m going to try cutting it back with the brush cutter to prevent it from going to seed; a fool’s errand perhaps.

Last Wednesday, after dropping off the Buckthorn Barrow at one of the piles Dick Jenks cut up…,


…I worked on the south end of the loop trail wacking garlic mustard with my brush cutter.  Let me know if you have seen enough garlic mustard pictures.

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I have no illusions that this will kill the plants, I’m just hoping that, with repeated mowings, I can prevent it from going to seed.  I mowed all day and then took a walk around the loop and admired this new signpost, #9, marking the location of the hatching house (see Maps and  Brochures.)  Thanks to Jim Davee and Melaine Kapinos for making it happen!


Is it ever going to get warm and sunny?


Yesterday, I was back at it, this time cutting garlic mustard in the area by the old gnarly oak and the old barn site at the bend in the river.

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I’m going to stick it out with this experiment and hopefully the garlic mustard cuttings won’t take root and make matters even worse.  If you are walking the trails at The Springs, and you see some garlic mustard flowering, please, stop and pull it.  And, send me bitcoin if you can!

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See you at The Springs!

p.s. If you are interested in learning more about bitcoin, join me at the Milwaukee Bitcoin Meetup.

I Am Not Buckthorn

The Buckthorn Man has been doing a lot of soul-searching lately.  Could his dis-ease be caused by excessive mind-identification?  Is his preoccupation with past and future at the expense of the present moment dimming the radiant light of his Being?

In an effort to help him sort out his mess, I’ve recently been listening to The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

“The past has no power over the present moment.”

Tolle has deep insight into what it means to be enlightened, but there is something missing it seems and I’m not sure The Buckthorn Man will be able to let go of his ego; his excessive need to be right, his belief that HE knows the truth.  He might respond that we need to understand our past — the origins of the Powers That Be — to have any chance of responding intelligently to the events unfolding around us every day.  The Truth — that which is, that which has actually occurred — does it matter?

The Buckthorn Man has never been one to “go along to get along”; he’s always been an activist speaking truth to power about the 9/11 cover-up, the nefarious origins and dealings of the CIA, the totally insane and misguided “War on Drugs”, the international banking cartel that pulls the levers of power etc… I fear pillow sitting and new age philosophy will never make The Buckthorn Man ignore what he knows.

Last week my mind was troubled and I tried in vain to be in the present moment.  I returned to Ottawa Lake to continue cutting buckthorn on the bluff above the lake in the area around and below campsite #380.  Here is how it looked when I got there.

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The buckthorn were huge!

It was a cold day, hopefully the last for a while.

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The views of the lake are outstanding!

I think that will be the last time I cut buckthorn all day until the Fall; I need to give my left shoulder a rest.

The USGS team came out to reset the water depth indicator in the river; someone had pulled it out.


The sights at The Springs.

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Don Dane cut a lot of brush with the forestry mower on the south end of the nature preserve.  Thanks Don!


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I returned a couple days later still trying to adjust to the reality that I would not be going along with Pati to South Africa.  I piled brush in an area just 100 yards or so down the main trail, towards signpost #1, that Dick Jenks and I cut last December while tending brush pile fires.

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That was a tangled mess and it took me all morning to pile it up.

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When I returned to my truck, I was greeted by Jim Davee and he willingly agreed to help me pull garlic mustard by the old hotel site.

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I really enjoyed his company and we dug out 3 large bagfuls of the herb/weed and I burned them up with my torch.  Ben and Karen Johnson joined us near the Indian Spring and we shared the late afternoon sun.

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See you at The Springs!




Garlic Mustard Update

Thanks again for following our adventures at The Springs!

The Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve, which encompasses the nature trail, is overrun with invasive species including: buckthorn, garlic mustard, spotted knapweed, phragmites and many others. We have made some progress over the past 2.5 years and take heart in that, but there is a long way to go. This past summer I made a commitment to stop using toxic foliar sprays to control invasive species and the challenge remains to come up with effective and efficient alternatives.

Garlic mustard is a biennial weed and the first year growth is lush throughout the nature preserve, especially in areas where we have cleared buckthorn, girdled black locust or otherwise increased the amount of light reaching the ground. Here are a few images of garlic mustard on the south end of the loop trail.




In the old days, I would have sprayed this with glyphosate, aka RoundUp. Now, what to do? I have been working with the DNR to try a non-toxic herbicide and it has taken some time to acquire a sample since the product was new for the DNR. Don Dane navigated the procurement process for me and got 1 gallon of EcoExempt HC, which has the active ingredients: 2-Phenethyl Propionate (extracted from peanuts) and Eugenol (clove oil). There seems to be a lack of research available on 2-Phenethyl Propionate as reflected on this site as indicated by it’s “no available weight-of-the-evidence summary assessment” for key toxicity indicators. This herbicide is less effective in cool weather, and, given the cost, I’m hesitant to use more this fall unless I see excellent results in the area I sprayed yesterday. Speaking of the costs to fight invasive species, I thought this piece from Dow AgroSciences made some valid points contrasting the various options available e.g. what uses more energy and produces more environmental harm: spraying with an herbicide like glyphosate, or transporting 10 volunteers to pull weeds?

It looks like I may be too late this year to attack the first year garlic mustard and we can expect carpets of this weed to flower everywhere throughout the nature preserve next spring. We’ll have to decide whether to continue using EcoExempt, try an acetic acid based herbicide, mow with a brush cutter, or pull the weeds before they set seed.

This past Thursday and Friday (Nov. 7-8) I spent some time stacking buckthorn at The Springs and at Ottawa Lake campground site 335. I’ve been working on the northeast side of the trail in the area around signpost #1 and #2 and recently laid down the buckthorn that surrounded the brush piles I had started. On Thursday I added all the newly cut buckthorn to the existing piles and they are ready now to burn.

It was a cool day and the wood was wet to handle but the sun finally came out revealing fall splendor.





A parting shot.


I spent 3 days clearing brush and thinning the trees around Ottawa Lake campsites 335 and 334 and this wood needs to be piled. Yesterday, under beautiful skies…



… I started, and I’m putting the big pieces that would make good firewood into separate piles.

Sunset at Ottawa Lake.








See you at The Springs!

Spring Reflections

You have to walk a ways down south along the marl pit canal to get a good angle on the sun as it sets farther and farther north on the horizon. The rate of change in the amount of daylight increases as we approach the summer solstice and it is dramatically evident in the big sky country at The Springs. The trees, grasses, flowers and weeds, have responded luxuriantly to the sun and rain and the land is vibrant with myriad shades of lush greens. The Burn back on May 6th was definitely the highlight; a dramatically pivotal punctuation to Spring, 2013.

The Scuppernong Springs are a “world class site”, per former DNR Naturalist Ron Kurowski, and getting more and more well deserved love and attention these days. Spring Lover, Jon Bradley recently erected this beautiful, custom built, tree swallow house near the marl pit bridge.




Thanks Jon! It should be occupied in no time.

Amanda, Melanie and their crew of volunteers continued to install the new interpretive signs that Don Dane made. They look pretty darn good!



I was out at The Springs yesterday and sprayed some spotted knapweed on the Sauk Campground and some garlic mustard, creeping charlie and burdock between the old hotel and barn sites. “What is a weed? A Plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (more good weed quotes here). Rich Csavoy taught me another weed, white cockle, which is in full bloom on the Sauk Campground. Reed Canarygrass is already going to seed amongst the many springs in the river valley. Isn’t it ironic that Cannabis Sativa, one of the most versatile plants on earth, goes by the nickname “weed”?


It was a beautiful afternoon with a refreshing north breeze, deep blue skies and cauliflower clouds sailing by. I cut a curtain of buckthorn and prickly ash between the cut-off trail and the river on a little peninsula where Carl Baumann took some serious cuts last winter. Here is how it looked when I got there.

Five hours later…

A view from the gaging station bridge.


I saved a couple of wild plum trees amongst the buckthorn and found a patch of blue flag irises.



I did some serious relaxing at the marl pit bridge in the evening and wandered down the canal a bit to get these shots of the sunset.






See you at The Springs!

South Branch Scuppernong River

“I’m more ‘here’ when I’m here, partly because I’ve learned more about the river.”, that is how Milton Bates described his deepening present moment awareness in his fantastic book, The Bark River Chronicles. We drew inspiration from Mr. Bates to embark on our own Journey Down The Scuppernong River, and it has been a wonderful, enriching and, unfortunately, a bit disturbing, learning experience. From the pristine headwaters at the Scuppernong River Nature Trail to the final, completely degraded, drainage ditch, that passes through the mud farms west of Hwy 106, the journey has taught us a lot about natural history and the impact of white settlers with their insatiable, often short-sighted, desire to convert natural resources into money — which continues to this day.

On our journey downstream we tried to document all of the tributaries and water sources that feed the Scuppernong River but we missed one of the most significant; the South Branch of the Scuppernong River. I remember now exactly when we encountered it on the second leg of your journey, as we approached an abandoned farm just east of Hwy Z, and I assumed at the time that it was just an irrigation canal.


(full image here)

I even mentioned in a previous post the brook trout that were released into the south branch, but it did not register:


John and Sue Hrobar visit The Springs often, and we discuss, fish, flowers and the pros and cons of intervening to attempt to restore native habitats. Lately, our discussions have focused on what has happened to the brook trout in the stretch of river near the headwaters since we have begun clearing the springs and river. John concludes, because we don’t see trout in the river like we used to, that our efforts have disturbed a critical balance making the river unsuitable for trout. The major change being the removal of water cress, which was literally damming the river and causing it to overflow its banks, but which may have been providing the habitat for bugs and insects on which the trout depend. He suspects that our clearing of all the feeder springs has not increased the flow of water and has only released more mud and sediment into the river. I respect John’s ideas and I’m trying to understand what is going on with the fish. What is good trout habitat and what should a healthy, natural, spring-fed river look like? Here is what the WDNR considers suitable habitat for trout fishing on the Scuppernong River and its tributaries.


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John and Sue enlightened me as to the existence of the South Branch of the Scuppernong River and I really appreciate that. The source is the Stute Springs, just south of forest headquarters. You can follow its course north and west by zooming into this map:

It was really peaceful yesterday morning when I arrived at The Springs and encountered this wind blown cherry tree blocking my access to the parking area at the terminus of a DNR, 2-track, access road at the south end of the trail.


Coincidentally, this happened to be an area where some black locust stumps where protruding in the road and I shaved these as well as removed the downed tree. I continued spraying first year garlic mustard seedlings on the south end of the loop trail using a 2.34% solution of glyphosate and then proceeded to the north side of the scuppernong river to girdle some aspen.


I spent the afternoon piling buckthorn between the north side of the river and the cut-off trail and made another dozen or so piles. John and Sue arrived to say hello and we had a great conversation regarding the restoration effort and then they lead me to this rare patch of kitten tails.


Golden Alexander is in full bloom.


Spider Wort is prolific on the sand prairie.


Our good friend, the north wind, blew into The Springs and it was cool and cloudy most of the day, but when the sunshine finally broke through, it was glorious.





Another spring may have started flowing, check this out:

Views of the Scuppernong Prairie from the Sauk Campground…




… and the marl pit bridge.


My sweetheart, Pati Holman, road her bike the 40 or so miles from Milwaukee to join me and we took a nice walk around the loop trail before heading for home.


See you at The Springs!

Ticks and Mosquitoes

The sensation is like that of a feather vaguely wandering across the skin.  Slowly, like ripples spreading in a pool of consciousness, the mind awakens to the touch; there is something crawling on me! Out at The Springs we are under attack from the ground and air by ticks and mosquitoes. Good Lord! The ticks are thick and “questing” and, along with their airborne allies, they share an affinity for the same flesh to satisfy their wanton blood lust. The ticks leave a memory upon the surface of the skin that comes to mind again and again; long after they have moved on. Every itch and tingle is a tick! They are in My Truck, waiting for me!

Despite the little things that try patience and distract from the pure joy of living, I spent two Happy Days at The Springs this past Wednesday and Thursday (May 29-30). Rich Csavoy joined me on Wednesday and we had a marvelous time girdling aspen, pulling garlic mustard, piling buckthorn and discussing the first principles of philosophy. Here is a video tour of the north side of the Scuppernong River, just west of the old barn site, where we made around 13 piles.

The view downstream from the work site.


Looking at the new brush piles from the hotel site.


We are seeing a green heron quite frequently at the marl pit bridge.


The Sauk Campground as seen from the marl pit.


The pit.


The valley.


Lindsay, and his mate, Connie, stopped over and shared a delicious bottle of Zinfandel from the Lewis Station Winery wine with me and we surveyed the prairie as evening descended.

I was back at it again on Thursday with a stop down at the Scuppernong Spring to get some drinking water.


Here is a walking tour of the Sauk Campground with the advantage of the morning sun behind me.

I took a chance that it would not rain and sprayed 8 gallons of glyphosate on first year garlic mustard seedlings, which literally carpet many newly cleared areas. Then I girdled a clonal colony of aspen on the west side of the river across from hotel site. The goal is to keep the boundary areas along the river valley free of aspen. And finally, I returned to the north side of the scuppernong river, west of the old barn site, between the river and cut-off trail, to pile buckthorn.




Check out this patch of geraniums!


The water level is up to around .4′ from the early spring levels around .34′ and it seems like the river channel is getting more narrowly defined, i.e. some of the marl and muck is getting washed downstream.

The Emerald Springs are constantly changing their configuration.



I recently discovered John Muir’s writings and just listened to The Story of My Boyhood and Youth. I don’t think anyone can describe clouds like John Muir. From The Mountains of California:

When the glorious pearl and alabaster clouds of these noonday storms are being built I never give attention to anything else. No mountain or mountain-range, however divinely clothed with light, has a more enduring charm than those fleeting mountains of the sky–floating fountains bearing water for every well, the angels of the streams and lakes; brooding in the deep azure, or sweeping softly along the ground over ridge and dome, over meadow, over forest, over garden and grove; lingering with cooling shadows, refreshing every flower, and soothing rugged rock-brows with a gentleness of touch and gesture wholly divine.


Scuppernong Storm Clouds.





See you at The Springs!

The Hidden Spring

I’m celebrating! Its been 2 years since I returned to the The Springs and 2 years since I had surgery to remove the cancerous tumor from my neck. So much has changed since then in both me and The Springs; I got healthy, retired and discovered philosophy, and The Springs got some tender loving care including a good cleaning.

One of the most exciting things we did last year was to uncover springs that were totally obscured by watercress, phragmites, cattails, buckthorn, and other brush.


We began the cleanup focused on removing the watercress that was damming the river, without consulting the map above, so it was one surprise after another as we “discovered” the two sets of Hillside Springs, The Hidden Spring and the Hatching House Springs. Yesterday, the morning light was just right and I paid respect to The Hidden Springs.

The views from the steps above the springs.




There are some nice bubblers here.



Marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage frame the springs.





In discovering philosophy, I found my own hidden spring; a spring for my soul. One of the very simple ideas I’m contemplating is from The Yogatattva Upanishad that I found extracted in C. W. Leadbeater’s book The Chakras:


What a beautiful way to visualize the body and breath in harmony with nature!

Chester W. Smith erected the first dam just below the Hotel Springs in 1846 to power a saw mill and the river valley was flooded until 1992. The fires have laid bare the landscape and it is clear where the trout farmers divided the flooded river valley to suit their purposes. We are hoping, if we can check the phragmites and cattails, that some of the original flora might resurface.



This embankment crosses the valley just north of The Hidden Spring.


I continued spraying spotted knapweed on the Indian Campground; this is working very effectively. I sprayed a lot of flowering garlic mustard in the area south of the trail that did not get burned.

This painted turtle was sunbathing on the trail just above the Indian Spring.




I finished girdling the aspen in the area around the old hotel site and piled the remaining brush there as well. Check out this video walking tour.

I spotted some Pussytoes and Wood Betony along the trail by spur to The Emerald Spring. A profusion of new growth is emerging!



See you at The Springs!

Good Morning Springs

How can I describe what a great time I had at The Springs yesterday? The temperature and humidity were as pleasant as a Pacific Island. The air was fresh and breezing and the sunlight clarified everything. My thoughts were occupied by the current time; the present moment. Time is a spiritual current-cy. How do we spend it? What do we pay attention to? ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ and ‘what goes around, comes around’ aren’t just cliches; they are examples of Natural Law, specifically, the Law of Attraction, which is immutably in-force everywhere at all times. So when I say I had a “great time” at The Springs yesterday, I mean it was joyful to invest my spiritual currency paying attention to nature and working to help create the beautiful world that I want to see.

The morning light was flush on the Hillside Springs.





This Green Frog was enjoying the spring too.


There are lush patches of fresh watercress just below the Scuppernong Spring and I harvested a bagful to include in my green juice recipe.



As I was rinsing the watercress at the point where the Scuppernong Spring spills out of its pool and starts to flow as a river, a brown trout emerged from beneath a rock rim and swam about in the pool. I don’t know for sure what is going on with the trout; are they visitors, or a local reproducing population?


Thousands of garlic mustard seedlings have emerged at the south end of the loop trail literally carpeting the ground. I carefully sprayed them with glyphosate trying to avoid the many good plants that are also emerging.


I conscientiously sprayed the spotted knapweed that dominates the sand prairie of the Indian Campground with clopyralid; carefully avoiding the many, many, diverse plants that are also coming up. This sand prairie is going to come alive with color in a couple weeks.

There were more aspen to girdle along the river valley. If we don’t do this, the clonal colonies will spread into and dominate the valley floor.


I piled brush in the afternoon by the old hotel site. You can see the foundation stones in many places now. I forgot to take some pictures, but if you’ve seen one brush pile… I was covered with soot when I finished and took a cool dip in the river by the marl pit bridge to wash off. Clouds moved in and I marveled at their beauty while doing some yoga asanas.




With the video below I attempted to capture one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments.

See you at The Springs!