Getting Your Mushroom Eyes and Learning to Fully Observe Nature

The Druid's Garden

Jack-o-Lantern Mushrooms growing under a log (not edible, but beautiful) Jack-o-Lantern Mushrooms growing under a log (not edible, but beautiful)

Wild mushroom hunters have a term for how to see mushrooms in the forest–you need to get your « mushroom eyes. » This means that when I enter a forest with the intention of looking for wild mushrooms, I start paying attention carefully to the ground, to the fungal layer in the forest, and to particular patterns and colors. Mushrooms become all that I see. I look for different mushroom patterns depending on the time of year and what the weather has been–in the warm summer months, I might be scanning the trees higher for bits of white (oysters) or yellow (chicken of the woods); I will be looking carefully for bits of orange (chanterelles) or brown (porcini), or particular patterns. If I’m really perceptive, I might even see some elusive black trumpets, who look like decaying leaves…

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Urban Food Profile: Cornelian Cherry Harvest and Recipe for Soda Syrup, Jam, Pickles, and More

The Druid's Garden

I really enjoy foraging for foods in urban environments, you just never know what you are going to find.  In the spring, keep a good eye out for various kinds of flowering trees in an urban or suburban setting–any tree that is flowering is a tree that is worth looking at closely and identifying.  Most frequently, they are flowering crabapples (which are awesome for jellies and other things) or flowering cherries but sometimes you are rewarded with something extra special. Spotting flowering trees at a distance and identifying them is how I found a boatload of urban foragibles this year. Back in June, a few friends and I harvested upwards of 10 lbs of serviceberries from a urban spot in town, and I had spotted another grouping of trees I was excited to return to in the fall–Cornus Mas, or Cornelian Cherry.

Almost ripe Cornelian Cherries Almost ripe Cornelian Cherries

These are…

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Ahoy There Red Admiral!

Amazing 🙂

rambling ratz

The ivy is starting to flower and combined with some sunshine it lures in the pollinators. This pristine red admiral butterfly (Vanessa Atalanta) sunned itself on the nearby laurel leaves.Photo of red admiral

It tried a variety of poses so that I could get its best side.Photo of red admiralMost of these butterflies migrate to the UK from central Europe in May and June. As the climate has become generally milder some hibernate in the south of England.Photo of red admiral

The butterflies that are emerging now are the brood that have hatched here.Photo of red admiral

The adults feed from a variety of nectar sources, they are also partial to rotting fruit.Photo of red admiralThey lay their eggs on the larval food plant, nettles.Photo of red admiralHaving posed sufficiently, the butterfly then had a tasty snack of ivy nectar.Photo of red admiralThe ivy also attracted a rather tatty comma butterfly, along with some bees and hoverflies.

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Stones Rising: A Reflection on Raising a Standing Stone

The Druid's Garden

We gather to the outstretched rope lines, ready to move the 22 foot long stone weighing thousands of pounds by hand. Our goal is about a half a mile away, through hilly terrain. This stone destined for the a place in the ever expanding Stone Circle at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. All have gathered for one purpose: to move this massive stone using our hands and hearts, and to give it a home in the honored northern quarter of the circle.

Part of the stone circle that has been raised in previous years Part of the stone circle that has been raised in previous years

So much preparation has gone into this moment; building this sacred space from the ground up, the years and years of work. Countless hours of developing expertise on how to move stones.  More recent preparations, from the « stone peoples intensive » volunteers arriving a week early to prepare the site, building and securing the moving equipment, developing…

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What does it mean to be a cat sitter?

The Purrfect Job

This happens to me all the time.

‘What are you doing in Ireland?’

‘I live here.’

‘You work?’

‘Er..yes.’ (I always wonder if people are asking me this as in ‘are you on welfare? Taking advantage of my country?’ but I could be over-sensitive…)

‘What do you do?’

(I thought to myself, ‘oh gawd…not again.’)

‘Er…I am self employed.’

‘Oh what is that about?’

(‘Here we go again…’)

‘I have a ‘cat business’. I am a cat sitter.’

Then the reactions are usually one of the followings:

– ‘You are WHAT?’

– ‘Can you make money doing that?’ (I have a separate post to address this question. FOLLOW my blog if you want to know more.)

– ‘What do you actually do?’

So today, once and for all, I will tell you what does it mean to be a cat sitter.

It is A LOT more than just putting down…

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Cat sitter on holiday – France!

The Purrfect Job

Today, I am doing a bit of a different post. For once, it’s not about cat sitting! It’s about me on holiday!

Colleagues in the pet sitting industry around the world know how difficult it is to get holiday when you are a pet sitters. It is one of the major difficulties in this profession. I spoke about this multiple times on this blog, like on here and here.

I work in the evening and weekends due to the nature of this business, I constantly feel very guilty towards my husband and my son that we don’t have a lot of ‘normal’ family time. Even though I know they understand (for one, my husband is also a Certified Professional Pet Sitter) but still I feel I need to make and effort to get away at least once a year so to spend time with my husband and my…

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