Into the Rainy Woods


We’ve had unseasonably warm weather for going on two weeks now. Trees are budding. Grass is trying to green up. And so I started to wonder if my ramps might be confused and coming up early. I’m always eager to check on my ramps project each spring. I started planting ramps on the hillside behind our house three years ago. It will take at least five years to get enough spread to even think about harvesting some, and even then, I’ll probably wait longer.

It’s too early for ramps to be up, but once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and since it was raining and I’m insane, that meant I had to clamber onto the hill and look.

Ramps or no ramps, there are lots of things growing in the woods. I’m an awesome woodland gardener, even in the winter!

Check out my moss.

And my ferns.

At this point, Morgan, who was home from school early because of high water, looked outside and wanted to know what I was doing walking around on the hill in the rain. Then she threatened to lock me out of the house. “I’m looking for ramps!” It was a legitimate endeavor!

You have no idea what adverse conditions I’m working under here.

These leaves got left behind in the great leaf drop of 2010. They miss their friends.

Look, the lichen is in bloom!

I walked all over the hillside, raindrops falling on my head, but I didn’t find any ramps. (Suzanne! Grow UP! It’s too early for ramps.)

By the way, I love this little collection of rocks and moss.

It’s where the fairies hold their meetings.

By this time, I’d left the hillside and wandered out the old logging road.

I don’t ever leave the woods emptyhanded.

I love winter arrangements of different textures, interesting shapes. It’s not a vase of spring wildflowers, but it doesn’t pretend to be either. It’s the best of winter, starkly beautiful and a little bit mysterious. I tucked a bit of moss at the bottom.

Take a walk in the winter woods this weekend and take something home. Hurry–the lichen’s in bloom. Tell people you’re looking for ramps. Even if you don’t have any or even know what they are. And even though it’s too early. It makes your outing sound legitimate. Especially if it’s raining. And if you’re lucky, you might even find a fairy gathering spot, too!

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on February 25, 2011  

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40 Responses | RSS feed for comments on this post

  1. 2-25

    I’m pretending I went with you – what a glorious day for a romp in the woods! I love your ferns, fungi, moss, lichens, and especially the little black and white critter that was with you!!!

  2. 2-25

    God I wish I was back in the Appalachians! They are such a perfect place for people with big imaginations, who love the mix of texture and the green of the hills and the history of the place.

    The picture with the fungus was amazing! What beauty West Virginia has!

  3. 2-25

    So. Jealous.

  4. 2-25

    Beautiful pictures!

    I have been planning a trip to the woods….when it quits raining.

    This is more of the “ordinary splendor” you live in.

  5. 2-25

    Sadly, we are still under many feet of snow here.

  6. 2-25

    All looks beautiful against the backdrop of a green BLENKO waterbottle from Milton, WV!

  7. 2-25

    No woods nearby for me to explore. But I enjoyed your journey! And I’m going to research what ramps are!


  8. 2-25

    Hi Suzanne….the best thing about your rainy winter woods walking was the Fairy meeting place! Reminds me of my older sister telling her little grandbabies that fairies lived under the rose bush and cabbage leaf in her gardens. Lord, we all need some beautiful imagination in our world, don’t we? Thank you for sharing!

  9. 2-25

    Mossy tree knolls and mossy rocks TOTALLY make me think of fairy gathering spots. We have so many here. We even have a fairy trail with red and blue berries amongst broad leaves. So fairyish!
    The rain looks so refreshing where you are. Here it’s still winter. 3-4 feet of snow all around. But… I’ve come to appreciate the winter time and my husband and I are both sad to see it go. I think I’ve finally hit the point in my life where I can be more patient with each season. After all, seasons change! Have a beautiful week sweet Suzanne!

  10. 2-25

    We got about 5 inches of snow yesterday, so everything is covered again. This weekend thunderstorms and freezing rain. Then locusts. Maybe some frogs or bloated cows. Hail on fire, or some other plague.
    Just another day in northeast Kansas,

  11. 2-25

    Totally understand! The excuse to go walking behind the house here is looking for the wild ginger. Or to check the violets. Or whatever… :snoopy:

  12. 2-25

    You go to the places in my heart…

  13. 2-25

    We got douced with snow last night and it is 23degrees outside, so no hikes for me. That means every hill in NW Oregon is slick. It will get higher and sunny and 23 tonight so it won’t last. I used to love walking in the woods. Not much anymore. Your gatherings are beautiful. Blessings our friends

  14. 2-25

    OMG! I’m not alone! Someone else likes to tramp about and shoot pix of lichen and fungi! LOL I always enjoy your blog Suzanne; you are a woman after my own heart.

  15. 2-25

    No, Suzanne, don’t EVER grow up!!! :fairy:

  16. 2-25

    Enjoyed looking at your forest. We have hardly any trees let alone forests in corn and soybean land. More snow too. Double ugh, ugh….Bed and breakfast in West Virginia here I come!

  17. 2-25

    Please tell me you’ll be out there digging ramps soon!!

  18. 2-25

    I love the rain and the woods. Awesome photos you took on your walk. Wish I was there too.

  19. 2-25

    Our woods grows fairy rings, love it! Yes gotta get out there soon. Maybe when the snow gets a little lower…with more in the forecast.

  20. 2-25

    I love rocks, and moss, and lichens! I love fairy folk and walking in the dark damp wood! And ferns! How I love ferns… thank you for my first late winter walk in the woods. There’s still too much snow and ice around here!

  21. 2-25

    LOVE the 2nd picture!

  22. 2-25

    What is a ramp?

  23. 2-25

    I love our woods in the spring. Acres and acres of everything dripping in moss, lichen everywhere. There’s no question that the fairies live here!

  24. 2-25

    All right. I’m heading out now. But I don’t think Iowa has ramps…ever.

  25. 2-25

    I’d love to walk around in the woods. I need to wait until the snow goes down. We’ve had a record 80+ inches in MN so far this year. Thanks for the walk along with you.
    MN Mona

  26. 2-25

    Denise, click the link in the post (at the top where it says my ramps project) to find out more about ramps!

  27. 2-25

    I enjoy photographing the little surprises found at my in-law’s place in Fairmont when we visit; haven’t been on an old logging road in years. Thanks for the walk, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

  28. 2-25

    Hi Suzanne,
    Do you think your friend would sell me some ramps to plant? We live in Western NY with some wooded areas…don’t seem to have them around here, and no one knows what I am talking about…sigh.
    Your blog inspires me. Thank YOU!

  29. 2-25

    Tons of snow here. No woods nearby either *sigh*. My childhood home was near a woods with a beautiful rock formation, rather large, sort of in a semicircle. I always made up stories about fairies holding their revels there.

    Later on, my mom learned from one of our older farmer friends that actually it was a meeting place for the 7 Nations American Indian tribal councils for hundreds of years. He had an old history book that told about it. Sometimes truth is more interesting than fiction. (although I still like fairy stories) :fairy:

  30. 2-25

    Susanne You are a gal after my heart I love these Photos I cant wait to get our New Camera so I can get out to the woods myself….
    LOVE LOVE LOVE the moss & Fungus shots even Boomer got is Butt in LOL.

  31. 2-25

    I frequently tell my kids about fairy spots and let them leave out cookies and stuff for them.

    ps the easter bunny is also the taker of pacifiers, he takes them and leaves you an extra special basket, and brings them to little babies who need them. (hey i want my kids to have an imagination)) lol

  32. 2-26

    What are those bottles next to the pitcher? Wine bottles? Thanks.

  33. 2-26

    Karen, I don’t think they are wine bottles, but I don’t know. They were given to me. I use them as small vases.

  34. 2-26

    I can’t wait! We still have lots of snow and the ground but warm temps too, so it is melting!

  35. 2-26

    We are still under feet of snow just a romp to the hen house is a challange still. I am even looking forward to Montana Mud season. I will be May before we see dry bare ground.

  36. 2-26

    Oh that reminds me I love the picture of the green fungi. I have never seen them look like that beautiful.

  37. 2-26

    This is my favorite time of year to get out in the woods. It’s so easy to pick your way through because things are as died back as they possibly can be and snakes are no where to be found. Morel season is coming up. Woo-hoo!

  38. 2-27

    :cry: I’m so homesick I can cry !!!

  39. 2-27

    Beautiful, wild, wonderful West Virginia – great pictures. I like walking in the rain too. My first experience with ramps was a ramp dinner at the schoolhouse in Webster Springs. I had gone home with my friend who lived there. The food was good and the people were great.

    Formerly from Fairmont

  40. 2-28

    Oh my goodness, those last photos reminded me of my Mom, SO MUCH.
    She is a big fan of sticks in vases, and the moss makes it even better.
    Not to mention I think I spied a froggy in the background? :turtle:

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