Getting out of the car in -3 degrees (feeling more like –10 with the wind), taking our weekly amble through the woods was the least I felt like doing. Add to that equation a complaining teen and you have a recipe for a disgruntled mother.
As always happens, the magic of nature began to soothe frustrated spirits as we tromped new paths. If you could make a nature elixir that bottles what happens when you spend time in nature, we’d be a much more pleasant, kinder society.
Our first bit of magic was to stumble on a licorice fern. I stumbled because I had no idea my son knew what a licorice fern was, so when he pointed it out, I had to take a pic.
Here are a few interesting facts, I learned about this fern:
- the rhizomes of a licorice fern have a sweet taste and medicinal value to treat colds and sore throats (don’t eat unless you’re with an experienced forager!).
- licorice ferns are identifiable because the tend to grow on trees, rocks and logs. My son told me that licorice ferns are the only ones that grow on trees (I wasn’t able to verify this…remember we’re both novice nature people).
Our second delight of the day was to walk a trail with flitting hummingbirds which was very unexpected on this cold, cold day, granted the forest was a few degrees warmer because we were out of the wind. Still February is not a time of year I associate with hummingbird sightings.
The hummingbirds we glimpsed are Anna’s Hummingbirds who live on the West Coast and are a species of hummingbird that sticks around in the winter. With the light filtering through the trees (it was a beautiful sunny, yet cold day) and these little birds flying around our heads, this was definitely one of our better walks. I love how life fires these unexpected moments of joy in our direction when we get outside of our comfort zone (or warm car) and open ourselves up to the experience.
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there. – Unknown
A couple of resources of licorice ferns: