Lindsey Appleseed

The blog of a pioneer:
Botanist; Forager; pastry chef
A modern day Johnny Appleseed.
Late nights in bed with piles of books by my side; graduate school

Late nights in bed with piles of books by my side; graduate school

On the river, I see and watch the sun

On the river, I see and watch the sun

Equinox: A story of a lake in transition

Cracks in the ice; water babbling down a hillside; remnants of the glory of last summer peaks from beneath the snow; and, it has been announced that Spring is here. Just as the clocks turned, let us do the same to our minds; prepare ourselves for the warmth of the sun. Remind ourselves of how it feels to have the window cracked with the wind blowing our hair back as we drive towards new horizons. Remind ourselves of that sleepy daze that overcomes you when you stand under the yellow sun for just minutes, making each inch your skin liven every second. 

A trip to this state park just around the corner from me, changes me over just like the clocks and suddenly I am in the Spring state of mind.

Chaga Tea:

Step 1: Grab hunks of Chaga

Step 2: Slowly simmer in boiling water for 20-30 minutes

Step 3: Stir in a spot of honey with a cinnamon stick

Step 4: Drink and let the antioxidants work their wonders

I’ve been drinking this tea all week and not only do I feel healthier, I feel connected. Not only does foraging while I’m hiking give me a sense of purpose, I know I am part of the natural history of this land; in a little way I am like the native Ojibwe indians that made this land their home for generations before the Scandinavian and German cultures made themselves so prevalent here. 

With all the “busy” in my life right now, a simple cup of tea brings me right back to the simple mind I need to be in each day. With work piling on grad papers stacking upon eating healthy and exercising, not to mention my tendency towards wanderlust, it’s been hard to keep myself grounded for more than ten minutes at a time. I’ll keep drinking my tea, getting up early, going to work, writing my papers until the Spring weather sweeps in a new lifestyle all its own. Change is coming as the ground slowly thaws and the land revels itself to me; a whole new place all over again. 

At the start of the river and through the Birches, hunting Chaga we go…

Just like many weekends past, I found my Subaru packed up with gear and high hopes for a day getting lost among the pines. Feeling a pull from the North, my tires peeled out of my dirt drive in the direction of more snow. Snowshoes in tow, I had made arrangements to meet up with a local hiking group at Itasca State Park near Bemidji. Surrounding myself with others who shared the true grit to get out in the cold weather brought me a sense of community that I’ve rarely felt in the past year. All wise beyond their years, stories flowed freely except mine seemed to perplex a few. See, I was out on a mission, I was seeking Chaga. A medicinal shelf fungus, only growing on Birch trees up North that is ground up and stewed into a tea. It’s said to do wonders for your immune system and is high in antioxidants, so why not hunt it, I asked myself. Hiking brings me peace of mind but I like for it to bring me a sense of purpose as well. 

Straying from the group for my second hike of the day, I started at the headwaters of the Mississippi. The babbling brook seemed so meek and it seemed nearly impossible to fathom such a strong force down South starting from this meager little outlet. Power and strength is earned, it’s soothing to know that nature as to work for its great force too. 

Alone, hiking with my hatchet, I couldn’t help but feel split between a sense pride for my purpose of 1)owning a hatchet and 2)having a reason and need to use it, and a sense of disbelief at how extremely out of touch I’ve become with city living. Next thing I know I’m shimmied up in a tree whacking away at this black tumor on this Birch. Bit by bit, pieces fell deep into the snow and I collected my prize. Now please pause to mentally picture this, then come back and ask yourself if you’d climb a tree for some mushroom that may or may not taste disgusting. This, this right here, is where I differ from many. I’m gaining confidence out here in woods to climb higher trees, venture deeper into the forests and learn new things; I’ll soon be wise and strong like the Mississipp’! Nature and I, our relationship is a two way street these days, giving purpose and providing care day in and day out. 

Tea preparation postings to come soon.

Strawberry of my eye:

Old friends remind you of a self that you might have left behind as you all split onto different roads. We were all different back then, there’s always the good and bad sides to looking back on those days. But with this girl here, it only brought me to a calm state to know after years we really were the same at heart. My dearest Mia came to see me up here in the frosty, rural rolling hills of Central Minnesota and only complained once or twice about her toes and fingers being frozen; I can only say how proud I am to have a friend that will put up with my over excitement to venture into the frigid weather in all conditions. We went out to the state park to hunt winter mushrooms and milled through the streets of Fargo, all with a high of about 10 degrees. She experienced the country twang talkings at the local Underwood bar which consists primarily of hunting raccoons and ice fishing, and all with such grace. This girl right here, who the day I saw her walk into my high school as a transfer student, just knew she would be a friend I would have for so many years to come, and even today, I have never met anyone else with a stronger sense of self and courage to be the person they are, no secrets or hangups attached. She taught me, unknowingly, all through high school to accept myself and follow my interests no matter how divergent they were from others paths. And now today, she is going to school for fashion and I save wetlands and escape to the woods whenever possible, but our friendship couldn’t be stronger. So, we are different today, but our love for each other is just as real as when we were young sixteen years olds.

Off the path:

Looking back on it, you know when you have one of those weeks where you didn’t just step off the path you were on, no, you right about jumped off the railroad tracks and into a deep, cold, dark river. You never see it coming. All week you’re falling, mood swinging like a leaf unpredictably ascending down to the waters surface. You know there is an end to it, not quite sure when, until, suddenly you are plunging your head out of that freezing water; eyes open wide and gasping for air. Awake now you can fill those lungs deep and breath again knowing that the descent is over; you have hit the bottom without even realizing it. 

I had feared to define myself as someone who has tendencies towards melancholy. It plagued me throughout high school and college until I learned to welcome the emotions, let them explain themselves and then allow them to wash away and flow out of me; they lingered no longer. 

This week was not any different, unaware of the melancholy until I was emerging from the cold depths of that icy water on the rock bottom. I could only sigh with a smile, thinking to myself “Duh” this was just one of those weeks but while you are falling it seems that everything is stacking, one upon another upon another; higher, steeper. The mushrooms know this feeling, seamlessly climbing those struggling trees; leeching off them. 

These weeks need to happen, they ground us deeper. Where I felt my boots were set in Minnesota, they are now knee deep in mud, muck and snow, and I refuse to lose a battle against the changes in my life. The wild has always freed my thoughts and grounded me, so that is where I will run to. I sought it out and it cured me like always; like a good friend. With tracks behind me and a heavy breath, I see the past week through a cleared mind’s perspective as I gracefully step back onto the trail I set out for. 

Reflections:

Off the water of the river or dirty panes of glass in the barn window, refracting light and reflection. I finally could afford to buy a pair of snowshoes and now I go wherever I please, regardless of the snow and weather. The pictures above are my reflections of my homestead and the way I want you to perceive it. There’s character and age, not only in the boards of wood on the barn but on the wheels rusted, pulled from the river adjacent to our house. There are stories here and more to be made. The river has been frozen for the past month I have lived here, but with the thaw (non- subzero weather), the power of the water broke through. The barn is still functional and I have convinced my roommate to buy chickens and hopefully (cross your fingers) a goat this spring. Soak up the white, crisp snow now for it will be gone too soon and will swell my river up into a rage; right into spring. 

Spring, oh yes, I cannot wait to see the true contours of this land and greet it with excitement for our future together. But for now I will take snow, stars and a cold sun.

I admit, it may be an addiction:

I must apologize for my absence lately but graduate school is gearing up for the semester and it is hard to justify the importance of editing photos and posting on a blog when I have a mile high of e-mails all containing homework in my inbox. All for the sake of the future, all part of the process to get where I am going. So graduate work paired with my stress reliever, hobby and slight obsession with baking I have been a little tied up. I usually find myself getting home from work and the gym late in the evening and just doing homework doesn’t seem like enough to get me through, so I find myself baking. Cookies, muffins, donuts…I just cannot stop myself; it just makes me happy to create something that then might just makes someones bad day better tomorrow at work. 

So I have no posted all of the great things I have been baking recently, mostly because I eat them before I remember to photograph them, but, here are the recipes so that you might feel inspired to try something new in the kitchen as well. 

Blackberry-blueberry muffin (pictured above): altered to be vegan by replacing dairy and eggs for almond milk and applesauce http://thevanillabeanblog.com/2011/07/the-basic-muffin-recipe.html

Chocolate bundt cakes (pictured above): http://www.ohladycakes.com/2014/02/chocolate-bundt-cakes-with-almondmilk-caramel-sauce.html

Vegan Chocolate lava cakes (with beets!): I made these for Valentine’s day and they were amazing; must try! http://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-chocolate-lava-cakes/

Is it paradise? 

It may be the fact that it’s late, or the songs playing in the background are mingling amongst my thoughts, but, regardless, all is well and it right is in place. The snow is deep here, and I step in; eager. So much to experience, so much joy to be collected amongst the trees and across the open wide icy lakes. Tactfully stepping one at a time into the trails made by someone just a day or two ago, my blood is running hot regardless of the cold and I will hike until Minnesota turns my toes and fingers blue.