Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Robert Bateman is regarded as one of the world's greatest wildlife artists. This site has some very interesting information about children and nature. Take a few minutes to explore it. It also features a contest open for youth ages 18 and under. The theme: "Forests"

Look at this link for information!

Enter the Robert Bateman

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

While watching the rain today...a surprise!

Fall at The Cabin Path....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

For the past 2 weeks, the Home School Thursday Workshops have been learning about insects. Since insects make up 95% of all critters, we learned how and why they are so important! We learned about some invasive Fire Ants, and we even found an underground Yellow Jacket's nest..luckily before they found us! We finished our workshops with Build a BUG.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Every week as I walk the trails, I watch for plants that catch my attention. Usually it's a bloom, or the fact that it seems to be a food supply for one of the critters, but this week, the Sassafras Tree spoke the loudest! I discovered new Sassafras Trees in several new places. Today as I sat at in the rock circle on the hill, I gazed up at a passing Pileated Woodpecker. The wind made the leaves of the Sassafras look like hundreds of waving hands. I knew then, it would be my plant of the week!

Sassafras belongs to the Laurel Family. Its leaves resemble a hand with three extended fingers. All parts of the Sassafras were important to Native Americans and pioneers. Infusions were made from the bark of the roots and were taken internally to treat fevers, as well as a remedy to treat diarrhea, rheumatism, measles, and scarlet fever. An infusion of the roots was used as a blood purifier, and it was even used as a dietary aid for those overweight! Infusions of the plant were used as a cough medicine, mouthwash, pain killer, and gargle for colds. Root infusions were used as a wash for eye problems. Decoctions made from roots were used to treat heart troubles. An infusion of the plant was mixed with whiskey and used for rheumatism, tapeworms, and as a blood remedy to purify the blood. The leaves were made into a poultice that would be rubbed onto bee stings, wounds, cuts, and on sprained ankles.

In addition to this variety of medicinal uses, Sassafras was used for food, construction, and other purposes. The leaves were used fresh as a spice, much like bay leaves, for flavoring in meat soups. Leaves were dried and pounded and used as a thickening agent and to added for flavor to foods and soups. “Filé”, made from the ground roots or leaves, is an important spice still used today in Cajun foods, such as gumbo. The white or red roots, made a pleasant-tasting tea, although the red roots were preferred, young leaves were also used. The wood from the Sassafras tree was used to make furniture and boats. The flowers were used as a fertilizer when planting beans. The plant was used as a fragrance to scent soap. The bark contains oil of Sassafras, an important flavoring. The bark was used as an emetic purification after funeral ceremonies. The roots were often used as a brown dye. A Sassafras in your yard also helps to keep mosquitoes and flies away! It was also used to make root beer, but because it has been linked to cancer, it is no longer used for it.

Wildlife is attracted to the Sassafras, and I have noticed that it is a favorite of the beaver. The fruit of the Sassafras is quickly eaten by birds, squirrels, and deer. Early settlers thought that the tree's wood had magical qualities to ward off bad spirits. Beds were often constructed from the wood of the Sassafras to protect them as they slept. Author Albert Constantine Jr., in the book Know Your Woods, wrote that Sassafras has had a peculiar history. "It was once supposed to possess miraculous healing powers, and people believed that it would renew the youth of the human race. The production of sassafras oil is perhaps the largest industry dependent upon this tree." A Fountain of Youth???

Sassafras Trees grow on the rock circle hill at The Cabin Path. I wonder if they sprouted from the roots of those used by the Native Americans in their ceremonies long ago. Their leaves will soon turn a beautiful orange and gold...and then fall and cover the ground with a carpet of little "hands". They are a favorite of the Tree Workshop groups because they are so easily identified, but they are a favorite of mine for all of their mystical history and beauty.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Plant of the Week:

Saint Andrew's Cross (Hypericum hypericoides)

There is a little bushy plant that grows at The Cabin Path. Its leaves are soft to the touch, and most of the year, it goes unnoticed. In the fall, there are little yellow "X's" that sprout and bloom. Hence, the name, St. Andrew's Cross. I find that it is a close relative to St. John's Wort. Many of the early herbalists used St. Andrew's Cross for many of the cures of its cousin. One of the earliest cures was for snake bites! It was often boiled in milk, poured on the bite, and the rest was consumed. Other uses include crushed leaves to treat nosebleeds, roots and leaves boiled to treat fevers, colic, sores, and as an eyewash. The bark of the plants was often chewed and packed around an aching tooth. The most interesting remedy using St. Andrew's Cross was used by the Native Americans. The roots were boiled and cooled, and then it was used to bathe the legs of babies that were slow to walk. It was believed to strengthen the legs and make them stronger. Older NA also used it as a treatment for rheumatism. (I may look into this one a little more!)

In researching and learning about wildflowers, I am fascinated by the old remedies. A Cherokee friend once told me that, "the remedies you need will grow in your backyard." I know that the forest was the early pharmacy, and I remember my Grandmother using plants for coughs and colds and everyday scratches. I wish I had paid more attention! I am taking it a plant at a time, and learning a new plant each week that catches my attention... a weekly blog makes me stick to it! I'm blessed to have a big backyard, so it should be a pretty good learning experience!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Senses in Nature Part 2 Workshop for the Home Schoolers! We had a great group, and the rain held off for our trail walk! After looking for ways that animals use their senses in nature, we headed back to the Gathering Room for our Senses Masks! Too wet to use many of our trail finds, so we used materials found the the art boxes. Creative minds and a little glue, scissors, and yarn helped us to construct masks (with a secret compartment on the back!) It will be a place to keep favorite finds from The Cabin Path.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Elephant's Foot! A strange, but very descriptive name for this wildflower. It is identifiable in all seasons because of its big, flat and fuzzy leaves that hug the ground, but in the fall, it shoots up stalks of purple flowers. They are not rare, but very fun and easy for children to identify. There are other names, Devil's Grandmother (I never found out why!) and Wild Tobacco Plant. I thought perhaps with that last name, it was used for smoking, but the large leaves and the fact that it commonly grew next to large tobacco fields was the answer I found for that one. The Lumbee Indians call it Wood’s Mullein and describe a poultice of it held on the chest to treat pneumonia. For centuries, Mullein has been hailed for many healing abilities. Research indicates some of Mullein's uses are "analgesic, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, antiviral, bactericide, cardio-depressant, fungicide, hypnotic, sedative and pesticide"!! A "heal all" remedy! Elephant's Foot caught the attention of drug manufacturer Parke-Davis in the late 1890's when they marketed a liquid extract of the herb as an expectorant. The interest in the herb did not last, but many Native Americans and old timers still use the large leaves and roots for treatment of sores and even staph well as for respiratory problems.

Elephant's Foot is a perennial, and it commonly grows in the southeastern United States. It is found in dry, open woodlands. There are similar species that have smaller leaves and clusters of flowers.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina) is a terrestrial turtle found throughout the eastern United States, and is one of the longest lived animals in the world. Box turtles have a high domed carapace (top shell) and hinged plastron (bottom shell), which allows these animals to completely close up their shell to protect themselves from their enemies. The decorative shell patterns of box turtles are extremely interesting, and each box turtle is unique. The eyes of the male are usually red, and the female's eyes are a yellow brown. The male can also be identified by having a concave shape on the under side shell (see pic). Box turtles are omnivores with diets consisting of anything from slugs and snails to mushrooms and berries.

The turtle is very sacred to many Native Americans. In fact, many tribes attribute the creation of the world to the turtle. One NA legend believes that a sky girl fell to our world, which at the time had nothing but water and water based animals. The animals took her to the wise turtle. The turtle told them to put sand grains from the bottom of the ocean on his shell. They did this and soon the land grew and grew until the sky girl could live on this land. Many NA tribes believe this new land is North America.

Many box turtles have been found at The Cabin Path, but I have noticed a decline in their numbers over the years. For the last three years, I have been photographing and keeping a journal of the box turtles. Early fall seems to be a very active time for them, and they can also be found after a rain. Fire ants will disturb the nests of box turtles and eat the eggs, and I suspect that they are the single most cause of their declining numbers at The Cabin Path. I use chemical insecticides for very few things here, but I do treat the fire ant nests.

The Cabin Path is a certified animal habitat, and every effort is being made to help our Box Turtles to thrive.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Fall 2009 will offer more workshops with Dr. Clifford Blizard and his wife, Valerie. I worked with Clifford and the Hill Country Montessori School last year. He is a walking encyclopedia with many degrees in geology and environmental science..and education. Valerie is a talented photographer, botanical artist, and student.
His BLOG is and you can read about some of the workshops that he is offering this fall...some of them at The Cabin Path.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Looking for a BIOLOGY project???
What about MYCOLOGY?

There are many wonderful field guides available at your book store or the public library! Bring your camera, nature journal, and field guide and explore the mysterious world of mushrooms!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Cabin Path has a Facebook Page with updated events, workshops, gatherings, and news!

Don't miss out on all of the NEW FALL 2009 projects. Something for ALL AGES!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fall at The Cabin Path 2008

Join us this year for new workshops, events, and fun.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Comet was a fixture around The Cabin Path.... a well kept secret among friends. I first saw Comet one spring about 9 years ago. He was a tiny, frightened, spotted baby deer tangled in a patch of honeysuckle. I watched him from a distance thinking he was playing, but I soon realized that he was indeed hung. I walked slowly toward him (watching for Ma in case she was close by) and began talking to him. He protested for a moment, and then he seemed to sense that was not going to hurt him. I sat on the ground and hugged him in my lap as I unwrapped the vines from around his little stick like legs. It was evident that he had been trapped for some time, and he lay quietly, probably from exhaustion, but he seemed to instinctively know that I was there to help. After some effort, I freed his little legs and sat holding him and talking softly to him. He then stood up, wagged his tail, and trotted off. That was the first time I met Comet. I saw him many times that spring. His Mom would bring him into the pasture to eat the ducks' corn and lick on the horses' salt block. Most of the deer knew the sound of my golf cart, and I would often sing to them when I was working on the trails or walking. They would come when I called, "Here, Babes!" My hunting friends and family would roll their eyes and shake their heads, but they understood the special bond that we had. (The Cabin Path is posted and the hunting season for deer in our area is bow only.)
Two years ago, just after dark, I heard a shot and saw a light in our front woods. Without thinking, I ran out the door and started yelling. To my surprise, I caught up with them! It was a camo decked guy who mumbled that he lived right up the road, and he was tracking a deer he had shot. He was still carrying a gun, so I knew that he was not bow hunting, and he had a huge spot light..another "not suppose to do that" in the hunting world. I asked if he knew he was on private land, and asked how did he not see the posted signs that outlined the property. He spouted, "Oh, you're one of THOSE!" I replied by saying, "Yeah, if you mean someone that doesn't want someone shooting in their front yards! Yeah, I am!" He continued trying to tell me why people should hunt and how ignorant I was for thinking that way, and I sternly told him that people CAN hunt, but they need to obey the rules, and they certainly shouldn't trespass to do it! My husband arrived about that time..a relief to both of us, and he retreated. Several days later, the buzzards led me to the carcass of a little doe. (He bragged at the local store that he shot a trophy deer and some crazy woman stopped him from tracking it!)
Last October, I again heard shots and saw lights in the front woods. All were in bed except me, so I did not try to confront them. Tears filled my eyes, and I whispered, "Run, Comet!" The next morning, I left to feed horses early, and I called the deer. They all seemed upset and spooked..and no Comet. For the next two weeks, I walked and I called, but no Comet. "Some great hunter!" I thought, and it was creepy to think that he had probably been watching in the woods to learn his pattern. (and mine) Comet would eat at the barn and then sleep in front of our house, and then follow me to the barn in the mornings when I fed the horses. I realize he was a wild animal, but it was not his fault that most of his range had been bulldozed. He felt protected on our property. He was not fenced in, but I never knew him to wander very far...he was so predictable! I felt that I had betrayed his trust. He had been a gentle friend for many years. I watched him chase the ladies around the cabin, spar with the young bucks, and even gently nudge the new spotties every spring. He was never aggressive, but he was respected by the other bucks. Avid hunters agreed that he was special!

There is a new little spottie in the woods, and I hope that Comet is the Papa. I still watch the deer in awe, but I no longer encourage their trust. I know there are many responsible hunters in the world, but I know of at least one that is not. No one can convince me that Comet was not killed that a gun.. and with a spot light, and on posted property. I'm sure Comet is on a wall somewhere, and he may have made it into a magazine or two. I'm sure the story is wonderfully exciting...the true sportsman with the trophy deer! I miss my friend, and I will never forget the almost 10 years he was a part of The Cabin Path.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Nature Watch Workshop yesterday was a lesson about WETLANDS and the importance of protecting the plants and animals in these magical spots. We walked back down to the labyrinth cove to check on the tadpoles, and I noticed a strange alien like pod growing on a submerged stick. My first thought was an egg pod of some type...but the size of it was puzzling.

I notice several more dotted around in the water. Truthfully, it looked like something from an outer space movie..especially since there were the crater like bream beds just behind it. (top pic) Bream will fan out circles in the mud with their tails and lay their eggs in the carters... and then protect them from predators. We pulled the stick with the glob attached to examine it closer. It was a very alien like pod...slimy and solid, not mushy..too big to be frogs eggs.... or fish eggs...very unusual.

My Internet search (starting with "alien like egg pods in lake") led me to a trail of other, not extraterrestrial in nature, but MOSS ANIMALS in nature! Pectinatella magnifica... Bryozoans, to be exact! No, they are not harmful, in fact, they live only in very clean, unpolluted waters!

One article, describes them. It was a fun discovery, especially since we were talking about WETLANDS! Another Cabin Path lesson learned!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Life gets complicated. Everyday stress and worries often fill the days, and even the nights.
I had a workshop last fall on the 5 senses in nature. I asked a group of children to name their 5 senses. "Sight!" exclaimed one child..."Smell!" said another..."Taste!" then "Touch!" and finally, "Hearing!" About to continue the walk and lesson, I noticed a little boy with his hand up. "Miss Sarah!" he said. "I know another sense!" I paused and asked him to name it. His answer, "I have a sense of WONDER!"
Too often we forget our sense of wonder. We take for granted a smile, a flower, our families, our memories, and sunsets. Simple things that would be missed and often go unappreciated...and even important things that will be missed and often go unappreciated.
I no longer call my workshop The Five Senses in Nature, it's simply Senses in Nature. Whenever things get hectic and seem overwhelming, I pause and remember the lesson I learned from a little boy one day last fall on a walk in the woods at The Cabin Path.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Kingfisher was teaching her babies to fly this morning! Every year, I watch and wait as she begins her ritual. They first start on the railing on the dock. She lines up the babies, and she fearlessly flies out over the lake, pausing only briefly before disappearing under the water in a crashing dive. She surfaces with her catch and flies to the fence post on the opposite side of the lake. The babies sit in awe. She then calls them with a clicking sound, and the babies fly over the water. They join her on the fence, and it is repeated over and over again. One by one, the babies try their first dives. Most of the time, their first attempts are just "fly bys"...they chicken out at the last moment, and Mom sits fussing. It is absolutely hypnotic to watch. The Mom calls, scolds, and seems to reward their courageous efforts. Patiently, she calls until every one of the babes learn to fly, dive, and hunt for their first little fish. They practice tirelessly, and then sit sunning and resting, and then continue their lessons. It's an important lesson to learn, and one that not only depends on survival, but trust...another one of those life lessons learned at The Cabin Path.
A wonderful link for birds is
It gives ID and the calls of birds. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Thursday Workshops will continue through the summer. It's a wonderful time for a Nature Watch! Some weeks, we will have a specific topic (request one!) and some weeks, we will let Nature surprise us! Last Thursday, we saw many different kinds of fungi and mushrooms, baby frogs, leaf patterns, and BUGS! A fun day outside!

Join us Thursdays 10 AM - 1 PM..Bring a sack lunch!

Monday, May 25, 2009

After a day of scattered showers, I decided to walk around the lake before dark. I paused to watch the Great Blue Heron fishing silently along the shoreline. The croaks of the frogs, the fog on the water, and the stillness of dusk was so peaceful. I checked the spillway and the beaver's progress of damming it up and picked up an empty water bottle and some tangled fishing line that someone has carelessly tossed away. Even with posted signs, we still have people to sneak in to fish..not a crime, but when they leave "our yard" full of trash, it makes me mad. Once our water leaves the spillway, it joins a creek that joins the Chattahoochee our trash becomes many people's trash. I received a post from a Home School group about an effort to clean up the river. Too long, the Hooch has been abused, and the "South Side" has suffered the most. Many complain (myself included) but very few efforts have been made to clean it up. A group called Georgia Trail Outfitters and Richard Grove are planning a weekend cleanup June 26 -28 on our part of the river! One trip has already been made. Richard and 3 others have hauled out 1,130 lbs of trash from Plant Wansley to Franklin. Please help to spread the word. The web site links will give you more information. There are many ways to help, so please do visit the sites and support this great cause.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day....a sign of summer, school's out, and a day "off" from work disguise its true meaning. My Dad was a WWII veteran. He was a B-17 pilot with the 303rd Hell's Angels. Shot down over France, he survived a crushed ankle and being taken a POW, and his life was taken by Alzheimer's in 1996.

I treasure a plaque that was sent to the family by Bill Adams. We exchanged letters and stories, and he sent me many pictures of his family. His carvings were gifts of appreciation for the American efforts in England, and some of his story can be found on the link below.

Take time to remember all of our veterans on this Memorial Day.

Another year of fun with the Hill Country Montessori!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Spring is here!! After years of drought, we have been enjoying the spring rains. I took a group of middle schoolers from a local Montessori School to see the Hepatica and Bloodroot that I found blooming last week. They had passed their peak, but we were greeted with Trillium and Virginia Pennywort. The Trillium this year are huge, and one of them had a pale yellow bloom. I e-mailed a lady from the GNPS ( asking her about the yellow color. She felt that it was just a variation of the brownish/red Trillium, but it was unusual to see. Tomorrow will be another sunny day before another round of rain, so I will walk the woods and continue my treasure hunt!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy New Year!!

See what the Home Schoolers did last Fall 2008!!!