April 28th, 2010
It’s cold and wet in Davis, WV today, and just barely spring, but here on top of the mountain we’ve found morels! Yes, at an undisclosed location near Blackwater Falls, I found six beautiful morels this morning, arguably the most succulent and delicious mushrooms of all.
Brown and gnarly, morels are hard to find. They blend in perfectly with decayed leaves and soil, and are usually found beneath elm, poplar, sycamore or ash trees, though sometimes in old apple orchards, too. Morels are luscious with butter and cream, mixed in with pasta, or just floured and fried in olive oil.
The Bright Morning Inn’s restaurant serves ramps in the spring, small wild leeks that carpet the hillsides in early spring. But we won’t be serving morels. They too scarce…and they’re one thing that we locals won’t share. But if you’re willing to visit us in springtime, a notorious slow season, we might share with you a few tips about morel hunting.
First morel found April 28, 2010 near Blackwater Falls, WV
April 14th, 2010
- Coiled strands of frog eggs hatching on a refuge wetland pond
Early spring on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge reminds us that the refuge is largely a wetland…what they used to call a swamp. When folks in the lower elevations celebrate redbuds and dogwoods, here in Davis, WV, on the edge of the refuge, we delight in skunk cabbage, and the sounds and sites of many mating frogs. Any puddle on the refuge teems with frog eggs now, and then tadpoles, and then the ground is alive with them. Tiny at first, they head into the woods to offer succulant morsels to their many predators: birds, fish, turtles, snakes…just about everyone finds them appetizing.
Early spring is also time for the annual Woodcock Roundup, where birdlovers come together to identify and count this unusual bird whose mating dance is one of our area’s earliest harbingers of spring. This year the event takes place on Saturday, April 17th at 6:30 p.m. and will be led by refuge biologist Ken Sturm. Be prepared with walking shoes or boots and dress for the weather.
Celebrate this special time of year at one of the most beautiful places in West Virginia. As John Denver once said, it’s the place where you belong.
April 5th, 2010
Early April and ramps we are digging ramps for the Bright Morning Inn restaurant
Early spring in Davis is beautiful, but it’s lackluster when compared to warmer places with their opulent flower spectacles. Our spring is more subtle than that, and it takes forever to get here. That’s why ramps are such a celebration in the mountains. They are proof that the season has finally turned, and they’re a great treat for those of us who seek out wild and local foods.
Ramps are wild leeks, Allium tricoccum to be specific, and members of the lily family. They are a pungent cross between garlic and onion, with delicate strappy green leaves and a white stem that looks a lot like a scallion. Ramps grown on steep rocky hillsides at higher elevations, which makes them a challenge to dig. But they’re worth it. Because they add a marvelous garlicky flavor to bland foods like eggs and potatoes, which is how they’re served at many traditional ramp dinners, called “ramp feeds” by locals.
At the Bright Morning Inn, we scramble them with fresh orange-yolked country eggs and potatoes, or sprinkle them in omelets with bacon and cheese. They’re wildly popular, but they don’t last long. By the middle of May most local ramps have withered or grown too big and stinky, which means one thing: you must eat them, as many as you can, when they’re in season. They’re a spring tonic, and a tangible tie to our forebearers, who relished the first wild greens of the season in all their forms.
On May 2nd the Mount Grove Volunteer Fire Department will host their annual ramp feed near the Tucker County line (about 9 miles north of Davis). From 11 am to 3 pm you can feast on an array of traditional country dishes including fried pototoes, pinto and great northern beans, cornbread, ham and various raw and cooked ramp treats. It’s a truly special slice of West Virginia culture you won’t want to miss. In fact, it has been chronicled in the Spring 2010 issue of Goldenseal, our magazine of West Virginia Traditional Life.
February 10th, 2010
The Bright Morning Inn prides itself on being pet-friendly, which means we allow quiet and well-behaved dogs. However, for folks vacationing in the Canaan area who aren’t staying at the Inn, there’s another lodging alternative: PetRated, a pet sitting and boarding service in nearby Thomas, WV run by local “dog whisperer” Judy Haverty. is more of a vacation retreat for dogs than a boarding kennel. Every day, twice a day, Judy and her charges pile into the Jeep and head for the woods, and for long walks in the trails surrounding town. In the summer, there’s swimming in ponds and creeks, and a shady side yard for lazy snoozing. In winter there’s snow: huge piles of it for jumping and rolling. At PetRated dogs swim, run and play together
Hanging out at PetRated in Davis
under Judy’s watchful care. It’s no wonder that every year more and more locals, and visitors, too, are treating their beloved pets to healthy outdoor education in our beautiful West Virginia hills. For more information visit www.petratedwv.com or call Judy at 304-463-3388
January 20th, 2010
Flower lovers, bird lovers, nature lovers of every description are invited to attend the 49th Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage held May 6-8 at Blackwater Falls State Park. This well-known event brings together wildlife experts, ornithologists, botanists and geologists from area universities and colleges who lead tours of well known flora and fauna hotspots such as Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods, Seneca Rocks, Fernow Forest and Otter Creek, as well as lesser known “secret spots”. The small group tours help participants identify particular plants and birds and point out interesting flora and fauna. It’s a fun and informative weekend to experience early spring in the Allegheny mountains, offering lots of great cameraderie, and a special way to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend with your favorite nature lover. To register for the event or for questions, contact Emily Fleming or Vickie Hash at the WV DNR at (304) 558-2754. For reservations for lodging at the Bright Morning Inn (less than a mile from the park) visit our website at www.brightmorninginn.com. This is a fantastic event for hearty souls who want to learn more about our beautiful area. Don’t miss it!
January 16th, 2010
Cutting a trench in front of Hellbender's Burritos
According to local weather guru Dave Lesher, whose records of Canaan Valley weather can be seen at http://canaanweather.4t.com/, the first nine days of January this year have been the snowiest ever for the past 66 years, which means some of the best cross country and downhill ski conditions in recent memory! At the Bright Morning Inn in Davis we’ve been shoveling, scraping and plowing, and then doing it all over again…to prepare for guests. The inn is mostly filled on weekends this month, but plenty of mid-week slots are open. If you haven’t tried mid-week x-c skiing at Whitegrass or Blackwater Falls you’re missing out on a pleasure mostly known to locals: peaceful woodland trails and a solitude that is sublime. And if you’re a downhill skier at Timberline or Canaan, midweek offers that rarest of benefits: non-existent lift lines.
December 1st, 2009
December at our Davis bed and breakfast means time to pull out the Christmas lights and stock up on salt — sidewalk salt, the kind that sits in sacks by the door to be sprinkled on nearby walkways. In snow country, plain old salt isn’t enough. Every year the town merchants collect money to pay someone to actually blow the snow out of the way, and this year it will be Tyler Elliott’s job. Once the snow flies, and it could be anytime really, Tyler will cut a swath down the two blocks of our main street, and keep it clear until spring. It’s miserable work, but not thankless. Every morning, as we walk down the cleared trench to the post office, we will think of Tyler and silently thank him for keeping the path clear and safe.
December 1st, 2009
In a place where winters are fierce, like this place, cozy is good. And Davis, WV has some of the coziest eateries around. In fact the Inn is surrounded by three of the best restaurants in the region – all within easy walking distance. On our right is Sirianni’s Café, which may be West Virginia’s most beloved pizza joint. It’s an institution, with fresh tasty salads, innovative pasta dishes and fresh and creative pizza choices. Across the street is Hellbender’s Burritos, with giant build your own burritos, lots of specialty burritos and homemade appetizers and desserts. On our left is Muttley’s Steakhouse, home of the $1.09/oz steak dinner on Thursdays and similar deals on Tuesdays. As for breakfast, the hands down winner is the Inn’s own restaurant, which is open to the public and rocks on weekends. The food is fresh, choices ample, and the best part: overnight guests eat for free!
November 18th, 2009
November in Canaan Valley is a quiet time to celebrate Thanksgiving with the family and prepare for the winter ahead. Every month in Canaan is beautiful…and this month is no exception. The cold clear nights offer fabulous stargazing at nearby dark spots off Canaan Loop Road. When the leaves have fallen, the woods surrounding Davis become silvery grey and copper and the crisp dry air is perfect for hiking. But stick to the parks and posted areas near town, as deer hunters dominate the Monongahela Forest when deer season begins Thanksgiving week.