Archive for the ‘Davis West Virginia’ Category

Hunting Chaga in the West Virginia Woods

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Chaga looks like blackened wood, or charcoal, when attached to the tree

Chaga looks like blackened wood, or charcoal, when attached to the tree

When pried from the tree the underside of the chaga is a rich yellowish orange

When pried from the tree the underside of the chaga is a rich yellowish orange


It’s a mushroom, it’s a fungus, it’s a parasite. It’s chaga, and it’s plentiful in the northern mountains of West Virginia. Known for it’s medicinal properties, chaga is brewed into tea that some people believe will boost your immune system and fight cancer. I have no experience with that. But I do know it’s fun to hunt, fun to collect and when you drink it, it tastes like the forest.
Chaga grows on yellow birch trees found in northern forests. Here in the woods surrounding Davis, WV, such trees are numerous.
The bark of yellow birch trees isn’t really yellow, more like a dull greyish green. But it’s clearly papery and birch like, and relatively easy to spot. The trees are also found in the woods ringing the Canaan Valley, in Dolly Sods and in much of the Monongahela Forest.
Hunting for chaga requires patience and persistence, and a few tools, as it has to be pried from the tree. To brew into tea, the flesh is then dried and ground into powder, or, if you’re lazy, small chunks can simply be steeped in hot water (not boiled). This is the preferred method of local folks, who have turned many people onto chaga over the years. The resulting brew is an excellent tonic after skiing or exercise. It makes you feel refreshed, and connected to nature somehow. Maybe it’s just the hydration, who knows.
There’s much to be learned on the internet about chaga, if you’re interested. But the most important thing to know is that getting out in the woods, whether hunting for chaga or not, is always good for you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus

West Virginia Mine Wars Museum Opens May 16th

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

West Virginia, and much of Appalachia, has a conflicted relationship with the coal industry. It’s an industry that provided and still provides good paying jobs in an area where employment is scarce. It’s an industry that produced pride, in jobs that were necessary, important and challenging. But the price for those jobs has been steep: death, disease and environmental destruction.
In the industry’s early years the coal companies held much of the region’s political power. Attempts to mobilize miners to improve working conditions and wages were met with stiff resistance. At one point the battles between the two sides became actual wars.
The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, now under construction in the tiny town of Matewan, WV preserves and interprets artifacts and historical records of the local communities affected by the mine wars, exploring historical events from multiple perspectives through the lives of ordinary people.
The grand opening for the museum is May 16th. You can find out more and even contribute by visiting www.wvminewars.com
It’s an important piece of history. Don’t miss it.

West Virginia Spring: A Sea of Serviceberry

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Spring comes slowly in the northern mountains of West Virginia. Near Davis and Thomas, in Tucker County, we endure a lengthy and dreary mud season when everywhere else is in gorgeous bloom. But by late April, and early May, we are rewarded by a remarkable show of Serviceberry trees. Not just a few, either, but a mass of trees whose delicate blossoms dominate the landscape for weeks.
The show is especially lovely between Davis and Canaan Valley, along Route 32, but in truth it’s beautiful nearly everywhere. It’s a subtle show, though,

Serviceberry trees dominate the landscape in Tucker Co, WV

Serviceberry trees dominate the landscape in Tucker Co, WV

Delicate and subtle Serviceberry blossoms

Delicate and subtle Serviceberry blossoms

one that isn’t often (or easily) photographed.
In the mountains we call the Serviceberry “Sarvis” and locals say the name came from the use of these, the first flowers of spring, at church services held by settlers for early circuit-riding preachers. Whether that’s true or not I can’t say. But it’s a good story and one we like to repeat.
The Serviceberry is a valuable tree for wildlife, producing small sweet berries mid summer. Birds, deer, and bear love them, and a small handful will give you a lift when hiking in Dolly Sods.
Still, it’s in spring, when the blossoms come, that this unassuming little tree is truly unforgettable.

Camp 70 Bridge Opens in Davis, WV

Thursday, October 13th, 2011
This handsome bridge at the end of Camp 70 road in Davis, WV now links CVI property to the Wildlife Refuge

It took awhile but it was worth it. On Saturday, October 15th, at 2 p.m. locals, tourists, politicians, dignitaries and more than one dog will be on hand to cut the ribbon officially opening our new bridge across the Blackwater River.

The bridge was built to replace a rickety but beloved old swinging bridge that townspeople had cobbled together after the flood of 1985, which took out an older bridge that had been used for years.
For awhile it seemed like the project would never happen, and there was considerable distrust and grumbling among the locals who had used the swinging bridge to access nearby biking trails. But sometimes the best things are worth waiting for.
Planning and funding for the new structure demanded cooperation between various government and non-profit entities. These groups included Canaan Valley Institute, The Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Tucker County Trails, and the newest group representing the Heart of the Highlands trail system.
The stocky new bridge is handsome, made of steel, concrete and thick slabs of wood, and it sits at a sublime spot at the end of Camp 70. In addition to the requisite hiking and biking, it’s a great spot for bridwatching, fishing, and general riverside daydreaming.
So come out this Saturday and watch the muckety-mucks cut the ribbon. It’s been a long time coming, and I hear refreshments will be served!
 

Bird Banding in Dolly Sods September 2011

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Entrance to bird banding station at Dolly Sods

Merlin captured at Dolly Sods and about to be freed

Busy scene at Dolly Sods bird banding station

As if Dolly Sods wasn’t fascinating and beautiful enough, there’s an extra special attraction that happens every year in the fall, when birds migrate. Within the Wilderness Area area across from the Red Creek Campground, bird enthusiasts from the state’s Brooks Bird Club (among others)  maintain a banding station along the Allegheny Front. The fine nets that are strewn along the rock outcroppings temporarily capture migrating birds as they travel up over the Alleghenies on their way south.

After gently extracting the captured birds,  the volunteers who staff the station gather information to identify and track the various migratory species. The afternoon these photos were taken they had caught a beautiful Merlin, a type of falcon with a mottled breast and bright yellow feet.
After the birds are caught and observed some are banded and then released to continue their migratory journey.

The bird banding station in Dolly Sods operates throughout September and early October. It makes a great day trip for visitors to Canaan Valley and Davis, WV. And it’s just one of many fascinating reasons for exploring our beautiful West Virginia highlands.

Nets along the Allegheny Front capture migrating birds at Dolly Sods

Bright Morning Inn Gets a New Look

Monday, September 26th, 2011

After 22 years the Inn's sign gets a facelift

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint to give a place a lift, and this year, for the first time since the inn was built, we now have a fresh new sign — a hand-painted sign, which is a rarity in these parts. We wanted a hand-made sign to reflect the special character of the Inn, complete with minor imperfections.

The new sign was painted and installed by local handyman Al Pityo. Al is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades:  resourceful and highly creative, and he also has a steady hand. We also had design consultation from local artist Linda Reeves, who chose a fresh but soft color pallette.

There was lots of back and forth about how to make the sign, and what kind of paint to use, but we eventually agreed on good old latex house paint, a decision I hope we won’t regret.

After a few years of winter winds and summer sun we’ll know if we made the right decision or should have gone with one of those stick-on vinyl signs that modern sign guys make. In the meantime downtown Davis, WV will benefit from the beauty of our colorful and charming hand-made sign.

Apples and Cranberries and Pears…Oh My!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Ripe cranberries growing near Davis, Wv

Cottongrass grows in bogs, and often near cranberries

Fall in Davis, WV this year is more fruitful that I ever remember. For whatever reason — the heavy spring rains, the lack of late frost– the fruit is simply everywhere.

In the bogs on the edge of town extending all the way to Dolly Sods are millions (yes!) of plump red cranberries. They’re often found near cottongrass, and they grow low to the ground, which makes for a back-aching harvest. If you plan to pick, bring a small bucket to sit on and wear your waterproof shoes as cranberries are found in spongy wet places.

Ripe red apples near Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

As for apples, they can be found along the sides of the roads, in and out of town, and just about anywhere humans have ever been. Many of them are poor quality volunteers — suitable mostly for cider. But some of them are wonderful, and you can only know by biting into one. Unfortunately, most are simply wasted, piling up in alleys and yards, or collected to feed the deer. The abundance is astounding, and the waste a little shameful.

Heavy Pears Ripening in September in Canaan

 

I discovered a few amazing pear trees this year, and some awesome cherries. Often these trees are zapped by the frost in late spring, which limits their fruit. But this year, when the mild days came, the blossoms stayed, and we are basking in the abundance of what was produced.

Last Leaves of Fall in Davis, WV

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Quaking Aspen beside the river in Davis, WV

Fall in Davis, WV is almost over, at least the leaf show is gone. The few leaves that remain now are the copper-colored beeches and a few stands of quaking Aspen.

Aspen is common on top of the mountain between Davis and Canaan Valley. When the wind blows, and leaves quiver, they make a wonderfully soft sound, sometimes it’s all you hear on a summer hike. In the fall the leaves turn brilliant yellow, and now in late October they’re about the only color left.

Every season is beautiful in the West Virginia mountains. Now that the trees are bare, and we see the contour of the land again, we remember how much we missed the view. But come May, when the leaves appear again, we’ll rejoice at that, too, and go off in search of morels.

The beauty of these mountains exerts a powerful pull, even when the leaves are mostly gone and the only color is what’s left on a small stand of Aspen shivering in the wind.

Bright Morning’s Garden Makeover

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Herb garden in full bloom before makeover

Garden transformation in process

Ken at work

The herb and flower gardens at the Bright Morning Inn have been delighting our guests for years. Partly it’s the climate. Davis, WV, the highest incorporated town in the state, is known for it’s cool summer temperatures, and flowers love it. We’re also a wet spot, as the clouds moving east dump their moisture on the Allegheneys as they head toward the Shenandoah Valley.

So cool temps and lots of rain mean flowers bloom their heads off, which is great for the Inn. We love picking huge bouquets, starting with peonies and lupine in the spring, and moving through the daisy-like flowers of summer: the shastas, coneflowers, rudbeckias, etc.

Most people who view the inn’s gardens think they’re fantastic, but what they don’t know is how much MORE fabulous they could be, if they were properly organized and edited.

Enter Ken Morgolius, a cross country skier, vintage bicycle enthusiast, and, oh, yes, landscape architect from Charlottesville. For whatever personal reasons, Ken volunteered (yes, volunteered — for free!) to renovate the Inn’s gardens and help them achieve their full potential.

The process started last summer, when he pulled out mounds of sage (beautiful flowering sage!!), dug out the thick mats of daylilies, liriope and shastas (yes, those, the ones with the big pure white flowers!) and threw them in a compost heap. Then he moved a few things around and left. Needless to say, tongues were wagging in town, as the Inn’s garden seemed positively…raped…and the owner of the Inn (me) didn’t seem to care!

The truth is, I trust him, and know that whatever he starts he will finish in the best possible way. This fall he came back, with a Subaru full of plants, and went to work. Most of the new plants he brought aren’t the usual ones, many are unknown to me. And the usual ones, well, he brought the unusual varieties, like the green (yes, lime green!) coneflowers. And there are whimsical touches, like now there’s a strawberry groundcover growing around the rhubarb (berries for picking, right here in the herb bed!). He put the new plants in, mulched them carefully and took off for home, with hardly time for a thankyou.

I’m still not sure where this garden is headed, but it is fascinating to watch such an artist at work. Next summer, when the rain comes, and the plants wake up and stretch to the sky, we will think about all that Ken has done. And when we pick our extraordinary bouquets we’ll realize how ho-hum the old garden really really was, and how lucky we are to have had him.

Welcome Leaf Peepers

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Fall comes early in our beautiful Potomac Highlands region, with peak color at the highest points arriving late September and early October. In Davis fall foilage coincides with our annual Leaf Peeper’s festival, Sept. 24-25. The three day event is packed with activities including bird walks, a fireman’s parade, craft shows, a Blackwater Canyon bike ride, a 25K charity run, and an Oktoberfest featuring beer, music and food…and much, much more. Visit the link above for a full schedule or go to www.canaanvalley.org.  It could be chilly, so bring a jacket and rain gear as early fall weather can be brisk in our high mountains.Whatever the temperature, fall in our mountains is spectacular. Don’t miss it!



»