Archive for the ‘Davis’ Category

Mid April Morels: Musings From a Town in Transition

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
Fresh morels found under an ancient apple tree in downtown Davis

Fresh morels found under an ancient apple tree in downtown Davis

This morning I was shocked to find a small band of morel mushrooms, right by the alley, underneath an ancient apple tree. Tonight they will be added to pasta, along with fresh ramps foraged from a nearby hillside.

I’ve never found morels when actually looking for them…they always appear unexpectedly. It’s a great life lesson that nature teaches us daily here in the mountains: wait, and keep your eyes open, and see what good things come your way when you least expect them.

Early spring in Canaan Valley and the towns of Davis and Thomas begins drearily. And then, suddenly, spring happens. Today the delicate serviceberry are popping up on the edges of the towns. In a few weeks the apples will be blooming…and they are everywhere.

These towns have been growing apples since the beginning. They were an important food source for the lumbermen and later for the coal miners. They fed whole families with apples; particular varieties for pies or sauce or butter and others just for eating. In those days our towns numbered nearly 2000 each. Today we’re lucky to have 600 people living in Davis, about the same in Thomas, and more houses are vacant every year. Like so many other places, as the elderly die off their children and grandchildren take root in distant states. 

Still, it’s a great place to live if you can figure out how to make a living. And it’s surprising the number of young entrepreneurs and artists who have come here and have done just that. They’ve opened shops and restaurants, started a Montessori school, and created a vibrant young art scene in Thomas. But we need more: people who can move here and join a few hearty telecommuters who find the no traffic, no stoplights, no fast food lifestyle appealing. Liking snow helps, and loving the outdoors is essential. But the key is to bring your job with you.

The morels I found this morning popped up under an ancient apple from the days when Davis was booming and there was plenty of work. I hope that someday I will look up unexpectedly and find Davis booming again, in a good way, a thoughtful way, a way that respects nature and nurtures people too.

 

Late Summer Wildflowers at Blackwater Falls

Monday, August 29th, 2016

gential-up-close

There is a wonderful plant that blooms this time of year throughout Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls. It’s my favorite: the magnificent Closed bottle gentian or Gentiana andrewsii. It offers a rich true blue that contrasts beautifully with the blond grasses of late summer.

This photo was taken on the trail that leads from Blackwater Falls State Park to Davis, on the south side of the Blackwater River. About a mile long, the trail allows easy access from town to the park, either on bike or foot.

The trail boasts a few nice bogs complete with cranberries and cotton grass, a beautiful little bridge over a small run that feeds into the river, and lots of cool shade in summer. It’s a great little trail for dog walking on a hot day.

But for me the best part is the gentian. It shows up in late summer, our driest season, when days are warm and evenings turning cool. It signals summer is ending and, once again, we are marching toward winter.

Closed bottle gentian in Blackwater Falls State Park

Closed bottle gentian in Blackwater Falls State Park

Natural Air-conditioning Gets an Upgrade

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
New AC system installed this week for those not quite so cool nights

New AC system installed this week for those not quite so cool nights

 

It isn’t what we wanted. And if we’re lucky it won’t be used that much. But the Bright Morning Inn has finally accepted reality and installed air conditioning in our bedrooms. Ugh.

Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls have long been known for their cool summers. In truth, there’s only a handful of nights when you really need it. But when you do, we’re all going to sleep easier knowing it’s available. And in this day and age, with ever present social media, it’s important to head off potential complaints whenever you can.

The units are easily controlled mini-split systems that will allow for both cooling and extra heating in winter. It’s a quiet system, too, and may help those extra light sleepers who don’t like to sleep with the windows open.

It’s the end of an era. A bit bittersweet. But the next hot spell we’ll all be grateful we’ve made the switch.

 

 

Cobbler Season: Bumper Blackberry Crop Ahead!

Saturday, June 20th, 2015
blackberry shrub

Thick sprays of blackberry blossoms in early June. They’re everywhere!

Last year's blackberries were good for picking in July and August

Last year’s blackberries were good for picking in July and August

Picking blackberries each summer is one of the simple pleasures of living in Davis, WV. For many of us, walking dogs on the edge of town means checking out the progress of the amazing blackberries that grow here in such abundance. In early June, roads and trails are positively lined with blackberry stalks, each thick with blossoms. In July and August, when the berries ripen, mounds of bear scat appear on the trails. Bear love berries, and eat tons of them, but there are still plenty left for human picking.
This year’s crop appears bigger than usual, if that’s possible. An old timer once told me that as a child he and his cousin picked 98 GALLONS of blackberries one summer, for his uncle, who made wine.
I make cobbler, using a simple crust recipe from Mimi Kibler of La Fontaine Bakery. It was her mother’s. It’s perfect with ice cream and makes a nice supper (or breakfast) if you’re too tired to cook. It’s these simple pleasures that we appreciate living here on the edge of the great outdoors.

Blackberry Cobbler

Filling:

5 cups blackberries
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar

Crust:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix berries with cornstarch and sugar, add to 9” baking dish.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add egg to dry mixture and barely stir to combine. (Using fingers works best)
Sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit.
Drizzle with melted butter.
Sprinkle top with dash of cinnamon.
Bake 45 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

ArtSpring 2015 Promises Fun in West Virginia Memorial Day Weekend

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Tucker County West Virginia hosts its fourth annual ArtSpring weekend on Memorial Day weekend this year, with art, food, music and fun throughout Davis, Thomas and Canaan Valley.
The weekend’s activities begin Friday May 22nd and continue through Sunday May 24th. A schedule of events can be found at www.artspringwv.com or by visiting www.facebook.com/ArtSpringWV
The weekend features activities for every age and interest. There will be fine art demonstrations, caricature artists, street musicians, photography walks, mushroom walks (led by Chip Chase), food and craft vendors, and much much more. The event was created by local artists to highlight the area’s growing art and cultural scene, which, when added to its outdoor recreation venues, creates a vacation opportunity the whole family can enjoy.
So bring the kids. Bring the dog. Bring sunblock…and a jacket. It’s spring in the mountains…anything is possible!



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