Posts Tagged ‘davis wv’

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

Stumped by the Skunks in Davis, WV

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Two young skunks playing in the park in Davis, WV

Beautiful young white skunk grubbing for insects in my backyard

You’d think that creatures this adorable would be more than welcome in downtown Davis, WV, home to wildlife lovers, hunters and hikers of every persuasion. But these guys are creating not a stir, but a stink. They are part of a band of four young skunks that have taken up residence in the brush along our Riverfront Park.

As wildlife goes, these skunks are picture perfect. Two are all white with black faces and paws, the others classically marked with black and white stripes. They’re fluffy and playful and fun to watch as they grub in the dirt or slurp water from puddles in the alley. The problem is they are doing all of this smack in the middle of a park, and our town’s popular dog-walking grounds at that!

Several local dogs have been skunked so far, so the word’s gotten out quickly among the dog walkers. But yesterday, one showed up on the sidewalk in front of Hellbenders Burritos, right across from Blackwater Bikes, and prime tourist grounds.

There’s something wonderful about watching these playful young skunks from the safe vantage point on my back deck. They remind us we’re sitting at the edge of a magnificent forest filled with wild animals –even when they’re as fluffy and adorable as these!

Majestic Wind Turbines Near Thomas, WV

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

The ridge just north of Thomas, WV, which we call Backbone Mountain, has been lined with Wind Turbines for nearly ten years. They’re a bone of contention for some, who question their adverse affect on wildlife, in this case the many varieties of bats who soar the night skies zapping insects. It’s a serious issue, as bats are endangered on many fronts.

But for purely visual spectacle, the turbines themselves are awe inspiring. Bold, white, quietly slicing through the sky, they are more beautiful than most public sculpture, and much more useful.

The electricity these turbines generate goes into the grid and is sold to people in the cities who want to do good and think that buying wind power, even if it costs more, is a good thing.

I’m still conflicted about the issue. I love the turbines, but am awfully fond of the bats, too. Let’s hope the clever scientists who invented these things will get with the biologists and devise a way to lessen the impact on wildlife. In the meantime I will continue to send guests who visit the Inn  up the road to photograph and marvel at the power of human engineering.

Forty four wind turbines line the ridges of Backbone Mountain near Thomas WV

Apple Blossom Time in Davis, WV

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

It’s hard to believe that Davis, WV was once a boomtown, with nearly 5000 people and two streets lined with stores. It was a prosperous and busy place filled with boardinghouses, like the Bright Morning Inn, a fine hotel or two, a tannery and lumbermill and, of course, a railroad running right along the Blackwater River.

Nowadays it’s mostly gone…the town has dwindled to around 500 residents and there are just a handful of shops and restaurants, mostly catering to tourists. But we do have remnants of those good ol’ days– lots and lots of old apples trees. Sometimes I think Davis is an apple orchard pretending it’s a town, they’re that ubiquitous. And now, in early May, they are in glorious pinky white bloom.

The old railway bed along the new Riverfront Park is lined with apple trees, and they’re in nearly every yard. And if you north drive to Thomas, or south to Canaan Valley you’re struck by the beautiful display.

Apples aren’t gathered and treasured the way they used to be, when Davis residents needed apples for pies and sauces.  Now you’ll mostly see them strewn across the roads or alleys, rotting on the ground, an offering to deer and other critters.

But in early May, when in their blooming glory, they remind us of how rich this funny little mountain town really is, and how giving these trees have been to us these many years.

Blooming apples in Davis, WV: Remembrance of Things Past



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