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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mockingbird Love Song Serenade

Open windows and cool night breezes are part of the charm of summer. But nighttime sounds can go way beyond the chirp of crickets or tree frogs. Why in the world would birds sing at nighttime?

Should you be kept awake by the nonstop medley of a bird filling the long night hours with its ballad, it is most likely a mockingbird.

Before you let yourself even think about strangling that bird, find some interest and humor as to why it goes on and on and on.
The bird is a young male bachelor.
Imagine having a suitor trying to win you over by singing under your window!

Most birds learn the songs they'll ever sing before reaching a year old. But mockingbirds continue to listen and learn throughout their lifetime, copying the sounds of other birds. All mockingbirds sing during the day but only the male bachelors sing at night. Once that bird keeping you awake finds a mate, the singing will stop.

Rather than trying to block it out, focus on those repetitious songs and try to catch the recognizable sounds of other types of birds. You may be amazed how many different songs that bird knows. Though annoying at first, that "racket" just may lull you off to sleep after all, and once nature plays out and he finds a mate, you just may miss his nightly visits.

The law is on the side of these birds. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protects the mockingbird. It is against the law to harm or kill any type of migratory bird.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Song of the Elder Fairy

When the days have grown in length,
When the sun has greater power,
Shining in his noonday strength;
When the Elder Tree's in flower;
When each shady kind of place
By the stream and up the lane,
Shows its mass of creamy lace
Summer's really come again
"The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies"

One of nature's medicines is the wild elder (Sambucus species). A shrubby, unruly bush found among hedgerows, this small tree is lanky and not much to look at when not in bloom. Attempts to rid unkept landscapes of this shrub are often in vain as it easily resprouts even after a hard pruning.

However, every June this versatile herb is beautiful as it is covered with large, saucer-shaped off-white flowers. 

These flowers can be gathered and used as a food source such as flower fritters, a wash or toner to maintain clear skin, soothing skin care salves, a medicinal tea to clear congestion in the respiratory tract, relieve hay fever or aid in reducing fevers. Poultices for minor burns, wounds and swollen joints are made with mashed flowers wrapped in layers of cheesecloth. Elder flower water was once considered a valuable beauty aid among women to keep the face blemish and freckle free, as well as a great aid for sunburn.


The following vinegar spritz combines elderflowers and rose petals with raw apple cider vinegar to create a soothing sunburn relief body spray.
A variation in the recipe for the sunburn soothing spray and we have a wonderful ph balancing facial toner. Raw apple cider vinegar helps bring balance to troubled skin and helps with blemishes.

Elderflower & Rose Facial Toner

Sunburn Spritz

The use of elderflowers for a balm or salve is a win win from the delicate skin of baby bottoms to the fragile skin of the elderly. The flowers are rich in anti-oxidants and contain anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties that help keep the skin healthy. Below is a very soothing salve which combines elderflowers, calendula flowers and lavender buds, all safe and soothing for any age.

Baby Bottom Balm
In the late summer, the flowers have turned to dark blue berries often sought after for jam, wine and syrups. If you wait too long the bushes are soon stripped clean by the birds. Don't eat these right off the bush. The fresh berries can upset your stomach. Dry or cook the berries before eating them. If you do collect your own elderberries, make sure they are the dark blue or black ones and not the red berries. The red berries belong to S. racemosa which is toxic.

Elderberry Syrup

More information on Elderberry Syrup