About Me

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I am a mother, a teacher, and a nature lover. I grew up on a mountain we called Owls' Knob in the Ozarks of Arkansas. The first seven years of my life were spent living in a log cabin, far from a store or streetlight, without electricity or running water and after twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live on a hill by a small lake and work at a public garden. These are stories about nature written from a women deeply influenced by place.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Food and Water

   The garden at Owl's Knob, which has been neglected, is still producing kale. The leafy vegetable doesn't mind a light freeze and can almost grow year round. Though it's leaves will become skeletal in summer as Japanese beetles feast on them, they regain their composure in fall and leaf out again. It is an easy crop to grow in sun or partial shade and it doesn't mind a drought or heavy rain. I would say that kale is the ultimate apocalypse vegetable!
    But how do you eat it? Though I like snacking on its leaves raw or adding baby leaves to a salad, not everyone likes the strong flavor. Kale is great steamed along with other sweeter vegetables like squash or carrot. But my favorite way to cook kale is to saute it with soy sauce and oil or butter. This can be done in a stir-fry or by itself. Either way, it is important to not burn the kale leaves. To prevent burning you can add a splash of water, wine, or soy sauce. Keep the vegetables steaming more then frying.

The well at Owl's Knob, in which the water is 100 feet underground, is not functioning. Either the 12 volt pump is clogged, or the water table dropped. But the system is not working. However, the spring in the holler is still flowing. All throughout my life I have been drinking from this spring. At ONSC I ask children if water coming straight out of the ground, spring water, is clean. They always say no. When I tell them that the typical backpacking water filter uses clay to filter river-water, they are puzzled. But only then do they accept that the water, filtered by the clay in the ground, might be clean.
    Deep in a gully there is a mossy spring, shaded by maiden-hair ferns and old magnolia trees. The water comes trickling out of the bedrock, flowing over a slab of limestone and dropping into a sink hole that leads to Terrapin Creek, a tributary to the headwaters of the Buffalo river.
    To retrieve water from the trickle that hugs the bedrock, you must take a leaf and a rock. The leaf is placed in the stream of water with its steam hanging just over the bedrock's ledge. Then the rock is placed on top of the leaf to keep it in place. Thus, a spout is created, and the trickle of water, seeping over the stones, is launched into my jug.
Patiently, I wait for the gallon to fill.
It is like waiting for kale to grow.
Slowly but surely, nature provides.


  1. The essentials!!! I've been wondering how to prepare Kale other than eating it raw. Thanks for the tip. :-)

    We have a local spring too. One thing to always be sure to let your students know is that they should be familiar with where they are collecting it. In some cases, like our local spring, the spring feeds into a little creek. Some people might at first assume the creek is clean since it's being fed by the spring, but in our case this is not true because of pollution up stream that runs into the same creek. However, the water can be safely collected directly where the spring comes out of the bedrock, like in your picture. The leaf and rock are great tips. Thanks!

  2. Don't worry Sarah, I always go into great depth with my students about water quality, the water shed, and the water cycle.

  3. A correction: I have been informed that limestone does not exist but in a few unverified pockets at high elevations in the Boston Mountains of the Ozarks. Therefore, the spring is likely in a type of very fine silt-like standstone. But I might need to research it more.