About Me

My photo
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. After twenty years of travel, I returned to the abondoned homestead. Now I live and work in the Ozarks and visit the mountain often. These are stories about the Ozark Wilderness written from a women deeply influenced by this special place.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Gifts


This morning I woke extra early. I did not set an alarm and rise to wrap materialistic gifts or stuff sugary treats into oversized socks. This morning I had gifts to give that could only be received before dawn by gentle and understanding hands... I woke this morning to milk a goat.

Personally, I do not own any goats; however, I hope to in the coming years. This Christmas I have been farm sitting. Two of my friends and neighbors are out of town for the holidays while I am having Christmas here at home and will be feeding 9 adults and 2 kids this afternoon out of my kitchen. Because I am here, and they are there, it seemed natural for me to help tend to the animals.

On my street, right here in Fayetteville, is a woman who owns a flock of ducks headed by a bossy goose, three white rabbits, and three pigmy goats. This past Thanksgiving, I helped take care of the newest goat, Junebug, who was born just days before the holiday on which the owner traveled to see family. My job was not only to feed and check the water in the afternoon, but also to play with and cuddle a sweet three day old baby goat! After the goat sitting, I have told the owner of the goats that I am happy to help with farm chores. So when Christmas rolled around and the mother goat needed to be milked daily, I said yes. So on three mornings during this holiday season, I have rose out of bed before dawn and milked the goat. Since she is new a being milked and I am fairly new at milking, it takes me an hour to tend to the daily duties.

The other farm I am sitting is a short drive out of town. It has not required 6AM milking times, instead, I have driven out to the country cottage on the hill to feed goats, chicken, dogs, and cats. I also let the dogs out in the morning and put them up on these bitterly cold nights. Though it is not as difficult a task, it requires me to get in my car and drive, where as the other neighbor lives across the street.

Today, after waking and dressing, I walked across the street and went up to the front door to see a woman sitting at the kitchen table typing on her computer in the dark. The neighbor had told me that she had arranged for a B&B costumer to stay in the spare room for the holiday, so I wasn't surprised but just thrown off a little. I tapped on the door lightly and after explaining why I was there, the woman let me in. She was a kind and stayed out of my way as I went about my duties. Upon leaving and wishing her a Merry Christmas, she said to me, "You are such a good friend to be doing this! And so early in the morning on Christmas day too!" I thanked her but felt strange about the remark.

I left with the notion of being a good friend...But after thinking about it, I realized that friendship actually has nothing to do with it! Though they are my friends, that really is not what motivates me. There are some goodies involved: milk, eggs, and even a surprise card with a little cash in it, but I am not doing it for some minimal amount of food or money either. I got to use a hot tub at one of the houses last night, and though it was enjoyable, that is not why a did it. I am not even doing it to boost my ego. I have not been posting my good deeds on Facebook and I am not writing this in hopes that people stroke me with their comments. No. So why I am waking up at 6 am and driving out of town to tend animals on, of all busy crazy times, Christmas time?
I am giving my services this Christmas straight from the Christmas spirit. I am giving these gifts, because there is hardship and pain and cruelty everywhere you look in this world and if I can bring some kindness, generosity, and servitude to my neighbors, I will do it any chance I can get. Because if everyone, every day, did the same, the world would be a better place. Because I hope to inspire you to do the same! And perhaps you have heard this message before, and perhaps tending goats seems trivial, but we do what we can and we take from it what we may. So give a little today and every day!
 Happy Holidays!




And the sunrise wasn't bad either!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Deadline Extension

The Women in Nature series has extended its deadline. Please share this link with all the female nature writers you know:

 http://www.louisegracepublishing.com/women-in-nature.html

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:
Picture
 

From wilderness living to urban gardening, we want your personal stories that reflect a transforming or transcending connection to ‘nature’.  We are looking for stories that can open our perspectives conceptually, or ‘show us how’ to do something experientially.  We’re talking about living with the earth, not on her.  How do women connect with nature, and the reciprocal and essential relationship with the earth and all that is in it?

Guidelines:
  1. Your story must be true.
  2. Your story should be told in first person
  3. Good quality writing is as essential to your story, as is your story.
  4. Your story should relate to a personal experience that then translates into insight, advice, creative ideas, or transcending awareness!
  5. Your (funny, somber, endearing, emotional or otherwise) story should be between 750 – 2000 words
  6. If your story is chosen, you will be given author exposure, as well as varied options for compensation including copies of the book, discounts, (and other monetary and non-monetary rewards to be further specified.)
  7. We are currently accepting stories from women (as this is a women’s anthology) from ages 18 and on…. however, we are open to stories from men... about women.


Submissions should include: Your story and a brief (50 word) author bio, and include your email address.


SUBMIT TO SPECIFIC WIN BOOKS AS FOLLOWS:

FOOD The objective of the WIN - Women in Nature on Food book, is to generate an awareness of the food we eat, where it comes from, and how what we eat affects all life on this planet.
We are looking for your true stories about food, particularly stories that celebrate sustainable and organic food and food sources as they relate to our natural environment.  We also welcome stories that reflect the emotional relationship humans have with food, as well as stories that encourage an awareness of connection.
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON FOOD TO    carly.womeninnature@gmail.com     DEADLINE for submissions 1 December 2014


ADVENTURE
The objective of the WIN - Women in Nature on Adventure book is to encourage awareness, respect and intimacy as we seek out adventure.  We are looking for your true stories about your adventures in, and more significantly ‘with’, nature.  Adventures – hiking, climbing, deep sea diving, dog sledding, kayaking, spelunking, wilderness research, horseback riding, swimming, mountaineering, skiing, surfing – can unfortunately sometimes become an activity of disregard and disrespect.  We are looking for experiences that celebrate and appreciate the beauty and awe of the natural environment - and instill an intimacy and awareness of reciprocity - while experiencing all of the challenges, adventures, and inspiration nature has to offer!
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON ADVENTURE TO    carol.womeninnature@yahoo.com      DEADLINE for submissions 1 November 2014


CHILDREN
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Children book is to encourage the engagement of children with the natural environment, and to nurture an understanding of their existential and intimate relationship with all living things. We are looking for your true stories about children and their relationship with nature. We welcome stories about your childhood experiences in nature, as well as stories about getting children into nature, and your experiences observing children in nature. All stories should move beyond children merely playing an activity outdoors and should focus on the interaction with nature.
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON CHILDREN TO    roslyn.womeninnature@gmail.com       DEADLINE for submissions 1 November 2014


HEALING

The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Healing book is to encourage an understanding of our reciprocal relationship with the nature, and how the health of the earth and our own health are intimately intertwined.  We are looking for your true stories about healing, both the healing of nature and how nature heals us.  This includes both physical and emotional healing through anything from plants and animals, to the healing power of simply being in nature’s bliss.

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON HEALING TO    carol.womeninnature@yahoo.com        DEADLINE for submissions 1 January 2014


GENERAL - For stories that do not fit into any of the above categories, please submit through our standard contact form below.
And, watch for more WIN titles and varying submission deadlines.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Frog Ecosystem


In July a Southern Grey Tree frog fell from the oak tree onto our deck. She was a beautiful frog with a color and pattern similar to the textured of the oak tree she lived on. My husband picked her up gingerly and placed her back onto a limb where her camouflaged skin blended into the bark.
Two days later, we found baby tadpoles in the kids kiddie pool! Usually, once the pool gets full of algae and mosquito larva, I drain it into the garden. On this particular week, I had neglected to drain it. The next week I peeked over the edge of the kiddie pool to see how bad the mosquito problem had become to find tadpoles! Hundreds of them! I was unintentionally starting an aquatic ecosystem in my back yard.
As more of the eggs hatched, I began to see a wide variety of tadpoles. Perhaps from different parents or eggs laid at different times. Every time I looked, there were more, until they clung in a solid ring around the edge of the pool. It was obvious that not all the tadpoles could survive in the kiddie pool. There wasn't enough food or space for some many.
So I posted a "free to a good home" ad on Facebook. The responses were enthusiastic and friends dropped by with buckets to take tadpoles home to their own ponds. My aunt and uncle not only took a bucketful away, but they also brought plants and scummy water thick with green algae so that the little guys who stayed behind would have something to eat.
It certainly occurred to me that transplanting the tree frog might disrupt the delicate balance of nature in someone's backyard. But after researching this little amphibian and learning that they are endangered, I decided it was more likely an asset to any given ecosystem than a hindrance. Amphibians are delicate bio indicators. When their habitat is polluted, they are the first to die off. I dare say that the world could use more southern grey tree frogs.
Other insects, including mosquitos laid eggs in the pool as well. But the tadpoles ate the mosquito larva. By august we had all decide that the frogs were in fact keeping the mosquito population small. These little amphibians and us had created a mutualistic symbiotic relationship.
At first my son was disappointed that he pool was no longer the fun place to splash in. But after I gave him a net and let him carefully catch and release the tadpoles, he decided it would fun to have them around and watch them grow!
Now it is September, and we are seeing lots of changes happening. Some of the tadpoles have grown legs and officially become pollywogs. Some pollywogs have hopped up the side of the blue plastic pool as young frogs. Because my free range chickens are always pecking and scratching around the pool, I scooped up a baby tree frog yesterday and airlifted him to safety on a branch where its camouflage made it obvious that he was home.
Eventually the pool needs to become a kiddie pool again. But I have decided we need a water feature, a small pond for our amphibian friends.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Lakeside



"Water in there?" my son asked while examining the end of the hose. He had been watering the garden and playing with the hose for a while. Now he was looking down the dark hole at the end of the hose, wondering how so much water was stored in such a small space. His language skills were still underdeveloped but I knew what he was asking.
"The water comes through there," I said. "The water comes from a big lake. It comes through long pipes to our house and then through the hose. But it is really all in a big lake."
"Lake?"
"Yes."
"Where?"
"Way over by Rogers and Eureka Springs," I said pointing in the general direction of the lake. My son still looked puzzled. "We will go see it some day."
"Let's go," he said enthusiastically and he began walking in the direction I had pointed, barefoot and determined.
"Honey, we can't go now! It is almost dinnertime and you don't even have your shoes on."
He looked down at his feet, obviously wondering where his shoe had gone and said, "I'm not hungry."
I walked over to him and gave him a hug. "We will go see the lake soon, not right now, but soon."
A few days later we drove to a small beach on the south west corner of the lake. The sky was blue, the water clear, and the breeze warm.
As we sat on the beach and prepared to swim, I explained how the water traveled through pipes and got cleaned before traveling to our house so we could water the garden. He gazed out across the expanse of water.
"What over there," he pointed to the other side of the lake where a dock and a small house, perhaps a shed, stood.
"Oh I don't know, people live over there I guess."
"Let's go," he chanted eagerly starting for the water with his life jacket on.
Yes, he is an curious and determined boy!
We did not cross the great expanse of water. Instead we watched a flock of Canadian geese land on the water and float slowly by. The button bushes were blooming all around us along the shoreline and their globular flowers attracted various pollinating insects like honey bees, bumble bees, swallowtail butterflies and even a monarch.
By the end of the day we were all sun kissed and exhausted from swimming. Nevertheless, the next day we couldn't say no when a friend offered to take us sailing! I had only been on a sail boat once before, a catamaran when I was very young, and my husband had always been itching to try his hand at sailing. So we packed up early and drove to the Beaver Lake sailing club.
Again we took to the water. Letting the wind carry us out quickly. Then we had to climb against the wind to get back to the dock, the task kept everyone busy. My husband and the captain of the ship pulled on ropes all day. I was completely occupied with keeping the children happy. Not an easy task for two boys so young and quick to loose interest in a tiny space trapped on a vast template of water. Still, I dare say it is an experience my older son will never forget and I am sure the little guy learned something new.
Now after two days exploring the waters of Beaver Lake, perhaps my son knows where his water comes from. For knowing where your water originates is important information indeed!








Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Call For Submissions!

I am the editor and co-creator of a Women in Nature anthology.
At the Louise Grace Publishing Company we are calling for true nature stories by women for our Women in Nature series.  
 
Submission Guidelines:
 
From wilderness living to urban gardening we want your personal stories that reflect a transforming or transcending connection to ‘nature’.  We are looking for stories that can open our perspectives conceptually, or ‘show us how’ to do something experientially.  We’re talking about living with the earth, not on her.  How do women connect with nature, and the reciprocal and essential relationship with the earth and all that is in it?

Guidelines:
  1. Your story must be true.
  2. Your story should be told in first person
  3. Good quality writing is as essential to your story, as is your story.
  4. Your story should relate to a personal experience that then translates into insight, advice, creative ideas, or transcending awareness!
  5. Your (funny, somber, endearing, emotional or otherwise) story should be between 750 – 2000 words
  6. If your story is chosen, you will be given author exposure, as well as varied options for compensation including copies of the book, discounts, (and other monetary and non-monetary rewards to be further specified.)
  7. We are currently accepting stories from women (as this is a women’s anthology) from ages 18 and on…. however, we are open to stories from men... about women.


Submissions should include: Your story and a brief (50 word) author bio..


SUBMIT TO SPECIFIC WIN BOOKS AS FOLLOWS:

FOOD The objective of the WIN - Women in Nature on Food book, is to generate an awareness of the food we eat, where it comes from, and how what we eat affects all life on this planet.
We are looking for your true stories about food, particularly stories that celebrate sustainable and organic food and food sources as they relate to our natural environment.  We also welcome stories that reflect the emotional relationship humans have with food, as well as stories that encourage an awareness of connection.
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON FOOD TO    carly.womeninnature@gmail.com     DEADLINE for submissions 1 September 2014


ADVENTURE
The objective of the WIN - Women in Nature on Adventure book is to encourage awareness, respect and intimacy as we seek out adventure.  We are looking for your true stories about your adventures in, and more significantly ‘with’, nature.  Adventures – hiking, climbing, deep sea diving, dog sledding, kayaking, spelunking, wilderness research, horseback riding, swimming, mountaineering, skiing, surfing – can unfortunately sometimes become an activity of disregard and disrespect.  We are looking for experiences that celebrate and appreciate the beauty and awe of the natural environment - and instill an intimacy and awareness of reciprocity - while experiencing all of the challenges, adventures, and inspiration nature has to offer!
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON ADVENTURE TO    carol.womeninnature@yahoo.com      DEADLINE for submissions 1 September 201


CHILDREN
The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Children book is to encourage the engagement of children with the natural environment, and to nurture an understanding of their existential and intimate relationship with all living things. We are looking for your true stories about children and their relationship with nature. We welcome stories about your childhood experiences in nature, as well as stories about getting children into nature, and your experiences observing children in nature. All stories should move beyond children merely playing an activity outdoors and should focus on the interaction with nature,.
SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON CHILDREN TO    roslyn.womeninnature@gmail.com       DEADLINE for submissions 1 September 2014


HEALING

The objective of the WIN – Women in Nature on Healing book is to encourage an understanding of our reciprocal relationship with the nature, and how the health of the earth and our own health are intimately intertwined.  We are looking for your true stories about healing, both the healing of nature and how nature heals us.  This includes both physical and emotional healing through anything from plants and animals, to the healing power of simply being in nature’s bliss.

SUBMIT YOUR STORIES ON HEALING TO    carol.womeninnature@yahoo.com        DEADLINE for submissions 1 October 2014


GENERAL - For stories that do not fit into any of the above categories, please submit through the  standard Louise Grace contact form HERE!
 
 Visit the Louise Grace Website for more information.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Playing in the Rain

Yesterday I gardened in the rain. I planted some mid summer beets and carrots, impartial to whether or not they decide to germinate in the heat of July. A friend gave me a variety of white strawberry plants which I also transplanted in the muddy soil, loosened by the rain. I had been dreading trying to dig into the hardened clay to create a this new, but much needed, garden bed for these plants so desperate for the security of the earth. So when the rain started, I knew this was my chance. The rain would help me dig.
Meanwhile, my oldest son wandered through the wet yard, stomping in the mud, kicking at the droplet ladened clovers, and trudging through the tall grass that is going to seed. He walked in circles for an hour without an agenda or plan. I feel this wandering was important. Too often we forget to just take some time to do nothing.
By the end of our time outside we were soaked to the bone, our rain coats had been swamped by the pounding water. As we walked back to the house I noticed a particularly juicy looking cucumber hanging over the fence. My son picked it from the vine and asked if he could please eat it. Of course I said yes.
Watching my boy walk back to the house with mud on his boots, rain soaked hair, devouring a cucumber fresh from the vine, I feel hopeful, elated.
Later, after the rain stopped, we all went out to play in the mud: the baby, the boy, and I. The woman in me who has to clean the house tried not to think of all the laundry I would have to do later or the muddy floor I'd be mopping. It was less important than the lessons lying in the mud. Messy outdoor romping is good for the young souls of children. My boys stomped in the muck, mushed clay between their fingers, and gently, playfully threw mud into each other's hair. Smiles graced their faces and their eyes glowed with wonder. Watching them delight in the soft squish of clay and earth, I realize that these are the moments that make a childhood shimmer.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Creating Balance

Leaf Hopper-Pest
 
Balance is everything in a garden.


Praying Mantis-beneficial predator
When I first tilled and planted at my new house there were only pests in the garden, and not enough predator insects. The second year I struggled with every type of pest imaginable form aphids to squash bugs. I saw a few ladybugs and a praying mantis but the balance had not found an equilibrium. However this year, I am seeing the balance unfold. Now I am finding lace wings and hover flies, loads of lady bugs and beneficial insects all over the garden. Sure I have plenty of pests too, but the predatory insects are keeping the pests in check. There is balance and the plants are thriving.

I believe in sharing a little food with the wild creatures. I don't mind feeding a few pests. After all they are just trying to survive on this earth. A lost fruit, some damaged leaves, and a devoured brassica is not going to break my garden. I am willing to make some small sacrifices. Nevertheless, there have been times in which the squash bugs were too many and the aphids were too thick for the plants to survive. And such desperate times called for desperate measures.

Squash Bug Nymphs-Pest
More than once I have used a soapy water solution. It is a very easy to make natural insecticide. I use seventh generation soap, so not to contaminate my garden with too many unwanted chemicals. I mix up a few table spoons of soap into a two gallon garden sprayer. It is a pressurized sprayer so I can pump it up and then just let a nice continuous spray mist the infected plant's leaves. Most pesky insects hang out on the underside of the leaves. So this pressurized spray is nice because you can angle the nozzle in such a way that you are hitting the underside of the leaves. Soapy water dehydrates insects the same way it dehydrates your hands. It pulls moister out of them so quickly that they die within a minute or two of being sprayed. Such an insecticide does not pick and choose though. It kills the ladybugs as quickly as the aphids. Therefore, I have ONLY used this treatment when my plants were too infected to possibly survive.

Tomato Horn Worm-Pest
This year I have not used the soap water at all. There were a lot of aphids on my tomatoes one day and I squashed thousands of them by simply wiping each leaf with my thumb. They are soft bodied and easy to kill this way. You can usually find aphids on the bottom sides of the leaves directly above the damaged leaves. They start at the bottom of the plant and move up. A single healthy tomato plant can survive with a hundred aphids on it as long as some predator insects are eating them off effectively. Just because you see an aphid does not mean you need to run to an insecticide. Especially if there are some lacewings and ladybugs around.

Squashing insects can be a little gross. But crushing their eggs is an easier task to stomach. Pest eggs are almost always on the bottom sides of the leaves. Most eggs that you find on a leaf where laid there because that leaf is the larva's food. Why else would the parent insects lay the egg there? One of the easiest ways to deal with squash bugs is to look for their tiny brown egg clusters on the undersides of the squash leaves. Similarly, caterpillars eggs, like the cabbage whites, are easily destroyed. These eggs are little cream colored cones. But even if you don't know the individual insects eggs, if there are clusters of eggs on the undersides of your leaves, those insects are probably there because they want to eat that leaf.

Lady bug Nymph-beneficial predator  
Another important part to establishing harmony in the garden is planting flowers. You might think that flowers are just for show, but many types of flowers repel pests or even more importantly attract beneficial insects, including predatory insects. Depending on what you want to attract or repel will determine what flowers you want. In my garden I have hyssop, milkweed, and yarrow for attracting butterflies, bees, hover flies and other insects. I also have marigolds and nasturtiums for repelling bugs like aphids.
 
More than anything, spend a lot of time in your garden. Listen to the plants, watch how they grow, thrive, and even die. No garden is the best it will be the first year. Gardens, like the plants within them, grow and mature.



Bumble Bee on Anise Hyssop-beneficial pollinator

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Heaping Baskets



Three years ago, while working in the garden on a lovely March afternoon, my husband said to me, "I want HEAPING baskets of vegetables."

It seemed like a reasonable request and a easy goal. But that first year, we only procured a single basket of vegetables in the entire season. And it wasn't heaping!

Gardening is extremely hard work. It is tedious, strenuous, and constant. Every plant needs special treatment. Every season has its own set of chores. And every garden bed has its own pests.

It is not as simple as throwing some seeds on the soil and adding water. And it wasn't until after that first year that I realized how much I had to learn. Though my mother had always had a garden, and I knew more than the average person about gardening, if the goal was to actually feed ourselves and have "heaping baskets of vegetables," I had a lot of work to do.


Every year, I have grown more food than the last. In fact, last year I brought a few heaping baskets into the kitchen. This year I have been bringing a heaping basket or two into the kitchen every week! It is very rewarding. I will share some tips soon...


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Website

I recently developed a website. I feel like it is time. I have two short stories published so I guess I can call myself an author, a published author!
I have plenty of written material that could be published if I just found the right publisher. Therefore, I need to get my name out there more... Oh and my name, that had been another debate. I am very attached to my Imrie heritage. But I am married and have two boys, so I am an Eaton now. Though it has been really hard, I am in the process of changing my name to Roslyn Grace Imrie Eaton.
Please check out my new website at: http://roslyneaton.com
Any feedback is very much appreciated! Thank you!
Do you have a website? Please post a link in the comments below so I can go check it out!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Garden is Alive

This is such a busy time of year. Life is budding, blooming, and growing. Get outside and enjoy it! What do you have growing in your garden?










Friday, May 9, 2014

Women in Nature: An Anthology

The book "Women in Nature" is an anthology filled with nonfictional short stories by women from all over the United States. I am one of those women and my story "Felling a Friend" is in this book! If you would like to purchase a book you can do so on Amazon or by following this link:
http://www.louisegracepublishing.com/women-in-nature.html

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dogwood Flowers

 
Photo taken by Mattie Speece Villines
 
     This year the dogwoods are stunning! Go out and witness the beauty for yourself because a 8 mega pixel shot on a screen will not come close to doing the forest justice. Not every year is as remarkable as the next. Every plant has good and bad years depending on circumstances such as weather and disease. In the past, the dogwoods as well as the rest of the forest, has had its share of dramatic sagas.
     When my parents first arrived at Owls' Knob in the early 80s, the property was covered with dogwoods. In springtime it looked like snow was falling as those white flowers opened. As a child, one of my best friends was an old dogwood tree I called the Horsey tree. Like many dogwoods, the Horsy tree had four trunks growing from the same base and branching off close to the ground in opposing directions. Each trunk grew out on an angle, parallel with the ground at some point before shooting up to the sky. To me the four trunks looked just like a horse, a phoenix, a serpent, and Falkor, the luck dragon from The Never Ending Story. I played out many fantasy games in the Horsy tree.
     In the early 90s a fungus began creeping through the Ozark forests. It was the dogwood anthracnose fungus and it killed its victims quickly and silently. At first it was just a dead dogwood here or there along the road. But I began noticing the dying trees on Owls ' Knob in 1996. I left Owls Knob for many years and when I returned in 2006 dogwoods lay dead all over the property. I walked out to the place where the Horsey tree stood and found its four trunks splayed out in a cross. To most people it was nothing more than some hunks of decaying wood in the forest, but to me it was a grave site. I picked a bouquet of dandelions and left them there. That spring, and for many springs afterwards, the snowy effect just wasn't the same.
     In February of 2009 the Ozarks experienced an epic ice storm. It wiped out power everywhere, blew transforms up all over town, and took out so many trees and tree limbs that it looked like God came out of the clouds with a whim-wham or weed eater to trim the forest. At the time, thought I gawked at the destruction, I didn't realized the a lasting impact it would have on the forests. Not only did it knock out entire groves, but it weakened the trees that survived. Nearly every tree had some broken limbs and many were missing significant portions of their canopy. After the ice storm, many trees became sick or infected with borers and have since died. My beloved oak tree died as well. The one that stood beside the house and gave our western windows shade in the summer. The tree I hung a swing from. I swung that tree all year. The death of the oak tree hit me harder than any other. We turned her stump into a chair and when I sit in it, I think of her and the ice storm that led to her death.
      Five years after the ice storm you can still see where the ice hit hardest because the forest is completely different in those areas. There are gullies that were hit hard, huge trees lay dead over entire hillsides. There are deep forests were the canopy, which was once shading the undergrowth, is now open and exposed to the summer sunlight. Today those forests are completely different, where once huge old growth oaks, hickories, and walnuts stood, are now filling with understory growth like sumac, red buds, and (yes I have finally found my way back) dogwoods.
      Nature has its mysterious ways. I pained seeing the dogwoods die and I pained seeing the oaks die. Each of those tragic events hit me as hard as loosing a friend. At the time I wanted to scream, "Why?" But I now see why. I recognize the need for an ebb and flow of life. There is a give and take that is necessary. Though it seemed tragic at the time, the death was an opening for new life. Nothing stays barren when it is dead in nature. Death equals new life, every time.
 This year we shall morn the death of many a great oaks, but we can rejoice in the beauty of many a young flowering dogwood.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mother Nature's Tax


My neighbor had warned me a few days ago that the fox was on the prowl. She said it had eaten all  but one of her chickens. "I had gotten lazy," she had told me. "We have a secure hen house, I just didn't lock them up that night. I guess I forgot."
I took it as a warning and locked up my coop. But only for that first night, when the warning was fresh in my mind. We had gotten lazy too.
Last night, the fox, visited the chicken coop. This morning I woke before dawn. I think the barking dog brought me out of my dream. Then I heard the sound of a chicken bawking in dismay. I bounded out of bed and rushed outside barefoot in my tank top and pajama pants. I found only two chickens in our hen house. I looked around the yard... there were feathers everywhere!
I heard bawking and followed the sound. In the moonlight I saw something slip away and then noticed a chicken. It was one of our little red hens inside the garden fence. Perhaps it had struggled and flown inside. At that point maybe the fox figured digging under the fence was too much work. He too had become lazy. I picked up the terrified hen. She seemed in tact, missing a few feathers perhaps.
I put her back into the safety of the hen house. Only three chickens left!
I realized then that my bare feet were so cold! In fact, that I could feel ice on the frosty ground. I ran back inside.
Soon I heard noises again from the hen house and I let the dog back outside. The dog barked for an hour and kept the animal away.
At dawn I went out to survey the damage. I intended to tell my son exactly what had happened to the chickens but I did not want him to see a mangled half dead bird or torn apart chicken carcass. I figured he was a little young and sensitive for that just yet.
To my surprise, when I stepped outside, three more chickens greeted me. Apparently they had retreated to the trees and survived the night!
Miraculously only one chicken had been eaten, Rosie, the cream colored one with a speckled head.


RIP Rosie
Reflecting upon the "fox attack" I feel fortunate that we only lost one hen. I feel responsible for not protecting her better but I learned a valuable lesson. The hen house will be closed up every night from now on; the fox can be sure of that.
But I also keep thinking of the fox. I heard her last year, calling for her mate in springtime. She may be pregnant right now and trying to fatten up her unborn pups. I imagine her sneeking into our yard one black socked feet. I see the glimmer in her eyes and the delight in her pounce when she knows she will eat well tonight. She is not greedy. She takes just one.
It is Mother Nature's tax. We all must pay our dues. I would rather pay Mother Nature than the government. I would rather feed the fox than fund the war. So, on this eve of tax day deadline, I will  pay Mother Nature her tax. It is a sacrifice I am willing to make. But until another year, the chickens we stay locked up tight at night.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More Good News!

As I wrote in my last post, I have been making a push to get published. I made a New Years resolution to get published and already I will see my work in print in only a little over a month!
Yesterday I recieved another email from a small journal called Full Circle Journal. They are going to be publishing a short story I wrote called Spaceship Earth in conjunction with an art sculpture my sister created. Though it is not a big deal, and kinda just fell into my lap because of my sister's art, I am feeling inspired! Is this the year my writing career is going to being moving forward?
With this in mind I am developing a webpage. It will be at roslyneaton.com. But right now it is still under construction, so stay tuned.
I am also taking my husband's name, eaton, at last. Not only do I want my family to be untied under one name, but I feel like Eaton is easier to spell and therefore a better name for a writer who wants to be found. Becoming Roslyn Eaton is a change of identity for me. I think it will be a positive one.
Do you have a website? Please share! I am interested to see how other personal artists create their webpages!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Short Story will be Published!

     A short story I wrote entitle "Felling a Friend" has been accepted for publication in an anthology! The book will be a collection of short stories by women about nature. It is the first part of a series called WIN: Women in Nature. Because of the earth conscience material that makes up the stories, the publisher wants the paper that holds the stories to also be earth conscience. So it will be printed on eco-friendly wheat and straw paper. To get the printing wheels turning, the publisher has started a kickstart fund. If you pledge just $10 you will get an e-book, if you pledge $20 you will receive a copy of this book, and for $30 you get two copies of the book! So basically it is like buying the book in advance. The book will be printed in spring and is estimated to be shipped out to costumers in June. If you would like to see some of my writing in print and order a copy of the book in advance, click on the link below. And Thank You!!!
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/948518643/win-women-in-nature

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Moment

Yesterday I devoted the day to my kids. I turned off my phone and even left the camera behind, (because all those pictures are really for me, not of my boys.) I did not bring along my journal or even my purse. We went to the river with a picnic and met a friend with kids the same age as my own.
The sun was shimmering on the water. "It looks like snow," the children said.
The sunlight was reflecting on the blades of grass. "It looks like ice," I said.
We sat beside the Buffalo River on a moss topped cliff overlooking the water. We hiked a trail that followed the river. It stayed close to the cliff that rose high above the water and meandered through naked trees, evergreen groves, thickets of river cane, and moss covered rocks. We found a stream where the children could explore tiny waterfalls, swirling pools, and icy caves that were still untouched by the warm winter sun.
Yes it was a perfect day. But it is all so fleeting! The children were growing right before my eyes. The day was so short, the sun so brief. I had missed so much already while stressing out and being overly ambitious. On the drive home I remembered my last blog post, "How do you do it?" and suddenly felt ashamed. This morning I got up to erase it. Embarrassed with my rash, stressed out, over zealous outlook in the past few days.
But I have decided to keep the post. Because we are not perfect. So often we write about our successes. We post pictures on facebook that show us in all of our beauty. And we see each other in this light. But it is healthy to see that people have boring days, bad days, faults, and moments of weakness. It is good for us to not only write on our good days and not only write about the good times, but to also express our fears and faults. So my last post was me in a moment of overwhelming weakness. My fault is evident, I am too ambitious and forgetting to be in the moment! Today I feel strong and focused upon the beauty of the moment. Today I will just enjoy the day with my children while we will do nothing special and get very little done!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

How do you do it?

     A fellow writer and mother recently asked me, "How do you do it all?"
     All I could do was cry out, "But I don't do it all!"
     Oh yes, I try so very hard, and in some ways (sure) I succeed, but lately I feel like I am failing...
     Once I had a goal to write on this blog every week. I never managed to do that, even in the beginning. So my goal became to write every other week... Now I am content to maintain a monthly post.
     I started a new blog called A Simple Natural Home. I had hoped to fill it full of recipes for soaps and healthy muffins, cloth diapering tips and gardening advice. Today the blog contains only a few pages of material.
     Almost five years ago I started writing a historical fiction novel. People have praised me when I tell them that I am on page 78 of my first draft. But I just want to cry because it took me five years to push that out! And now I have another baby. And now my older son is having problems with authority. Will it take ten, maybe twenty, to complete?
     I was so determined to have a winter garden this year. But we got a foot of snow and it sat around for a week killing my broccoli plants. The plants I sat hunched over in autumn picking tiny caterpillars off of. I still have fruit trees to prune, a chicken coop to clean, and a fence to build. But I can't dig my way out of the dishes and laundry.
     The baby is constantly pooping again. Or chewing and trying to choke on some random scrap of paper he found on the floor. The older child is constantly climbing onto the desk to turn the TV screen on so he can watch Felix the Cat on Netflix. Or melting down because I said, "Not right now."
     I pour my all into my children. I am the mom who reads to their kids, who listens to their stories, and who plays as well as disciplines. I am constantly reading new about positive parenting and early childhood development. Embracing motherhood has become my art. It has replaced much of who I am as a person. And I know that is ok. In fact, I dare to say that is how it should be when you have young kids. Still, my children are so far from perfect. You would think I had it all figured out with all the research I have done, but they have behavior problems galore. We struggle.
      I set an alarm and woke up early this morning early. My intention was to get up and finish writing what I was too tried to write last night. But the baby was sleeping at my breast. I tried to get up so very carefully. I let him nurse until my milk let down again. It took three patient tries to get my breast out of his mouth without waking him. Then I eased him off and patted his back until he fell asleep again. Slowly I inched away from him, tucking the pre-warmed blankets around him to fill my void. I rose from the bed and stayed very still. Twice a resumed the lying position. Finally when I thought he was sound asleep a turned to the window and adjusted the blind so that the sun would not come streaming in and wake him. I did so silently. Nevertheless, when I turn back to my baby, his sleep eyes were open wide. I groaned. He smiled.
     How am I doing it all you ask?
     I am not doing it all! I am just trying very hard to juggle everything. Perhaps my problem is too much ambition. Maybe I need to kick back and relax more. So I try to take time to do nothing. Surely I would do better to do less.
      I truly hope that one day I will do better. Not more! But better!
     So... How do you do it? How do you do better?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Ambition

Last year I was five months pregnant on New Years, so my only New Years resolution was to have a kid! And I did it. I became a mother again, a mother of two. I had the home birth of my dreams and my sweet baby boy is just perfect. Still, this year has kicked my ass! It is much harder than I had imagined to be a mother of two. Adding another child to my life complicated everything. This has been a selfless year.  I have focused on my boys. It hasn't been a bad year, just a trying one.
In the coming year I am going to focus on myself a little more. In July I will turn 30 and for some reason I feel like it will be a different decade for me. As the year unfolds I want to focus on things that make me happy, like writing and nature. I want to chisel out more time for sitting alone in the woods with a pen and paper. Even if it is just for a few minutes in the backyard.
I also plan to make a major push towards publication. If you like Owls' Knob as a blog, then you will love my book: Owls' Knob: Tales of an Ozark Mountain. I wrote it years ago, while I finished up college, about the time I started writing this blog. But it just sits and gathers dust. I get inspired occasionally and submit a chapter as a short story to some random magazine, but never with much luck. I need to try to get published harder. I have been working on a website and I will get it up and running soon. I feel like this might be the year I get my first breakthrough. I think it is time. I hope I am ready!
So, regular readers, if you know or come across a magazine or publishing company that might appreciate the type of nature writing I often feature on this blog, please send me information or comment here. Thank you!
Happy New Year!