Golden fall days of West Virginia wildflowers

Just because fall strolled through the door doesn’t mean the growing season in West Virginia woods has ended. Leaves are drifting lazily down from a few trees here and there. Mornings are cool. The sun’s rays are slanting in lower than before. But still the fields and roadsides are still popping with wildflower color. AugustContinue reading “Golden fall days of West Virginia wildflowers”

Spring, Easter & keeping on

It’s so easy to look at the new growth of spring and think about Easter’s message of resurrection. Everything that’s blooming right now — the trees budding, leaves opening, flowers reaching up through the soil — was built to come back to life. All of these plants are designed to flourish themselves… to grow atContinue reading “Spring, Easter & keeping on”

Written on the snow

People who’ve spent a lifetime roaming the outdoors can see things that other folks would walk right past, unawares. They know how to read broken twigs, bare spots on a tree trunk, animal droppings and even how a pile of leaves is disturbed, as clues to critter movements and behavior. The rest of us, evenContinue reading “Written on the snow”

High Rock: Little hike for a big view

One of my go-to hikes in our area is a very moderate walk south along the top of Sleepy Creek Mountain toward a spot called High Rock. You get a lot of view from this short-ish out and back hike (4 miles). The destination has towering rocks, and a manageable ledge that affords a sweepingContinue reading “High Rock: Little hike for a big view”

A poke of purple in the woods

Clusters of dark purple berries stand out in West Virginia woods as trees and shrubs are losing their summer green, and the oranges and reds of fall start creeping in. In a dry spell, pokeweed’s bright red stems and berries are a real stand out in fields and at the edge of forest openings andContinue reading “A poke of purple in the woods”

Catch the WV mountain laurel bloom on the Ziler loop trail at Cacapon State Park

Mountain laurel is blooming right now in our part of West Virginia — in the part we call the Eastern Panhandle. Morgan County has its share of mountains, which means lots of places to look at this wild flowering shrub as its blooms open up. This week I’ve been on laurel patrol in Morgan County.Continue reading “Catch the WV mountain laurel bloom on the Ziler loop trail at Cacapon State Park”

Two out of three ain’t bad: more about spring in the West Virginia woods

Like I said before, spring in West Virginia zooms at the speed of sunlight. Take a week’s break from the woods and there’s a whole other type of tree or wildflowers blooming when you go back. Open winter views are now closed up by a glowing green curtain of new buds and leaves. In aContinue reading “Two out of three ain’t bad: more about spring in the West Virginia woods”

West Virginia wildflowers: Good luck keeping up

Spring in the Mountain State comes on strong. We jump from a grey and brown forest floor to carpets of wildflowers in no time flat. The past few days have delivered summer-like temperatures and powerful sunshine, revving up the spring cycle. It’s here, whether you’re ready for it or not. Nothing to do but plugContinue reading “West Virginia wildflowers: Good luck keeping up”

That tell-tale smell: Getting to know the Sweet Birch

This is weird, I thought, as I stood in a grove of uniform trees on top of Sleepy Creek Mountain. I was five miles from any blacktop road, sort of following a jeep trail that traces the top of the mountain. All around me, tall slender trees reached upwards. It was unlike other places onContinue reading “That tell-tale smell: Getting to know the Sweet Birch”

The mystery of the broken dishes: how a half-empty West Virginia lake reveals some local history

I didn’t know much about Tygart Lake State Park near Grafton, W.Va. when I made reservations to take our family there for a February weekend. Truth is, I had it confused with Prickett’s Fort State Park (20+ miles away), where an 18th century firearms show was being held. I grabbed a lodge room at TygartContinue reading “The mystery of the broken dishes: how a half-empty West Virginia lake reveals some local history”