Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dogwoods - Its Legends and Winters

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

If you are a regular here to my blog or on my Facebook page, you know I enjoy the woods and the fields, the flowers and the trees, and the birds and the deer. And of course, dogs and people too. :) So Earth Day seems like a good time to think about those gifts of nature. 

This time of the year, the dogwood trees are bursting into bloom everywhere around here. And we are having that cold snap we seem to always have when the dogwood bloom. We've already had redbud winter, so now it's dogwood winter with a chance for frost tonight. More winters will come our way before spring warms completely into summer.  

I only have one sick dogwood in my yard (I think it's got some kind of blight) and no beautiful pink ones like the one here. I took a picture of this one beside a church in Versailles. The white blooms up top were on a tree in a hay field fence row. I'll have to go walk around that field again before the week is done to see if it's blooming now. 

But have you heard the Legend of the Dogwood?  On Monday I let Jocie on her Heart of Hollyhill blog tell the Legend of the Dogwood as told to her by her Mama Mae. I don't remember who first told me when I was a young teen that the rusty looking stains on the four petals of the dogwood represented the blood of Jesus, but I do remember studying the blooms and thinking about the symbolism. 

However, I had never heard the rest of the legend or read the poem that some think began the legend or perhaps was written by an unknown author because he or she was told the legend. According to the legend, the cross Jesus was crucified on was a dogwood tree that at that time grew tall and big like an oak tree. But the tree was so distraught at being used in the death of Jesus that Jesus had pity on it. He made it grow small and twisty so that it could never be used in such a way again and then marked its beautiful blooms with the nail prints and bloodstains. Even the center has the symbolism of being the crown of thorns. 

Click here to read one version of the legend. It doesn't have any Biblical basis. The dogwood is not mentioned in the Bible. The type of tree the cross was from is not named. But that doesn't keep the story or legend from making a person look at the blooms and think about Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. As the George Washington Carver up at the top of this post says, God speaks to us through nature all the time. We just have to tune in.

Had you ever heard the legend of the dogwood?

Do you have dogwood winters where you live?

As always, thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Name the Flower Game Winners

When the Redbuds Bloom

No new flower to name this week, but if it was, I'm sure you would all know this one. But when the redbuds bloom, you can know it's spring in Kentucky. And that you'll probably have a cool snap in the weather for Redbud Winter. But the Name the Flower game is over and the winners have been picked from my drawing hat. Well, actually by random number. Each guess you made got you a new number. It didn't matter if the guess was right or not.

Last Week's Flower - Bell Wort

There were some very imaginative names suggested for last week's flower. Melanie's suggestion of "Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley" for the flower made me smile. But "Cornhusker's Ghost" by Kate, "Umbrella Flower" by Lisa and "Weeping Bells" by Sharma were good too. Several of you suggested they were Snowdrops. But the name in my Kentucky Flower book is Bellwort. I did go check on-line and there were some interesting common names for the flower. "Merrybells" echoed Sharma's name but on the positive side. Other common names were Wild Oats, Strawbells, Mohawk Weed, Straw Lily, and Yellow Bellwort.

Wort is Latin meaning common, and my flower book says the bellwort is a common spring wildflower and the internet says it grows widely in a number of states. 

Bellwort was used for medical remedies by both Native Americans and early pioneers. Some of the uses were treatment of snakebites, to reduce swelling, and as a poultice for topical wounds and skin rashes. Concoctions of the plant were also used for canker sores and other mouth infections and to treat sore throats. You can read more about the bellwort here. That's where I got the information for the plant's medical uses.

And the Winners Are

Now that I made you wait through the flower lesson, drumroll please. Here are the three winners of the Name the Flower Game. Linda M., Danie W., and Kate H. I've sent all three of you a message at the e-mail address you left with your comments. As soon as I hear from you, I'll get your books in the mail.

Thank You All for Playing

I do appreciate all of you playing my Name the Flower game. You make my contests here so much fun. I'll be doing something else again soon. And for sure, I'll be sending out a newsletter contest in June to celebrate the release of The Innocent in July. 

But who knows? I might have something else out there before then just for fun. We do have Mother's Day coming out. As always, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

One Last Flower for the Name the Flower Giveaway

Name the Flower Game is Almost Over

All good things must come to an end, they say, and I suppose that goes for fun with wildflowers in a Name the Flower game too. This is the last wildflower for you to guess or to name to get an entry in the drawing for a couple of books. The winner's choice of one of my books and a grab bag book. 

Here are some of the choices. All great reads. I'll pick three winners on Sunday. So get your guesses in on the new flower or go back and name any of the other flowers from past posts if you haven't already done so. Each guess on a different flower gets you another entry to maybe win your choice of some of these books. 

A New Flower to Name

But back to flowers. The one up top is the one to name. I remember when I first found these down by the creek. I thought maybe there was something wrong with them since to my eye they looked a little wilted. But when I came home that day and searched through my flower book, I found a picture of the flower that looked exactly like the ones I'd seen. So do you recognize the new flower? If you don't, what would you call it if you got the privilege of naming the plant? 

Now What in the World was Last Week's Flower?

I picked some different flowers for you all to see and name in the last few weeks. Nobody who left a comment came up with the actual name of this little flower. A few of you gave it a tri-something name because of its cute little three petal like things. That sounds really scientific, doesn't it? 

It's Wild Ginger. My son asked me if it was really what ginger
came from and no, it's not. However, Native Americans and early settlers did harvest the root, dry it and grind it into a powder to use as a spice. Some settlers also cooked the root in sugar water for several days to get a ginger-flavored candied root and then used the leftover liquid as a syrup. But since then, scientists have found the plants may contain poisonous compounds, so they strongly advise against eating the root now. It was also used as a poultice on woods and has since been found to contain some antibiotic compounds. 

The flower has an unusual story of how it attracts small flies that come out of the ground in the early spring looking for carcasses of animals that didn't survive the winter. The flower is close to the ground where it is easy for the flies to find and the color of the flower is similar to decomposing flesh. It's unsure whether the flies pollinate the flowers, but the insects do crawl into the flowers to escape the chilly spring weather. That may be more that you wanted to know about Wild Ginger, but in case it's not, you can read even more about this interesting wildflower at a USDA Forest Service site here. That's where I found the information about the flower.

So Now It's Time to Name the New Flower

Your turn now to leave a comment about the new flower or about the old flower. All comments are welcome and if you also leave a way to be contacted (if you haven't previously left that information with a guess on an earlier Name the Flower post) then you'll get an entry in the giveaway. 

As always, thanks for reading and I hope you've enjoyed the Name the Flower game.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Can You Name that Flower?

 New Flower to Name

We're coming down to the homestretch on my Name the Flower contest. Some of you have guessed every post or almost every post and so got your name thrown in my giveaway hat numerous times. We'll see if that helps your luck next Sunday when I pick the three winners. But before that, you have time to guess on two more flowers. The one on this post and one on Wednesday's post to come. It's fun when you come up with the actual common name for the flower, but it's also fun when you don't know and make a stab at giving the flower a fitting name. 

Not sure whether you'll know this Sunday's flower or not. It's another in the unusual flower category the way squawroot was. This one looks more like a flower but sometimes you have to search for that bloom. So do you know its name or do you want to come up with your own name for it? Either way you can get a chance on winning one of my books and a grab bag book by a different author as well. An "I don't know" comment gets you an entry too. I picked out some possibilities for those other books you might win last week. All great books. 

Last Post's Flower

Several of you got last week's flower right and then some of you didn't. A few of you found a new name for it. The flower is a Bent Trillium. The bent part is what makes it so hard to get a good picture. The Bent Trilliums along my wildflower walking trail grow up on a cliff side, so that helps me point the camera under the leaves. Of course the steep cliffs don't make it too easy to get close to the flower to take a picture. 

Here's a white one that very obligingly forgot to bend its head the way it was supposed to and bloomed more on top the leaves than down under. The flower of this species usually nods beneath the leaves. My Kentucky flower book says most Bent Trilliums are white, but on my cliff the colors are about evenly mixed between white and the maroon color of last post's picture. Then there are a few that are about halfway between, a faded purplish white. The middle of the flower is always white. 

Time to Think Flower Names

So what do you think? Got a name? I hope you are enjoying sharing some of my favorite wildflowers. And if you leave any kind of comment here, that puts your name in the drawing for the book prizes. You must be 18 to enter and you need to leave some way to contact you should you be one of the three winners. Print books USA & Canada. E-book prizes international. Deadline for entries April 18 at midnight EST.

E-Book Deal for $1.99 or Less Still Going On

Angel Sister is on e-book sale this month. Here's one of the 100 plus reviews. "Didn't want to stop reading it.. very appropriate for every age and gender." You can take a reading visit to Rosey Corner and get to know my Merritt family for less that 2 bucks at your favorite e-book site. The book was featured today of BookBub that sends out a newsletter about free or low price books every day and that always boosts a book. Angel Sister is now number one in several categories of sales on Amazon. That's fun. Thanks to all of you who may have downloaded it to help it hit those number ones. 

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #381 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

As always thanks for dropping by. Name That Flower and get an entry in my giveaway. 

And if you're in the Bowling Green, Kentucky area, I'll be at the Southern Kentucky Book Fest on Saturday signing books and taking part in a panel on writing in the afternoon. Would love to see you there.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Another Flower to Name, Another Chance to Win

A new flower for my Name the Flower giveaway game

As I'm sure you've been able to tell the last couple of weeks, I really enjoy wildflowers and taking pictures of them. I used to have to consider each picture back when I used film cameras. But with digital cameras, I can go wild and take more and more pictures even if I know I've taken pictures of that same flower last year and the year before. I guess I think maybe this year's picture will be even better. And it's sort of like bringing the flowers home with me.

I've taken numerous pictures of this post's new flower. It's not an easy flower to capture. But it is lovely. I'm sure some of you will know what it is. You can name it the actual flower name or come up with a new name for it. Both are fun and either way will get you an entry into my giveaway. Each guess on a new flower gets you a new entry to maybe win a couple of books. 

The Big Reveal of Last Post's Flower

Nobody gave the flower book name for Sunday's flower, but some of you did come up with interesting and fitting names.  There was Nutty Buddy, Coral Pinecone, Seaweed, Pomegranate Fern, Underwater Fern, Seaweed, and more. 

The common name for this unusual flower is Squawroot. It's also called Cancerroot and is in the Broomrape family. Another name for it is Bear Cone. That sort of goes with the pine cone suggestion, doesn't it? But the Bear Cone name comes from the fact that bear, as well as other mammals, do eat the stalks and seeds and then spread the seeds in their feces.

Squawroot contains no chlorophyll and must obtain its nutrients as a parasitic plant. The plant attaches primarily to oak tree roots but rarely harms the host tree. The squawroot seedlings grow underground for approximately four years. I'm beginning to think I was fortunate to ever catch sight of this odd flower. After four years, it sends up its scaly, flowering stems. I don't remember noticing them having an odor when I found them but the information I found online said they produced a scent that fell somewhere between carrion and cabbage. 

The reason the flowers are called squawroot is their medicinal qualities. Native American women used them as a treatment for menopause symptoms. It was also used for bleeding in the bowel and uterus and for headaches. 

Besides being a folk medicine, squawroot can be consumed as a food. The above ground stalks may be eaten directly or dried to brew tea. Somehow with the way they said the plant smelled, I'm not getting a yearning for that tea.

Name the Flower Game

So now you can name the new flower and throw your name in my giveaway hat to win your choice of one of my books and another grab bag book. I'll pick three winners on April 19, so get your entries in by midnight April 18. More details on my Events page

E-Book Sale

Angel Sister continues to be on e-book sale for $1.99, but today only, Thursday (04-09-15), you can also download my first Heart of Hollyhill book, Scent of Lilacs, at your favorite e-book site for 99 cents or less. 
Barnes & Noble

As always, thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoyed the flower that didn't look that much like a flower. This week's flower is definitely a flower.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Flower #4 to Guess or Name - Some Flowers are Just Different

What would you name this?
 Are you tired of flowers yet? I hope not, but in case you were thinking all flowers look alike, here's a new one for you to name that definitely doesn't fit the pretty flower in a vase image. Of course, most wildflowers are meant to decorate the woods and hillsides and don't fare too well picked for bouquets on the table. Before Mom died, I did pick some of the most plentiful varieties to take to Mom so she could enjoy the blooms she always liked seeing when she was still able to hike to the area where our wildflowers grow. But it's a long walk from there back to my house and I was fortunate to make it with most of the petals still intact. 

So what would you call our new flower this week? You might know it's actual name or if you don't or even if you do, what would you name it if you were the first to see this flower? Or would you even know it was a flower?

Last Week's Flower

Purple Phacelia
Here's another photo of last week's flower. One person named it correctly when she saw it on my Facebook page. It's a purple phacelia. It's a widespread wild flower here in KY and frequent in woods and especially in deep leafmold on rocky slopes and ledges. Exactly the kind of place where I found the flowers and took these photos. In last week's picture the flower is growing out between the rocks of a ledge. 

Wild Geranium
Several of you called it wild geranium and I must admit that's what I've always thought it was. But then I searched my flower book to be sure I had the right name for this Name the Flower contest and took note of the leaves. That's when I found the correct name. There are also wild geranium on my hills and ledges, but the leaves are not the same and the blooms don't have as much of a noticeable white center or as long stamens. Leaves are always a big help in identifying wildflowers and in locating them too. 

Name the Flower

So now you can name the flower and have a new entry in my Name the Flower Contest. I'm picking three winners on April 19, 2015 and those winners will get their choice of one of my books and a grab bag book of another Christian author. Not big prizes but sometimes the fun is in playing the game.

Hoping you had a happy and blessed Easter weekend. I can't wait to see what imaginative name some of you will surely come up with for the name of this post's unusual looking flower.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Flower a Day Keeps the Winter Wearies Away

A New Flower to Name

Are you ready for another flower? I've been searching through my flower book hoping I can find the right name for this one. I may have to make up a name myself, but I think I have it narrowed down. When identifying flowers, sometimes the pictures in the flower books vary a little from my pictures, but what doesn't vary as much are the leaves. 

More than you might want to know about Jack in the Pulpit

But back to last post's flower. Many of you were right on with the name of it. Jack in the Pulpit or Indian Turnip. Ever since I was a kid, I've admired these interesting flowers. I think the name caught my fancy too, although a couple of you came up with an interesting name of your own, calling it a cobra. I'm sort of glad whoever first named the flower had maybe just come from church (one that didn't handle snakes!) and gave it a friendlier name. However, the cobra name fits when you look at the flower. Most of the ones in my area have the purple flowers but we have some of these green ones too. 

So far, I have never found the red berries in the fall, but I'm still hoping that I will someday. The flowers are a little hard to spot in the spring as they blend in with the surrounding colors, but I've learned to look for the leaf first. For some reason, I can see it before the flower. And now after reading about the flower I'll know if I'm looking at a Jack in the Pulpit or a Jill in the Pulpit by how many leaves it has. One leaf usually means a male flower, thus Jack. Of course, when these flowers were named back however many, many years ago, nobody probably thought about Jills in a pulpit. Unless you were a Shaker and then you didn't think about a pulpit because that wasn't part of a Shaker meetinghouse. It would have gotten in the way of the worship dances. If you want to know more about the Jack in the Pulpit and how it grows, here's a neat blog post from Hilton Pond Center.

Angel Sister E-Book on Sale in April

For those of you who might have an e-book reader or who have downloaded the Kindle app on your iPad or computer and haven't totally filled it up with books to read, my first Rosey Corner book, Angel Sister, is on sale for $1.99 or less this month. This book is one that's close to my heart since it has so many of my mom's memories threaded throughout the setting of the story. Plus, this cover makes me smile every time I see it. Love Lorena on the front and her face as she looks up at Kate, her "angel sister." I also smile every time I get a message from a reader telling me they've taken a trip to Rosey Corner and enjoyed the visit. So now, if you haven't taken that trip, you can "get a ticket" for a couple of bucks. Here are some links.
Barnes & Noble

Looking Forward to Your Flower Names

Remember, each time you name a new flower (or leave any kind of comment), you get a new entry in the drawing for a couple of books. If this is your first time to enter, be sure to leave a way to contact you in case you're one of the three lucky winners. The contest is open to those over 18. Print books for USA or Canadian winners, but if you're an international winner, you win an e-book version. Deadline is April 18, 2015 at midnight EST.