“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wisconsin Gardening

My Wisconsin garden is spring green in May

 I’ve spent the past week relocating our household to our summer home in Polk County, Wisconsin that we call Northern Bliss. Sailors forever, Gunter and I must have the serenity of water close by. We enjoy the change of pace from our city life in San Diego. There is another lake every four miles in our county, so we never lack the color of water. But after eight years sailing around the world, we also crave the color green.

I agree with John Burroughs, who said, “I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.” While the green palette soothes my soul, the song of newly-arrived finches tickles my ears, the feel of warm soil running through my fingers connects me to the earth, and the heavenly scent of budding flowers brings me peace. I wet my lips and taste the freshness of the country breeze rustling through the treetops.

What happens to your body in the presence of green? Your pituitary gland is stimulated. Your muscles become more relaxed, and your blood histamine levels increase. That leads to a decrease in allergy symptoms and dilated blood vessels. In other words, green is calming and stress-relieving, yet invigorating at the same time. The color green has been shown to improve reading ability and creativity.

Aha! I’ve been gardening my first week here, exposed to all that green. Now that my creativity is back, I can get back to writing again. Before I continue the Uzbekistan travel series, I want to take you to my environment here. The days are getting longer. Sunrise was at 5:27 this morning and sunset will be at 8:48. On June 21, the summer solstice, first light will occur at 4:43 a.m. with sunrise at 5:21. Sunset will be at 9:02 with last light at 9:40. Plants love all that light so spring growth is intensive. I can almost see those ferns in my garden unfurling their delicate fronds.

Garden Ferns

Garden ferns unfurl as they mature

Did you know that fiddlehead greens are harvested as a vegetable? The fiddlehead fern fronds must still be tightly furled.

Martha Stewart even has a recipe for them! . Reportedly, they taste grassy (of course) but with a hint of nuttiness. Hmm. Many people say they taste like a cross between asparagus and young spinach. Some detect a bit of mushroom. Watch out for those if they’re growing nearby. Also keep this in mind: Fiddleheads can cause symptoms of food-borne illness if eaten raw or improperly cooked. Be careful.

Have a wonderful and inspiring spring!




Fiddler greens

Fiddler greens served as a restaurant delicacy

For related blogs, visit https://sailorstales.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/soft-focus/

and https://sailorstales.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/returning-to-northern-bliss-fifty-shades-of-green/

About the Author: Lois and Günter Hofmann lived their dream by having a 43-foot ocean-going catamaran built for them in the south of France and sailing around the world. Learn more about their travel adventures by reading this nautical adventure trilogy, now on sale at a reduced price for a limited time through Father’s Day.

“Of all the shade plantings, the woodland garden is the most forgiving and the one dearest to my heart.” ~Sydney Eddison

It’s been a hectic four weeks since my husband and I locked up our San Diego beach condo and relocated to Northern Bliss, our Wisconsin lake home. During that time, I’ve been busy with the usual spring house and garden chores. In addition, I installed a new Memorial Garden honoring my younger sister Ruth and hosted a garden memorial service attended by many siblings and cousins.

Now, on a rainy Saturday, I’m back to writing again. Organizing the Memorial forced me to arrive here earlier than usual (mid-May) and but it rewarded me with the miracle of spring in a northern climate. Some say that with abundant rain and sun, one can literally watch the plants grow! I thought this was an exaggeration but now I’m a believer. When I arrived, tulips were fading fast but ferns were just beginning to sprout. This is no ordinary feat you would observe after planting a packet of seeds. In the woodlands of Polk County Wisconsin, the unfolding of ferns resembles a mass uprising of an ancient plant dynasty. In unison, legions of tightly coiled fronds unfurl and rise through the dampness seeking the sun. They have been doing this for millions of years, before dinosaurs stalked the earth, so they have the routine down pat.

P1110744 Ferns

I sit and watch them march toward the sun, sensing the release of coiled energy. The fiddleheads take their name from the scroll at the end of a violin, and if you watch only one, you can sense the music. But if you’re in a forest of fiddleheads, the entire woodland floor shoots up around you with an explosion of cannons and fireworks. Check out this time lapse video, courtesy Learjet15, to see for yourself. 

Fiddler Ferns, also called Ostrich Ferns because they resemble the tail of a bird, not only bring a base of green to the forest floor; they are edible as well. The tightly-fisted fiddlehead contains anti-oxidants, fatty omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber. Several varieties contain toxins that are believed to cause cancer, however, so it’s best to steam for 10-12 minutes or boil for 15 minutes before eating.

I cherish and celebrate the budding flowers of spring, but how I love the ferns as a spiraling harbinger of the unfolding season.

About the Author: Lois and Günter Hofmann lived their dream by having a 43-foot ocean-going catamaran built for them in the south of France and sailing around the world. Learn more about their travel adventures by reading Lois’s award-winning nautical adventure trilogy. Read more about Lois and her adventures at her website and stay in touch with Lois by liking her Facebook page. Lois’s books can be purchased from PIP Productions on Amazon.