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Friday, May 1, 2015

The People and the Forest -- Spring Is Here by Jae Hall

Cat, Blackie and Kamisha
May is here and that means five birthdays in my family.
So starting today May 1, Happy Birthday to Carl, Scout, Venice, Migel, and Frank. I know we'll be celebrating on the ranch with cake and maybe a pizza or bbq.

The forest provides a wide variety of foods and medicines, so it's time to gather even more plants for future use.

I was going to spotlight chaparral, but due to my camera dying, I haven't taken enough good photos. Also the toxic bloom is raising cane with my allergies. I'll save that special herb and it's uses for later in the summer so this  blog is about a variety of spring topics, and of course plants.

I've been out gathering  and it's always fun to take the family out and learn something new. A plant we call Princess Pine has been used in our family for many generations. The tea can be used for arthritis and kidney illnesses. Always use caution and test for allergies.
Hunter picking Princess Pine

Great Grandma Betty and Scout 
Hunter and Scout
Princess Pine

Dogwood Tree
A tree that has beautiful blossoms in the spring is our wild Dogwood tree. This year due to a very mild winter, lack of water and impending drought, our Dogwood is blooming early.

Pussy Ears

We generally take a day drive up into the mountains at the end of May to gather Dogwood blossoms along with other wild flowers. We use them to decorate our family graves for Memorial Day. This year everything is blooming 4-6 weeks early so our flower supply will be limited.
Here are a few of our annual flowers that are currently blooming in the northern California  forests.

Mule Ear Daisy
Siskiyou Lewisia
Miners Lettuce

Copper and blooming Chaparral

Red Bells

 Spring Colds and flu have hit many hard around here.

Young Western Red Cedar
Mature Western Red Cedar

Cold and flu season has depleted my supply of  Western Red Cedar.

Cedar is our go to for chest congestion and respiratory illnesses. Always remember to identify plants correctly before using. We only use the Western Red Cedar. Other varieties may have similar or different properties and uses.

These photos are of  young Western Red Cedar and a mature tree.

I gather the green foliage and dry for a tea. We use it in place of, or in conjunction with, commercially produced flu remedies.
I gather the berries for decorations and jewelry. Again. know your plants and if possible go out with someone knowledgeable.

After 30+ years,  I'm still not used to the idea that my husband no longer fells timber and there will be no summer long camp-outs in the forest. The time I've spent living in the deep forest and taking pictures of trees and plants has contributed to the background information in many of my stories. Spending weeks away from modern conveniences is at the top of my fun list.

Some of my photos of my husband cutting down danger trees near roadways and tourists camps have become a part of on my book covers.

My children are also in the forest/logging industry and work to keep the forest healthy as our family has done for countless generations.

At the end of the day we all give thanks that we are able to spend our life out in nature passing down generations of knowledge and skills, enjoying good company, and watching the sun set on yet another great day in the northern California forest. It's our Shasta tradition.
Jae Hall lives in far Northern California with her husband, the Shasta tribal Chief, family, cats, dogs and over a dozen horses. She is the co-author of Arcadia Publishing history books Western Siskiyou, Gold and Dreams, and Shasta Nation. Through PRP is the novel TimberBeast and she has Indie published the second book in her TimberBeast series, DutchMan.
More fiction and non-fiction books are coming soon.


  1. I love your blog.
    I look forward to reading about the forest.

    A piece of my heart has always belonged to the forest and mountains. You give me joy reading about your workd.

    Keep it going. I learn much.

  2. Thank you Taabia. Glad to share some of my forest adventures with you.

  3. Jae, I always love reading these blogs of yours. I would LOVE to know the medicinal uses for all the plants/trees out there! You have such a vast knowledge of that, and I am sure that has come in plenty handy through the years. Have you thought of writing a book with these remedies and passing it down to others?

    1. Thank you Cheryl. A plant book is somewhere on the horizon.
      I have a lot of notes and stories but I still need to do more research.
      This blog is helping me pick and choose as I go.

  4. Jae, I loved all your pictures and the great information about uses for all these plants. I also liked the picture of your horse, Copper. I'm going to save this information just in case I need it for a story.
    I can't imagine camping out for the entire summer. I would have to be young again for that.
    I also want to wish you great success with your books, Timber Beast and Dutchman.
    All good things to your corner of the universe.

    1. Thank you Sarah. My years spent in logging camps and horse packing in the wilderness areas have given me precious memories and experiences.
      My horses are dear to me and next to writing, my personal passion.
      Copper may become my next 'super horse'. With her natural talent and some intense training she will be my next bridleless parade horse.
      Kamisha (the blue roan) is her grandmother and Cat (black and white) is her 1/2 brother. Both are exceptional horses and at 26 Kamisha can still out perform much younger horses.

  5. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and pictures with us!

    1. Thank you Diana. I love sharing information and photos.