Thursday, March 22, 2012

Signs of Spring Redux - Snakes Awake

I must start off by saying that I lived most of my life with an irrational fear of snakes. I would have rather faced a charging, rabid grizzly bear than a couple of inch slithering garter snake. I was taught from little up to be afraid of them. My mother, who was a strong presence and in my child's mind afraid of absolutely nothing, was petrified of them. She screamed when she saw them. She couldn't stand to see them on tv and would leave the room if they came on one of the many nature shows we watched like "Wild Kingdom." She would even tape or staple the pages together of our Ranger Rick magazine if there happened to be a snake article - I have an incredibly vivid and amusing memory of that!

While not as extreme as my mom - I could watch them on tv, see them in books, look at them in the zoo or if a handler was showing a snake, I still shrieked and ran when I saw them in the wild. Tiny, little harmless snakes. I must say that surprised the heck out of my kids when they first saw that reaction out of me. They never see me scream or show fear like that. I tend not to be a person given to extremes and this was clearly an extreme.

My oldest, who must have been 6 years old at the time, tried to comfort me. With his hand patting me he said, "It's ok, mommy. It's just a little snake. He's really little. He's going away." Boy, does that make you feel silly! But proud too that you raised a compassionate human being who stepped up when he saw someone else needed strength and comfort.

I suspect it started that day, but in the years since I've come to kind of a truce with snakes. If we keep to our own spaces and there is no surprise appearances directly underfoot, I can get by. No more shrieking or running. I can even watch them in the wild, at a polite distance though!

This spring we figured out that garter snakes like to use an area at our place, which is one of the many old hand-dug wells on the property, for a winter denning spot. From what we saw, we guessed maybe a dozen snakes had been woken by our unusually warm early spring weather. My children loved the show the snakes put on. The slither this way or that around the old well. My youngest remarked that, "Nature is amazing!" She surely is.

I snapped a few pictures of our legless visitors. I share two below - saved for the last in case you too are like my mom and can't stand to even see pictures of them. Since snakes also have their place in the world, I hope you can find your truce with them as well.


The biggest of the garter snakes we saw - compare to the dandelion leaves
Some were more brown in color

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Directions from Arts Center to Medaille Formal Lounge

When entering in through the Arts Center main entrance, take the first flight of stairs you see.
From there, walk forward until you reach the Art Gallery sign and take a left.
Keep walking forward until the end of the corridor, then turn left and go down the corridor and leave through the door that leads outside.
Proceed forward until there is a split in the sidewalks, take a left (the middle path) not the sharp right and you should see a line of large buildings. These are the residence halls.
The first building that is closest to you should have a sign in the front indicating it is Medaille.
Go in the first entrance of Medaille and go up to the first floor.
Go through the doors and the Medaille formal lounge should be on your left.
The doors should be open during event time.

Community Read

Nazareth College will be presenting a community read revolving around the book To Become a Human Being.

Place: Medaille Formal Lounge on the Nazareth College Campus at
4245 East Ave  Rochester, NY 14618
Parking: Arts Center Parking Lot
Date: March 21, 2012
Time:7:00 to 8:30PM
What: We will be split up into small discussion groups of 8 and there will be refreshments as well. The directions from Arts Center to Medaille will be up soon and there will also be students that can help guide people to Medaille should they become lost.

We hope to see you there for the discussion of this great book!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Signs of Spring!

While some look for signs of spring in the plant world such as pussy willows and skunk cabbage blooms, others look to our feathered friends to harken the season.

Many look for the American Robin to return, but I find them to be poor weathermen. Too often I have seen them shivering in snowstorms! There are, however, birds that are much better predictors of the coming season. I personally I have seen Turkey Vultures in the past two weeks. They are migratory birds who return to this area each spring with much better accuracy than the robin.

Another sure harbinger of the impending spring is the Redwing Blackbird. The following picture was  submitted to us. It is of the first person to spot a redwing blackbird at Ganondagan. Very nice!!

If you have seen any signs of spring at Ganondagan that you wish to share, please send your photos to us at!


Redwing Blackbird spotted at Ganondagan

Monday, March 5, 2012

Botanical Medicine Certificate Program

Native Medicinal - Trillium grandiflorum
Our good friend, Dr. Les Moore, is offering another series of his Botanical Medicine Certificate Program courses. These classes are excellent if you wish to learn more about medicinal applications of plants. Some of the plants covered are native, wild medicine plants while others are from other places and traditions. 

 Please contact Classical Formulas for details and registration. See their website for more details.


Botanical Medicine Certificate Program - Medical Herbalism Part III

April 26, 2012 through May 24, 2012
(Previous students: NOTICE A START DATE CHANGE!)

Native medicinal - blackberry (Rubus sp.)
The Medical Herbalism classes is a three part series in the Botanical Medicine  Certificate program offered by Dr. Moore, ND, LAc.  These classes are offered at Clifton Springs Hospital through the Integrative Medicine department, The Botanical Medicine Institute, and Classical Formulas. Each series of classes have a similar format however, they will contain different and new information with shared teaching from Dr. Moore, Master Herbalists, and/or guest speakers. These classes are appropriate for health care providers, herbalists, and anyone interested in Herbal medicine.

Dr. Moore has an extensive background and education in the field of botany and Herbalism, both eastern and western.  Dr. Moore received a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine.

You may register for the whole series, or at the beginning of each class. If you choose to register per class, please give us advance notice so that we have enough materials made for you. Students may begin ANY series at ANY time with no prerequisite of a previous series - each series is an independent module.  Students completing all three of the series (Parts I, II & III) will receive a certificate upon attendance verification and program completion.  Class size is limited.
Chamomile blooms (Matricaria chamomilla)

COST: $120 for the series or $25 per class.

Contact: Classical Formulas for registration at 315-462-0190 by Friday, April 20, 2012.

PLEASE NOTE: All classes are held on Thursdays at Clifton Springs Hospital from 6:30-8:30 pm with the exception of the herb walk on Saturday May 5, 2012, which we be held at the Ontario Pathways Trail, Phelps, NY at 9:00am.

Keep watch for information about the Homeopathy program and a date for the Homeopathy program information session....

Medical Herbalism Part III - Course Descriptions

Yellow Dock Root (Rumex crispus)
Class 1 - Botanical Medicine/Single Herbs - April 26, 2012 
Learn about herbs to soothe gastrointestinal tract, nervous system, digestion, allergies and detoxification.

Class 2 - Herb Pairs/Drug Interaction and Adjunctive Cancer Therapy - May 3, 2012
This class will focus on paired herbs that are therapeutic for specific conditions. Information on interactions that can occur between medicines and herbs will also be discussed as well as herbal dosages for children.

Class 3 - Plant Identification/Herb Walk - May 5, 2012
This class will be a 3 hour walk to identify plants in the surroundings area. You will learn about their habitat, history and uses.  This class will meet at the Ontario County Pathways trail, Route 96, Phelps, NY.  Bring water and snack, dress for the weather and wear appropriate footwear.

Class 4 -  Herbal Therapeutics - May 10, 2012
Native Medicinal - Joe Pye Weed 
This class will focus on spring detoxification, diseases of toxicity, and Pancha Karma. Pancha Karma is detoxification and bio-purification from traditional Indian Medicine.

Class 5 - Herbal Medicine Making - May 17, 2012
Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.  Healthy eating, herbal teas as well as discussing wild crafting and tips on drying and storing herbs.

Class 6 -  Herbal Formulas and Modifications - May 24, 2012
Herbs used in herbal formulas can act synergistically and can be tailored for each unique individual, even as a person or environment changes. This class will consider how formulas can be used and altered to address specific changes.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Beautiful Blooms

An orchid at the Sonnenberg Orchid Show
Our friends at Sonnenberg are holding their annual orchid show this weekend. It starts today and goes through sunday. (Please see their website for times and details.) I visited their orchid show today - as I do every year. It's a treat for the eyes and soul to see the colorful and gay blooms when grey skies and the sleeping brown Earth is all we generally see at this time of the year.

While the orchids at the show mostly hail from various tropical locations, the orchid family is a very wide-ranging group and can be found on every continent save Antarctica. What may be surprising to most people reading this, is that orchids comprise the second largest plant family after asters with over 20,000 different species.

Did you also know there are wild orchids growing right here in NY State? Around 60 species of orchid are native to New York, though a third of them are rare to see since they are considered endangered or threatened. Unfortunately the orchids here are like many plants - they struggle to survive in their native ranges. Recently I ran across the following piece of information:

"At least one of every eight plant species in the world - and nearly one of three in the United States - is under threat of extinction, according to the first comprehensive worldwide assessment of plant endangerment." --- ”Plant Survey Reveals Many Species Threatened With Extinction,” NY Times, April 19, 1998

The native grass pink orchid (Zurich Bog)
One person who I shared the information with told me it was depressing. Depressing to be sure. But the truth none-the-less and not a truth we can hide from. We all have a hand in either being part of the problem or part of the solution. Please do whatever you can to preserve our natural, green spaces. Loss of habitat is one of the biggest causes of these extinctions. I know you, like myself, want the next seven generations to see not only orchids but all other plants and animals living and thriving rather than only being a picture in a dusty book!

I urge you to visit Sonnenberg this weekend. Celebrate the beauty and diversity of one of Mother Earth's gifts, the orchid. I hope the blooms lift your grey winter spirits as much as it did mine!!


More information on NY State Orchids:
"Orchids of New York" By Chuck Sheviak and Steve Young

"Native New York Orchids" (YouTube)

New York Flora Atlas - Orchids