Delectable Roses

One of the highlights of the Ethnobotany Apprenticeship program is gathering rose petals in the spring to make jelly, infused honey and hydrosol.



Keeping with the “everything seems to be early this year” theme, this week was the peak time in our area to harvest lush, fragrant roses.


After gathering, students brought the roses back to the Earthwalk kitchen to prepare rose petal jelly.


The abundance of rose petals allowed us to add more petals than the recipe originally called for – making the jelly even more vibrant and flavorful.  What an amazing shade of pink!


We ended up having enough petals for a double batch of jelly in addition to rose hydrosol. Oh, and enough for sampling with toasted baguettes and butter to make sure it tasted as wonderful as it smelled.  (It was even better!)



Delectable Roses

Survival Tips: Weather Conditions

With the Pacific Northwest’s unseasonably warm weather continuing, it’s easy to forget that weather conditions can change quickly – turning a fun outdoor experience into a true survival situation.  Learning to read the weather is a crucial wilderness skill that could mean the difference between life and death.  Here are a few of my tips about different weather conditions you might encounter in your outdoor travels.

  • WIND: Cools our body and pulls away heat faster than we can produce it.  Cover all exposed body parts, put on adequate clothing, and find shelter so wind chill is not a factor.
  • RAIN: Cold and wet conditions cause extreme body heat loss.  Keep as dry as possible, avoid wet clothing, and keep firewood dry.  Seek shelter.  Remember, wool or equivalent-type clothing will keep you warm even when wet, and the layering system will create dead air space to retain warmth.
  • BLIZZARD AND WHITE-OUT CONDITIONS: Cold, body heat loss, mental stress, and fear make mobility a problem.  Do not travel; instead seek shelter and remain until the storm passes or the weather clears.
  • FOG or DARKNESS: Leads to loss of mobility, mental stress and fear, and inability to tell direction.  Do not travel; instead seek shelter and wait until morning or clearing.
  • DESERT SUN: Overheating in our body core leads to dehydration, blindness, and sunburn.  Find shade and shelter from the sun, travel early or late in the day to miss the heat, conserve as much energy as possible and stay hydrated.
  • LIGHTNING: Get off of high, exposed areas immediately.  Stay away from lone trees or tall isolated objects, open fields, rocky overhangs, cave mouths, and metal fences or railings.  Try to get into a building, closed vehicle, or forest with many trees the same height.  Try to be as small as possible and squat on a mattress pad or something dry and insulated from the ground.  If you are in a group spread out, don’t bunch up.

Be aware and respectful of the ever-changing conditions, and be prepared for them as they occur.

– Frank Sherwood

Survival Tips: Weather Conditions

Fields of Blue

In April, Ethnobotany apprentices enjoyed a day communing with one of the highlights of spring in the Pacific Northwest: blue camas (Camassia quamash).


Blue camas was a staple food for the first people who lived here.  Camas bulbs are rich in the carbohydrate, inulin, which is indigestible until cooked for a long enough period of time. Native peoples cooked the bulbs in steam pits, which converted the inulin to fructose.

Not only did native people gather camas, they tended the patches by doing periodic controlled burns to ensure their food supply.  They also weeded them of the poisonous bulb look-alike, death camas. Although easily distinguishable from blue camas when flowering, death camas has similar leaves and bulbs.  Only harvest when the blue flowers are blooming!

We were grateful for a beautiful day and a bountiful harvest of blue camas bulbs!



Fields of Blue

Lovely Arnica


Our recent field studies with our Ethnobotany and Skills Apprenticeship programs brought us to find these sunny gems at the height of their bloom.  Students soon filled a basket with Arnica cordifolia flowers and leaves from the abundance in the mountain meadows of Eastern Washington.  We were able to make fresh leaf tincture as well as leaf and flower oil infusions from the newly harvested plants.

Arnica-infused olive oil and tincture

The tinctures will be bottled into spray diffusers while the oil will become one facet of our Bruise-B-Gone salve.  Arnica flower and leaf is often used in herbal salves and oils to help our bodies recover from all kinds of bumps and bruises.  It is used as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever for hyperextensions, arthritis, sprains, strains and bursitis.  When tinctured, arnica is used externally for bruises, sprains, and swellings.  The tinctures are also reported to demonstrate antibiotic activity.

Arnica contains helenalin which exhibits anti-inflammatory activity. Arnica works by stimulating and dilating blood vessels, particularly the capillaries, increasing blood transport and circulation into injured, bruised, or inflamed tissues. This helps to speed up the healing process significantly.  Additionally, Arnica stimulates macrophage activity, helping with dead cell removal from the damaged tissues.

BruiseBGone salve

Caution:  Arnica should only be used on external, unbroken skin.

We have seen amazing results after using Arnica salve on string lashing from practicing long bow shooting.  We have been grateful to it many times for its healing gifts.  Arnica was just one of the many blessings the earth offered on our latest foraging travels.

Lovely Arnica

Hunting Journal Now Available!

Frank's journal

We are excited to announce that Frank Sherwood’s Hunting Journal has been published! Providing this simple yet powerful way of deepening people’s understanding of nature has been a dream of Frank’s for over ten years.

In Frank’s experience, regularly recording your outings can help you hone your attention to detail, discover patterns, and improve your level of expertise. He wanted to create an easy-to-use, easy-to-carry field journal to help people capture vital information about their outings. The field journal includes pages to record valuable data about each outing, and practical information about animal tracks and signs, cloud descriptions, a hunter’s checklist, and what to have in your wilderness survival kit. The journal also includes room for personal thoughts and observations as well as inspirational quotes.

We owe many thanks to author Clint Hollingsworth for his beautiful illustrations and publishing assistance. He helped make the dream a reality!Owl

The Hunting Journal is the first in a series of three. Look for the next one – Nature Awareness Journal – this summer.

Copies of the journal can be purchased at Amazon.  There’s also a rumor that you can get signed copies for the same price through Earthwalk Northwest!

Hunting Journal Now Available!