Call for Submissions: The Nature Zine, issue 3

Issue3sumbissions

It’s that time of year, well, a bit past due but I was lucky enough to be doing field research for an extra 5 weeks this year. I’m looking for your submissions for issue 3 of The Nature Zine: (re)connecting with the natural world.

Get creative! Send your poems, stories, thoughts, illustrations, paintings, photos to be submitted in the next issue. Topics can include but are not limited to: favorite hikes, backcountry recipes (vegan only please), foraging tips, trail reviews, adventure stories, bike touring, species descriptions/identification tips, collages, places in the city to appreciate the natural world, permaculture, primitive skills,  fears of the natural world, train hopping, attempts to balance city and wilderness, essays, book reviews. I think you get the idea.

There will be a limited edition tape release with issue 3!

Thanks to everyone who has submitted to and supported the Nature Zine in the past and continue to do so. Issues 1 & 2 are still available, but there may be a delay on shipping as I need to focus on getting Issue 3 together for now. If you are in Chicago or New York City, you can pick up a copy at Quimby’s Bookstore or Bluestockings Bookstore.

Send submissions to batsnbikes at gmail dot com by December 1, 2014. If you prefer to snail mail your copy, please email for an address.

Thanks!!!

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Nocturnal Friends- A visiting photographer

A very long over due post…

This past summer I had the lovely honor of having a very talented wildlife photographer join me in the field to photograph bats and other creatures he came across. Michael Durham made his bed in the corner of our living room floor crammed between the couch and the wall attempting to sleep through the daily morning commotion of Porter Cove for the better half of the month. One of my techs named the dead end road we lived on, Porter Cove, as Mr. “Pappy” Porter seemed to own most of the land in Unicoi- his extensive family were scattered throughout the trailers sprinkled within the cove. Michael slept in his living room nest or in the forest with us in an extra tent. That summer we all slept on either air mattresses or sleeping pads on the floor in the house or on the forest floor. He battled the constant thunderstorms right there with us and with all of his fancy, expensive and non-waterproof gear.

Almost as soon as he arrived into town, we were out in the field, actually I think we left just 4 hours after he arrived to Unicoi, TN. It was the hottest and most humid night of the year and I also had to tell him that he’d be driving his rental car on a road that had begun to wash away down the side of the mountain. As long as it’s not raining…too much…we should be ok.

Every night we could go out, Michael went with us. We would set up our nets to catch the bats and other equipment to record bat calls, while Michael set up his extensive high speed camera equipment inside a family-sized tent on the edge of a dirt road, often surrounded by stinging nettles and poison ivy. Each bat we’d catch, we’d record the basics and if s/he was a species of interest, Michael would let an individual bat fly in the tent, catching their precise movements as they swooped around- their mouths open as they sent out calls too high for us to hear, the sounds bouncing back to their ears as they dodge every obstacle in their way. I’m not going to even attempt to go into his set-up because I would only fail to explain the details, but these details and his passion for wildlife photography are the main ingredients to the photos that allow us to witness the beauty of these nocturnal creatures that all too often escapes us.

Bats often only conjure up images of fear, or are rarely thought about. But I want to share some of Michael’s photos from my field season with all of you. Within those few short moments he spent with each bat, he captured what most people never have the opportunity to see up close. Maybe you are reading this because you already love bats, or you are curious, or perhaps you are an excellent friend and enjoy reading what I write. And maybe it’s something else all together. Either way, his photos offer a glimpse into the life of bats and their nocturnal friends- including wildlife photographers and biologists alike.

Male northern long-eared myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) photographed in the Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee. (digital composite)

Male northern long-eared myotis (Myotis septentrionalis) photographed in the Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee. (digital composite)

Visit his site, DurmPhoto.com
photo captions taken from Michael Durham’s photo descriptions. Thanks!!

The Nature Zine, Issue 2

Completed!

I can’t believe it’s been a year since the first issue of The Nature Zine. Now I have a whole new collection for you to enjoy!

NatureZineIssue2

Issue 2 is packed full of intense stories, thoughts, poems, art, photos and an ‘interview’ from multiple contributors. I’m thrilled to share with you this next run of submissions- they are all quite inspiring. People share their fears, passion, and thoughts on exploring, connecting with and studying nature. The beautiful ruffed grouse on the cover was painted by Jay Dowd, owner and tattoo artist at Consolidated Tattoo Parlor and Barber Shop in Flint, Michigan. Jay and I have gone on a LOTS of outdoor adventures together and he spends any moment that he can out in the wilderness, so of course it was a pleasure to include his painting. I really enjoy receiving submissions from all over the states (and Canada!), so please keep them coming.

My friend Matt and I collaborated on a piece together for issue 2- never too late- as we had once discussed writing of our 6 month adventure (much of which has been described here, but we now we were able to reflect on our journey and share new aspects of it all). We essentially interview ourselves- as in we came up with a few questions and then separately wrote our responses. We waited to share them until we both completed our pieces. I then meshed them together, leaving them as they were- not letting our answers influence one another.

If you are interested in a copy, I’ll send you one for free, trade or a $1-$3 donation.  Donations just help to cover the cost of copies and shipping. Plus allow me to keep up with this very enjoyable project. I’m on a student budget so anything helps. Just use the the paypal button below or email me for other options, batsnbikes [at] gmail [dot] com

Donate for a copy of The Nature Zine

Much thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project! I’m keeping Issue One in print as well, so let me know if you are interested. Both a creative outlet and a way to share our thoughts on connecting with nature, The Nature Zine will continue on with more issues.  If you are interested in contributing, please send your stories, thoughts, and art to me or contact me for more information:  batsnbikes [at] gmail [dot] com

p.s. wondering what a zine is? This should help.

Pond Mountain Wilderness

We try to control our surroundings everyday.  We hide in rooms where we control the temperature.  We attempt to control the sounds around us by drowning them out with headphones or closing our windows.  We turn dials in our vehicles to create sounds we want to hear and to cool or warm ourselves.  We turn on lights when the sun fades.  The door to our house latches shut, an attempt to keep out what we don’t want in our homes.

We shut out the natural world everyday, and yet we constantly try to manipulate it.  Our actions and daily routines have impacted our climate, but we cannot control the weather.  Everyday that I work outside I am reminded of this- and I respect this constant awareness.  Sure, I’ll admit that this summer has been full of frustrations as it has stormed and rained almost every single day.  We take the risk of setting everything up to catch bats for the night, only to have a storm rush in ruining our chances at a full night of bat surveys.  Rain is only a reminder that I’m not working in a controlled environment-  I am exposed to the rain, wind, humidity, heat, cold, insects…. I have no control, nor do I want to control the wilderness.

—–

We could see lightning off in the distance, perhaps too close, but we heard no thunder.  We keep the nets open, stretched out across the old gravel road, between two metal poles- 20 feet tall.  The lighting becomes brighter, more frequent and the rain is quick to follow.  We close up for the night, but by the time our gear is packed my clothes are soaked, plastered to my body, and my hair is heavy with rain.

We’re out at Dennis Cove, near the pond and the Appalachian Trail crosses our site.  My crew departs for home, but Kyle and I make our way through the field and into the tent.  The rain continues for hours, and when it finally lets up I catch the sounds of bullfrogs and spring peepers scattered through the moments that I awake through the night.

I’d hardly had time to even think about where we could hike the next day- my first true day off since the field season began.  I browsed over a map in a region I knew we’d have to work- immediately attracted to the Pond Mountain Wilderness.  The trail climbs up a ridge and we can walk to the trail head from my work site plus it deposits us back into civilization at Watauga Lake- a jump into the lake after our hike.  A quick internet search, revealed little information about Pond Mountain Trail- most of what I found of the Pond Mountain Wilderness was in regards to the portion of the AT that cuts at an angle across the western portion.  I wanted to avoid the clutter of people, a wilderness trail is always more intriguing.  All I knew was that it was 4.5 miles long and runs along the ridge top, seems easy enough.  I only took a quick glance at the topographic map.  Hey, why not add on a bit more- just a quick, easy hike before starting the Pond Mountain Trail.  Laurel Fork Trail (39) next to Dennis Cove Campground would lead us south, where we would connect with FS-50F to head back North.  It would end where FS-50 crosses, and on the opposite side is where Pond Mountain Trail (40) begins.

Nine creek crossings followed by a 2.2 mile hike up a winding gravel forest service road was my definition of a “quick, easy hike.”  Well, it was actually easy but the whole taking our boots and socks off to cross 9 portions of the creek within a couple of miles- surveying each crossing for the least sketchy area to cross- made things not so quick.  The rain left the creek high, hiding any rocks that may have once been available for scurrying across with our boots on.  Other crossings found the creek to be up to my thighs.  With each crossing, we became more careless.  Looking at the topo maps now, it’s so clear to see that the trail crosses the creek many times- perhaps when it’s not a summer full of rain, a shoeless entry may not be required.

Trail 39 and 50F meet up near an open field- we filter water and what we had hoped to be our final creek session knowing that finding a water source on the ridge would be unlikely.  As we reach FS road 50F, the clouds begin to darken but only a small amount of rain finds its way down to us.  We pass the only two people we see on the trails, as they casually stroll through our last creek crossing with their fancy boot gaiters.  The next couple of miles were drowned out by the sound of gravel crunching under our boots with each step, our pace steady as we followed the road that would take us up along Rough Ridge and to Pond Mountain Trail.

We reach an open gate, 50F ends at FS-50, I point directly across the road, “That’s our trail.”  Kyle is doubtful as he looks across the gravel into the forest, no evidence of a trail to be found.  We look again at the map, Pond Mountain Trail should be directly in front of us.  It’s a wilderness trail, so I’m not really surprised that as we look ahead we see only vegetation- we hike in.  Maybe I saw a faint blue blaze, but soon enough we come across a post confirming that we are on the right path.  Suddenly it’s quite obvious, as we are on an old timber road, faded into a two track- the clearest portion of the trail.  It’s, of course, in the easiest portion of the trail that I trip over a downed tree sending myself flying through the air and slamming into the damp but still hard ground.  The fall is only a reminder that we skipped lunch, my head feels light but I’m laughing at my fall. Handfuls of almonds, pecans and some dried fruit allow me to regain my energy.

The trail narrows as it climbs the ridge.  We hike through rhododendron tunnels along the sloping slides, the path is relatively clear, the blue blazes are solid and bright but as we ascend both the blaze and the path begins to fade.  The steepness of the trail is suddenly a slap in the face as we bear right with a clear view of what lies ahead.  There are no switchbacks.  We climb the steep grade, our steps slipping on the forest floor full of decaying leaves that have absorbed weeks worth of rain.

Kyle pauses above me, periodically to wait for me to catch up to his pace.  We continuously check to make sure we are still on some sort of trail but all of a sudden we are on these large bolders, covered with lichen and surrounded by brambles with a few trees that have managed to squeeze life between rock.

The blazes are gone, there is no path.

Continue reading

Call for Submissions- Issue #2

issue2submit

Issue One of The Nature Zine is still going strong and I’m looking to put issue 2 together by September.  Please send me your stories, poems, hiking tips, backpackinging food recipes, thoughts on exploring the outdoors, your photos, your illustrations, trail reviews, escaping the city….. I could go on-  you get it.

Much thanks to my rad friends for their previous contributions, touring with my zines, adding them to their distro and spreading the word.  If you are in Chicago or NYC you can also pick up the Nature Zine at Quimby’s and Blue Stockings –  much thanks to them as well for keeping The Nature Zine in stock.

Looking forward to adding your stories and art to the next issue!  Please share widely.

Make Your Own Vegan Granola

I finally started making my own granola and now I’m really wondering what took me so long.  In my mind I imagined it being fairly time consuming and complicated, but that was just me being lazy.  Honestly, after realizing that my advisor makes her own granola regularly and she’s one of the busiest people I know- I truly realized that I was just being lazy (thanks Joy!).  The typical ‘why make my own when I can just buy a box of it or get it in the bulk section?’  My obsession with eating cereal and granola used to take up  a large portion of my food budget, but by making my own I have decreased my spending and actually enjoy the homemade version a million times more.  I’m on a extra tight student budget now (not that my budget was much before) so this has really helped out.

Reasons for making your own granola:

  • Save $$$
  • Reduce waste (think of all the packaging- plastic!)
  • Reduce energy use
  • Less time spent reading ingredient lists
  • Make it specific to your taste / allergies
  • and lots more I don’t feel like typing

granola

I’ve adapted this recipe from Robin Roberton’s 1000 Vegan Recipes – an excellent book that is worth adding to your collection.

Vegan Granola

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant!)
  • 1 cup chopped or slivered raw almonds (or nuts of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of molasses (depends on how much you like this stuff, start with 1T and go from there)
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional, I just love this stuff)
  • Pinch of salt

Note:  mix and match ingredients – add your favorite nuts, seeds, grains, spices and dried fruit.  

Makes approximately 8 cups- I use a commercial sized baking sheet, but you may want to: cut this recipe in half the first time making it or use two baking sheets.

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Evenly spread the oats, chopped almonds and sunflower seeds on the baking sheet.  You don’t need to add oil or anything like that.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. While it’s baking, prep your other ingredients:  In a medium sized bowl, combine the raisins, coconut, cinnamon, allspice, salt and any other spices/ ingredients of your choice.
  5. In a glass measuring cup, measure out the maple syrup and add the molasses to this cup as well.
  6. Remove the other items from the oven and reduce temperature to 300F.
  7. Add all dry ingredients to the pan, mix them up.
  8. Drizzle the syrup and molasses onto the dry ingredients, stir together until everything seems decently coated.
  9. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes (or until crisp).  Don’t burn it!
  10. Remove from oven.  It may seem sticky but as it cools it will become more crispy and less sticky.  Using a spatula, stir the granola- this will prevent it from sticking to the pan as it cools. Then let cool completely – half hour or so.
  11. Transfer to an air-tight container and it’s delicious and good to eat for weeks.
  12. Enjoy with your favorite vegan yogurt, nut milk or on its own as a snack.

Perfect to take camping or to enjoy on long hikes!

granola close up

 

 

 

Braddock, I’ll miss you

I’ve spent my entire life saying good-bye to towns and cities and the friends that I’ve made living within them.  However, without moving from place to place I would have never had the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people nor would I have been able to develop the friendships that have grown in both my presence and absence.  I continue to look forward, but I do so with the strength I have gained from those that I have met along the way.  Those that have filled my homes with laughter and the smell of vegan meals.  Those that have helped me question my actions, allowed me to appreciate often forgotten aspects of life, and those that have been there for me during the difficult times but also there to create new, happy memories.

My last year in Pennsylvania, a little over a third of my time spent living in Braddock or visiting prior to my move, was filled with all of the above moments and more.  During my last week in Detroit in 2012 I was lucky enough to make connections that would lead to my introduction of rad people in Braddock, Pittsburgh, and other nearby cities- opening the doors to punk/hardcore/vegan/straight edge/etc life in the region.  I can’t help but value those connections as they often lead to fantastic and like-minded people.  I want to thank you all for making me feel so welcome, for letting me sleep on your couches, inviting me to shows, trips out of town, vegan potlucks, coffee shop and beach hangs, yoga classes and everything else.  And to be able to live with two rad friends (and their cats and rats) for the winter, being only a few minutes walk away from other friends, felt like some a privilege.

My last weekend in Braddock consisted of epic hangs and meals together, and of course, a long awaited camping trip with a few friends from Braddock/PGH.  Again, I have to say that Raccoon Creek State Park is a great escape from the city for hiking a camping.  It’s decent for a fragmented piece of land so close to a major city.  Camping on 4/20 with sober and vegan friends assures for the best camping snacks and conversations.  Our attempt at pancakes cooked on the fire was perfect for breakfast following a night of pizza hobo/mountain pies, s’mores and junk food (and fruit).  The fire kept us warm on our 30 degree night, no rain to chill us, only frost on the surface as we awoke at sunrise.

x420x Camping Trip

x420x Camping Trip

Vegan pancakes and sausage

 

I look forward to future visits, much love to you all!  Now I must venture on to new areas…