The Hoverter Sholl Box Huckleberry
Can you name a plant that covers 8 acres of land, is 1300 years old,
will protect you and bring you luck as you enter the new year?
My quest to find an herb worthy of being featured as the first in a series for 2021 unfolded magically! My daughter Mycenea self quarantined for 14 days, as did I, so we could be together for Christmas. We spent a lot of time outdoors, and one of our favorite jaunts was to visit the Hoverter and Sholl Box Huckleberry in Perry County, Pennsylvania.
The box huckleberry is a member of the acidic soil loving Ericaceae family, which include azaleas, rhododendron, trailing arbutus, cranberries and blueberries, among others. Unlike the giant Sequoias and the Bristlecone pines, known for their their age, the box huckleberry is only about a half a foot tall. It covers the forest floor and can easily be overlooked.
The box huckleberry and blueberry are often confused, but there are differences. The blueberry grows in clusters, and the box huckleberry, as well as the huckleberry, has more singular berries, with occasional small clusters. Though the skin of all of the berries are blue, the blueberry is white or light green inside, and the huckleberry and box huckleberries have a deep red violet or purple inner flesh with a tendency to stain.
There are several folk names for the Huckleberries, including Blaeberry, Whortleberry, Bilberry and Hurtleberry. Bilberry is a folk name for the Blueberry. It gets confusing. Fortunately, scientists use Latin names to provide clarification. We are referring to the box huckleberry (Gaylussacia brachycera) in this case.
There were two box huckleberry plants in the area we visited. One, at Losh Run, is thought to be over 13,000 years old! Bristlecone pines, at 5,000 years old, were considered to be the oldest living organisms on earth, yet the box huckleberry is significantly older. The age is determined by the rate of growth, approximately 6 inches a year, and was calculated by the size of the plants.
The Losh Run Box Huckleberry, which at one time covered an area of about 100 acres, nearly 10 times larger than the Hoveter Sholl, was damaged by a forest fire in 1963, then partially destroyed during the 1970s due to road construction of U.S. 22/322. The remainder is in an area difficult to access.
The younger plant is estimated to be 1,200 to 1,300 years old, and fortunately has been in a protected area as a National Natural Landmark since 1929. The 8 plus acre box huckleberry, named because its leaves resemble boxwood, is situated within a 10 acres area in Tuscarora State Forest with a quarter mile path around the plant. Twenty-seven stations along the loop give an educational overview.
The Hoveter Sholl plant was discovered in 1845 by Spencer Fullerton Baird, a professor at Dickinson College in Carlisle. He was a naturalist and later became the first curator of the Smithsonian Institution, advancing to become the second Secretary of the institution.
The box huckleberries were almost forgotten until 1948 when Dr. Fredrick Coville, a graduate of Cornell University working for the Department of Agriculture, determined the plants, one covering over 8 acres, and the other nearly 100 acres, were each individual massive plants! The relict species, miraculously surviving the ice age, is considered self-sterile, and reproduces through a system of root stalks.
This remarkable plant has not always been well revered. Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn is probably the most well know of the huckleberries, and in an interview in an interview in 1895, Twain said he used the name to indicate Finn was a boy “of lower distraction” than Mark Twain.
A more positive huckleberry reference was featured in the song Moon River in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It is beautifully explained by Jessica Dang, Single Girl Dinner. “For years I had no idea what it meant: "My huckleberry friend." It hung in my mind. I searched Paul Varjak's relationship with Holly Golightly for the answer. Theirs was a mutual adoration laced with innocent flirtation; there was a certain playfulness that freed them from being neither friends nor lovers."
On New Year’s Eve, the residents of New Bloomfield, PA traditionally assemble to pay homage to their oldest resident. They lower a huge huckleberry from the courthouse clock tower at midnight to pay tribute to this humble herb. This year’s pandemic will prevent the assemblage, but they will hopefully meet on New Year’s Eve next year to honor this enormous, ancient plant.
As you enter 2021, I wish you the blessings of huckleberry! May you gather magic and find luck and protection in “berried treasures”, I’m hoping there will be unexpected blessings and virtues all around you. And may each of you find a ‘Huckleberry friend”!
“Everyone should have a huckleberry friend at one point or another.
It is an experience that showers your life with magic for as long as it lasts,
whether it be for a couple of weeks or a couple of years.”
~ Jessica Dang, Single Girl Dinner, #SingleGirlDinner
The last time I saw Susan she was three years old.
She lived in my hometown and was Julia, my best friend’s, little sister. I was thirteen years old when my dad died and we left the town where he taught at the local college. Mother got a job out of state and I lost touch with both sisters. Years later, Julia and I reconnected, followed by my reconnecting with Susan. We became Facebook friends and were in touch almost daily. Her creativity, compassion for others, and energy, were a breath of fresh air.
On October 9 this year, Susan passed unexpectedly. When I saw her daughter’s post on Facebook, announcing her Mom’s death, I was heart sick. Even now, thinking of it gives me a lump in my throat.
A few days ago, I found the Christmas card Susan sent me last year.
This is so much more than a Christmas card to me. It is a reminder to take the time to let people know how you feel. Susan’s card will inspire me to send physical reminders to let others know they matter to me, and why.
Years ago, I read that sincere compliments are so rare, we remember them for a lifetime. At my age, a physical reminder is helpful. In the age of everything quick, reactionary and electronic, a personal note is especially treasured. This year may be the perfect time to send a hand written note to loved ones to let them know you care.
Stay safe and share your love and light. No day is promised.
India is celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights, and Children’s Day, happiness and joy.
Let’s join them!
This newsletter from my dear friend Rameshji and his beautiful wife will give you more information. You can also read about his new book, Soul Selfie, below. It is available on Amazon and I enthusiastically recommend it!
Date : 13-11-2020
A SPECIAL DIWALI
This year the festival of lights (Diwali) coincides with the festival of joy and happiness (Children’s Day) and teaches us how we can live life, childlike:
1. Children may create a mess, appear untidy, have runny noses and sticky, dirty hands but we love them nonetheless as their hearts are always clean. They neither hold grudges nor nurture feelings of anger, ill-will or negativity; thereby showing us that the inside matters more than the outside.
2. Like children, our focus should be on bhavana and not merely on rituals and ceremonies. We should aim to express internally, not just impress externally.
3. Children are always eager and enthusiastic to burst crackers, design rangoli, meet relatives, taste sweets and participate in all festivities. We too, should have the same level of energy and excitement towards life and should make the most of every moment given to us.
4. The innocent smiles, mischievous giggles and infectious laughter of children shows us that life should not be taken seriously all the time but should be filled with lighter moments which spreads joy in everyone’s life.
5. Just as the diyas light us up soon after we light them, children also begin to impart valuable life lessons to us while we raise them. We must be open to their perspectives and allow them to be our guiding lighttoo.
So, this Diwali let us not just light up our homes but light up our lives by cherishing our children and embracing our own inner child!
A friend asked where I find my information on herbal legends and lore. I'be been collecting for decades, following my grandmother's example. Her journals are filled with articles, recipes, and notes. She was born in 1900 and there are pages dated from 1918 forward. Many of her notes are stained from use and the journals are falling apart, but they are priceless treasures to me!
She also gathered cards, booklets, etc, including give aways from stores. One of my favorites is a 50th anniversary edition from the Valley Rural Electric Co-op, Inc., celebrating President Franklin's Rural Electrification Order 7050.
I started collecting longer ago than I care to admit, and have 3 ring binders and journals filled with hundreds of articles, notes, and sketches. And now the internet is brimming with information, though a lot of what I've collected isn't on line - yet! I'm continuing to sketch almost every day and so on it goes!
I recently read a story about a man who dreamt he was a softly moving beam of light floating through a crowd. The dream prompted him to consider the impact he had on others as he moved through his day. He made the decision to literally be a 'beam of light'. He made a commitment to bring warmth and light to his personal '10 foot zone". With our 6 feet social distancing area during the pandemic, it is positive way to think of filling the space.
There are people who light up the area around them naturally. Wouldn't it be phenomenal if we would all become aware of the warmth we can extend to others, whether in a long line at the grocery store, a traffic jam or passing a neighbor? A smile and a kind word can make all the difference. If they don't smile back, we shouldn't take it personally. We never know what is going on in people's lives. But most of the time people will be receptive, and they'll probably pass the warmth along to others.
We can't control what is happening in the world, and the media makes us very aware of the ugliness and injustice. Yet we are much more powerful than we realize. Extend a warm smile, a sincere compliment, gentle reassurance - it doesn't cost anything to use our boundless source of love and energy to make the world a kinder, gentler place. We all have the power to impact our own 6 foot radius. If each one of us commits to that small area, and all of the circles connect, the impact would be immeasurable.
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing
A post from last year. Seems like an appropriate time to repost.
Sending prayers and comfort to those who have lost loved ones.
In February a dear friend's mother died. I created a comfort journal to help her process her loss and give her comfort while remembering her loved one. Since then I have made several more but this is my favorite - probably because her mother's favorite flower was the rose. The comfort journal provides quotes, writing prompts, and a list of ideas for self care. I asked her a few questions about her mother so I could customize it - her favorite color, flower, song, etc. If you have a loved one who has lost someone dear to them and likes to journal, you might want to make a comfort journal for them.
Happy Birthday Nancy!
My dear friend Nancy celebrated her 75th Birthday in late November and we threw her a surprise party at one of my favorite restaurants in Baltimore, the Bygone, located in Harbor East. Nancy and I decided on the date and time together which fortunately gave me plenty of time to collaborate with her daughters who created and sent out gorgeous invitation by snail mail.
Since the Bygone has a 1920s theme, coming in period garb was suggested but not mandatory. I encouraged Nancy to wear the Roaring 20s outfit she had worn for Halloween. The creativity and variety of costumes were impressive and the restaurant, with it's Art Deco theme and spectacular views was a worthy backdrop!
Yet as the time of the party drew near, Nancy began to ask about changing the day and/or the time of the celebration. She thought only the two of us were going and seemed confused that I was so adamant about keeping it at the designated time.
Everything worked out well and she was undoubtedly surprised. Later she said it was the best birthday of her life so the efforts were certainly worth it!
If you live in Baltimore, or plan to visit, the Bygone's spectacular views, scrumptious cuisine and superlative customer service and attention to detail will provide the perfect setting for your most memorable moments!
Yesterday I presented an overview of my course scheduled for spring at Renaissance Institute! It was wonderful to see so many friends and hear about the other presentations being offered! The amount of creativity and talent in this world never ceases to amaze me!
I'm presenting Seeds, Roots and Routes -
Our lives are rich with miraculous seeds - a thought, a smile, a class . . . Roots gather nutrients to help seeds grow. We will explore stories, legends and symbolism, protection and conservation, paintings, songs, short videos to illustrate parallels to our life experiences and journey. Bring a journal to reflect on your life’s seeds, roots and routes - past, present and future.
When I journal, I add seeds at the bottom of the page. A seed may represent a new friend, a class, an idea, etc. When I review my pages at the end of the year it's interesting to see which have flourished, which have remained dormant and may sprout at a later time, and which are best to let fade away.
Decades ago I attended a Brownie registration event in a church basement. I wanted to enroll my oldest daughter, Mycala, in a Girl Scout Brownie troop but they didn't have a leader. I was somehow recruited and loved working with the girls. That led to numerous volunteer positions and I was later hired as a training specialist, then adult education director. The seeds sprouted into numerous friendships that are alive and thriving today!
My training in Girl Scouts was superlative.Francis Hesselbein, our CEO, raised the bar on every aspect of leadership. "Peter F. Drucker, the founding father of management, proclaimed Frances Hesselbein “the best CEO in America.” “She could manage any company in America, even General Motors, and do a great job,” Drucker said." ~ Management Matters Network
When she was called to lead the Girl Scouts, Hesselbein sent all the troop leaders to a leadership training program at Harvard. She believed that it made the leaders feel better about themselves, commenting, “We thought they deserved to go to Harvard that they were the best.”
That seed provided me with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to deliver fun and effective training with SMART goals and objectives, always using the experiential learning cycle as the base.
One unexpected experience in a church basement changed every aspect of my life, leading me to complete my masters in training and become a certified instructor of trainers. It provided me with the opportunity to work with women and girls who were striving to live up to their best potential.
Watching the girls in my Girl Scout Brownie troop, and others in our community, grow into community leaders has been a joy! Continuing friendships and experiences with women of sterling character has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.
The seeds of opportunity are everywhere. Have you had an experience that changed every aspect of your life? Please share in the comments below!
A Festival of Light, Music and Innovation!
The lights in the harbor in Baltimore are always spectacular, but the city really lights up when Light City Baltimore comes to town! It's an event I don't miss - one of my favorite city spectaculars! This is the third year and every year the displays vary.
"In just three years, Light City has become one of the world’s most renowned light art festivals, transforming Baltimore with large-scale light art installations, performances and music. Situated along the Baltimore Inner Harbor and Waterfront, Light City features international, national and local artists, innovative culinary experiences and an interactive children’s area. 2019 marks the 4th year of Light City. Light City is held outdoors in tents, and inside the Inner Harbor’s most popular visitor attractions. The outdoor festival is 100% free and accessible; all indoor venues are accessible and some indoor/private venues may be ticketed." ~ Light City Baltimore 2019
The videos below are the next best thing to being there,
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!