Spring = love

Spring = Love

Spring = Love

Spring = Love

Spring = Love

Spring = Love

Spring = Love

Spring = Love

Tomorrow is the first day of spring.

Last year at this time it was still snowing. This year the last of the snow has retreated  – even from the north slopes and hidden hollows.

And while it was a pretty pathetic winter around here, I'm letting it go. The skis are put away for the year, no matter how few miles I put on them.

Because spring. Spring! My favorite time of year.

The world awakens.

I'm ready to celebrate by cooking up this maple sap, putting some seeds in the ground, and picking more nettles, ramps and mushrooms than we can possibly eat.

(Don't worry. We freeze and dry the extras.)

I'm ready to get on with all of the magic that is spring.


The kids, it seems, are making their own magic already.

Along with their dear friends next door they have developed a habit of tromping to the creek each day to build forts and trade with one another in a kid-currency of clay, sticks, and stones.

It's awesome.

I didn't realize until I visited them there yesterday just how much this piece of their day looks like my own growing up. The creek and woods behind the house, the muddy boots and hands, the forts and sticks and grass and treasures.

Fort building was my first vocation, falling roughly between the ages of seven and thirteen. I'm still not sure there's a much better way to spend a childhood. To be – to so completely be – in the physical world. It's a good practice today more than ever.

And in the focused work of building with what surrounds us we develop a keen eye for what's useful and beautiful in things that others might ignore. As we shape the world with our own hands we find a power that is all our own.

It's good work for the soul that deepens our connection to the natural world and to the intrinsic value that everything in it possesses.

And so I left them creek-side to build and trade and be kids without a grown-up peering over their shoulders and took my own journey up stream and into the woods to be in the quiet and watch the forest come alive.

Spicy watercress in the spring, muskrat sign along the creek. A grouse exploding from the underbrush, a visit to the place we laid Jasper to rest.

And then some time sitting at the edge of the creek, just being.



What a rare treat of silence.


Spring also brings its own burdens of work and worry. The work I'm excited about. The worry I'm putting down. Or trying to anyway.

I'm not fretting so much about ticks this spring. (The most common worry to hold in spring in this place I call home.)

We're taking new precautions this year, experimenting with some new (and old) tick-battling methods.

Tomorrow we start a folk remedy of internal sulfur (as in: we're eating tiny amounts of it) which is supposed to be a natural tick deterrent. (Thank you for restraining yourself from telling me why this can't possibly work. We're desperate over here!)

Interestingly, a sulfur deficiency is linked to eczema, something Lupine and I have both struggled with in the past, which might explain why Lupine and I are tick magnets and the others not so much.

It feel apropos to start this on the first day of spring, doesn't it?

Whether it works or not, I'm feeling a bit more courageous.

And more courageous means I'm getting down to the creek and up to the woods a bit more often. Which my heart so desperately needs.

So there you go. See? It's already working.


Sayonara, winter. And welcome sweet, sweet spring!





What is your trick or tip keeping your family tick-free?

We love our natural insect repellant, Shoo. I include rose geranium essential oil in my recipe because of it's effectiveness as a tick deterrent. It works well but does require reapplication (being a natural product it doesn't stay on all day).

I'm also considering making a spray for ticks alone (this one is for mosquitoes and biting flies as well) but I digress.

I'd love to know other folk remedies or tricks your family uses to keep those little buggers away. Tell me everything.

13 thoughts on “Spring = love

  1. Lori Beske says:

    I would very much like to know good ways to keep tics away since my kids and i will be doing camping for our first summer…..and yes you definatly should make a spray just for tics!!!!

  2. Julie says:

    In the can’t hurt but might help department, we have used thiamine (vitamin B1) patches to repel mosquitoes and ticks. These were actually recommended to me by a doctor friend who spends a lot of time working in Africa where there are a number of insect-borne illnesses. You can also take B1, but I think you have to take it daily for it to be effective — the patches are easier IMO. Good luck! I have had Lyme’s myself, years ago.

  3. Amy says:

    Two things…
    1. Cistus Rock Rose Tea!!! I learned about it last year and finally was able to find a place on e-bay selling it. Not only does it make you repel ticks, it also is suppose to help if you’ve already had lyme disease. And supposedly has many other health benefits as well. We have struggled with this too with our children (live in Minnesota). I can’t speak first hand if it really works yet (mine in the mail and arriving soon) but a quick search on the internet and you can find plenty of testimonials (people use with their dogs too). Check it out! I’m crossing my fingers it’s the miracle tick prevention I’ve been hoping for!

    2. Have you read the book Roxaboxen? My kids are obsessed with this beautiful book and have been inspired by it to create many “forts” and “towns” in the forest. Check it out.:)

  4. KC says:

    This post reminded me of my childhood in open mesas of New Mexico. Roaming wherever I pleased finding pottery shards and collecting juniper berries. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. We don’t have ticks here in the desert so much, I could give you advice.

  5. Sarah says:

    Do you folks have any guinea hens on your farm? Supposedly they are amazing at finding and eating ticks! We were thinking of getting some ourselves this year.

  6. Rachel Wolf says:

    Ha! We did. I hated them and gave them away. They are so unbearably loud. That being said, we don’t pick up ticks near the house and barn – just down in the fields and woods. That’s me talking myself out of trying Guineas again.

  7. Angela says:

    We love Roxaboxen! I cry every time we read it. Barbara Cooney is one of my favorite illustrators, she did Miss Rumphius as well, another great book:)

  8. Anna says:

    I also fight a phobia of ticks and created two concoctions based on all the information I could find on ingredients specific for repelling ticks.
    -Oil based (rubbed on exposed skin, ankles, hairline, etc): Catnip/oil infusion, sesame oil, neem oil, eucalyptus, lavender, and geranium eo.
    -Alcohol based (sprayed on clothes, shoes, and hair): catnip tea, ACV, witch hazel, vanilla, and eucalyptus tincture.
    As you can surmise, it smells a bit odd, which is fine as long as the ticks agree. Went camping in tick-haven last spring, and no one on that particular weekend had ticks who used my combo :). Hope this helps with ideas!

  9. Margit says:

    Hi Rachel, Here in Australia it is either DEET (sooo nasty) or Lemon Eucalyptus oil that repel ticks. I see that Lemon Eucalyptus is in your Shoo. Do you not find it works?


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