A Touch of Nature – 1/15/04 – The Herbs Place

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CLEANSE WITH CLEAN START
Eat too many wrong foods for the holidays? We take in
toxins from food, water and the air. Cleaning inside is
important to good health. It’s also a great way to begin
a weight loss program since a toxic body holds onto fluids
and fats it doesn’t need. Get a Clean Start Cleansing Program

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A TOUCH OF NATURE
January 15, 2004 Issue

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DONNA’S COMMENTS
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We’ve only sampled a tiny fraction of the potential foods offered by
tropical forests, but these foods already influence our diet significantly.
An astounding number of (bananas, citrus), vegetables (peppers, okra), nuts
(cashews, peanuts), drinks (coffee, tea, cola), oils (palm, coconut),
flavorings (cocoa, vanilla, sugar, spices), and other foods (beans, grains,
fish) originate in and around rain forests. Most of the world’s species are
also in rain forests and they offer an incredible range of biodiversity.

Rain forests have very poor soil because most plants are grown above the
ground and the strength of those vines is actually what keeps the trees
standing. When destroyed, the earth does not offer a good alternative for
grazing cattle or growing crops with the added problem of erosion now that
the land has been cleared; therefore, they only provide a temporary [3-5
year] solution until another segment of rain forest must be destroyed to
replace the usefulness of the last.

Destroying rainforests does not only destroy plants and animals. The human
toll is shocking. Drought and famine regularly follow environmental abuses.
And children are the ones who suffer the most in this global scourge. Every
hour of the day, more than one thousand children under the age of five die
from polluted water. To care for God’s creation is to care for God’s
children.

Target Earth is one of the organizations that are trying to make a
difference by serving the poor through serving the earth. Find out more
about this organization that we have been involved with since the 80’s.

Hope You’re Busy With Your New Year Goals!
Donna

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CRITTER FACTS
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DRESSING FOR WINTER

It’s wintertime and many snow-dwellers have donned their winter wear, from
white fur (or feathers) to specialized foot gear. Weasels have shed their
brown fur for ermine cloaks. Arctic Foxes pad along on the surface of the
snow on thick, furry snowshoes.

In northern landscapes both predator and prey may grow a white winter coat
to help them blend in with their background. But this winter dressing must
also keep them warm, dry, and mobile.

Is a white coat warmer than a dark one?

What other tricks help keep Arctic birds and mammals warm?

Read more to learn some of the ways northern animals dress up for winter!

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THOSE AMAZING BIRDS AND GARDENING FOR WILDLIFE
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‘TIS THE SEASON FOR BIRDS AND BERRIES
From National Wildlife Magazine

Getting birds through winter takes more than bird feeders and brush piles.
It also takes a few spinach plants. But this spinach is not the green, leafy
vegetable. To wildlife gardeners, a spinach plant is a tree or shrub that
has bitter berries. Like those of us who prefer decadent foods over
healthier alternatives, birds will flock first to ice cream plants, such as
flowering dogwoods, and avoid spinach plants, such as hawthorns and sumacs,
for as long as possible.

Only when the coldest days of the year set in and food sources are exhausted
do birds begin to eat their spinach. At that point, the long-lasting berries
can truly be a lifesaver.

" Fruits are very important for overwintering birds," says Christopher
Whelan, an avian biologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey.
According to Whelan, many insectivorous birds change their diet in fall and
winter. Woodpeckers, thrashers, quail, robins, waxwings, mockingbirds,
bluebirds, grouse, catbirds, thrushes and even chickadees and titmice turn
to berries when the weather turns cold.

The best winter-fruiting plants for wildlife are native trees and shrubs.
" Many of them produce prodigious fruit," says Whelan. Natives are also easy
to care for once they are established. Dozens-even hundreds-of varieties are
available.

Try cultivating some of the following plants in your garden. Nurseries and
native plant societies can help you select the species best suited to your
part of the country.

If you live in the southernmost sections of the country, now is an excellent
time to set out fruiting plants. Gardeners in the northern tier and mountain
states can plant in the spring. But in the rest of the country, you should
wait until autumn before adding a little spinach to your backyard.

Sumac: For years sumacs were considered trash trees by gardeners. But now
these widespread natives are cultivated for their fiery autumn foliage and
showy seed heads. They are also without equal as a winter emergency food for
a wide range of birds and mammals. Some 15 species occur in North America.
Winged sumac is native to the eastern half of the United States. Smooth
sumac extends into the West. In the Southwest, plant little-leaf, aromatic
or evergreen sumacs. Poison sumac is not really sumac and should be avoided
as it’s more closely related to poison ivy.

Holly: "Probably the best winter berry plants are hollies," says Wynn
Anderson, of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at the University of Texas-El
Paso. Possum haw, a deciduous holly with abundant fruit, is found throughout
the southeastern states. Another is winterberry, the hardiest of the
hollies, flourishing in New England and eastern Canada. Its crimson berries
improve with age and are popular with birds after a frost or two. Three
other native hollies-American, yaupon and inkberry-are evergreen, providing
protection from snow, rain and wind. Cluster female holly bushes with a male
to ensure a good crop of fruit.

Saltbush: Several species of this desert shrub are native to the Southwest
and California. Anderson recommends four-winged saltbush. "It’s excellent
for quail as well as for a number of other critters," he says. All of the
saltbushes are drought tolerant and prefer well-drained soils and full sun.

Hackberry: Nearly 50 species of birds-ranging from roadrunners to
titmice-eat the pea-sized fruit of the common hackberry. Related to the elm,
this species is one of the few trees that thrives from the edge of the Rocky
Mountains to the Atlantic seaboard. Eventually reaching 40 to 60 feet tall
in ideal situations, the common hackberry is durable and can be planted in
urban areas and in poor soils.

American Beautyberry: This hardy four- to six-foot shrub has purple or
magenta fruit, which can last until mid-winter. Native in much of the
eastern United States, beauty-berry is a favorite of mockingbirds and
several other species of birds.

Viburnum: Several native viburnums have berries that persist long into the
winter. The fruit of possumhaw viburnum starts out chartreuse in the summer
then gradually changes color, first to white, then pink, and finally to navy
blue. It is native to the eastern coastal plain from Connecticut south to
Florida and west to Texas. Highbush cranberry and nannyberry are two
viburnums that grow across the northern United States.

Mountain Ash: As the name suggests, mountain ash prefers cool, moist
habitats. American mountain ash, usually a large shrub or small tree, ranges
from eastern Canada south into the Appalachian Mountains. Sitka mountain ash
is a western species. Both have showy white blossoms in the spring. After a
few freeze-and-thaw cycles, the orange-red fruit attracts grosbeaks, grouse
and waxwings.

Hawthorn: Dozens of species of hawthorns are found in the United States and
Canada. With thorns and a tendency to clump into thickets, these small trees
do double duty, providing secure nesting sites in summer and plentiful
berries in winter. Cedar waxwings, ruffed grouse and fox sparrows all devour
the plants’ scarlet berries. James Romer, a horticulturist for Iowa State
University Extension, recommends Washington hawthorn in the East and
Midwest. Another possibility is a cultivated variety of green hawthorn known
as winter king.

Bayberry: Most species of bayberry, including northern bayberry and Pacific
wax myrtle, are vital to winter wildlife. In the Southeast, tree swallows
and other birds swarm to southern wax myrtle if a late cold front strikes in
spring. Wax myrtle is easy to grow, tolerating a wide range of conditions.

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NATURE’S BOUNTY FOR US
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Nature offers essential oils with potent properties that can be used in many
areas around the home. For health, bath, beauty, and household cleaning
supplies. Here’s our featured recipe for this issue:

STUFFED-UP WINTER NOSE & CHEST?
For some, winter brings the promise of stuffy sinuses and chest. Eucalyptus
and ginger are break up any congestion while lemon and orange harmonize and
balance body and mind.

6 slices fresh ginger [if you don’t have fresh ginger, you can skip this] 6 drops Eucalyptus oil
Juice of 1 lemon, squeezed into bathwater (or 3 drops Lemon oil)
3 drops Neroli (orange blossom) essential oil
Small muslin drawstring bag, large cheesecloth or wash rag if necessary Fill bag or cloth with the ginger toss in the tub to "brew" as it fills. Add other ingredients to bathwater.

Read more essential oil tips

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" GREEN" INFO- Making It a Way of Life!
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A MOUNTAIN OF TOSSED OYSTER SHELLS
Louisiana, which harvests about 250 million pounds of oysters a
year ˜ one-third of the nation’s output ˜ has no program to deal with the
mountain of shells it produces.

But fisheries officials are looking into recycling those shells and using
them to plant new oyster beds, a program that has been successful in other
states, notably South Carolina and Florida. – DEAD LINK REMOVED – Read more

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MUSINGS: POETRY & PROSE
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" Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast …
a part-time crusader,
a half-hearted fanatic.
Save the other half of yourselves
and your lives for pleasure and adventure."
— Ed Abbey, Author

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GOOD NEWS ABOUT OUR PLANET
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" EXTINCT" PLANT FOUND IN AUSTRALIA
The Wollemi Pine, a plant from Jurassic times which survived in a single
isolated Australian grove, is set for an amazing comeback. Like finding a
dinosaur. The species had been thought to have been extinct for at least
two million years. The only known examples were fossils 175 million years
old. Today, the trees’ home is a closely guarded secret. No roads lead to
the area. Even scientists studying them are blindfolded as they are flown in
by helicopter to the site. Read more

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