Tuesday, April 28, 2009

· Wild Raspberries & Thimbleberries

Our homemade award-winning Wild Raspberry Jam (pic below) will appear on the Bed and Breakfast table in the morning, along with a German flat bread called flumkuchen, on which our guests may enjoy the jam. In the taller jar are thimbleberries, picked last season, with their bright color suspended in dried form. In this region, the elusive thimbleberry grows only in the northern Black Hills under particular conditions, and they ripen only one or two at a time in the berry cluster, very inconvenient for pickers from the central Black Hills. 

On account of this lapse of thoughtfulness on the part of the thimbleberry, we are not able to collect enough of them for a standard batch of jam ... but possibly enough for a few quarter-pints of seedless jam, hoarded for the delectable destiny of being a rare ingredient in the ganache of homemade dark chocolate truffles. Raspberries and thimbleberries, both, have multitudinous seeds. Truffles don't like seeds. Therefore, the seeds are strained out and discarded before the jam is made, so they will have no chance to jump into the ganache.  :)

Wild Raspberry Jam - with seeds

Through the soft snow of spring the wild crocus peeks . . .
Summer, in the sunset of wild raspberries, we reap . . .
The crisp fall leaves tell of neighbors in the forest deep . . .
And winter quiets the thoughts of everything that breathes.

Copyright © 2007-09 - Linda L. Brown

Monday, April 27, 2009

· April - Practice Month

April, 2009 has been a wet month, mostly snow. Pactola Lake is bulging again, after a long drought. Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a beautiful spring drive along Deerfield Road. We backed out of a side road, when the snowy tracks treacherously narrowed. Sam helped some stranded folks push their vehicle out of the ditch. Nonetheless, we ventured down another side road and stuck with it, though it was quite soggy in places. The scenery was pristine, and the big bonus was getting to see a herd of elk. 

This spring we reserved four weekends, beginning end of March, for personal guests in our B&B suites. We didn't tell them they were practice guineas, unless we made a boo boo. The first weekend was a slumber party, celebrating the two birthdays and one retirement of two friends. The focus was on healthy foods and a brisk walk on the Mickelson Trail, and cake :) Easter weekend, friends drove over 150 miles to attend Sunrise Service at Mount Rushmore with us. Actually, we attended with them—It was their idea to get up that early. But it was worth it! - The next weekend several of my high school friends drove many more miles for a blast from the past, including a reverie with old 45 records. Sam was kept entertained by our hmmm unusual behavior all weekend. Aside from reverting to our teen years, we indulged in some normalcy, such as taking a nice long walk along the Mickelson Trail, and enjoying a scenic drive to Keystone for a little shopping, and discussing seriously interesting topics, such as our faith and nutrition. But mostly we were a little crazy, Sam says. - Then, this last Friday night we had more fun, more healthy food and amiable conversations with three other good-natured friends who ventured out in stormy weather to spend the night. They didn't mind being guineas either. Nor did we—as we felt like guests here, too, all the month of April. Thank you, friends!

Sam has been making great progress on constructing our third guest suite. Now that the worst of the dust has settled, it is time to devote some energy to rounding it up. But some energy will be reserved for taking refreshing walks in the forest during this beautiful season teeming with meadowlarks, mountain bluebirds, redwing blackbirds, Canadian geese, ducks and...aaahhhh...the first wildflowers of the year, crocuses (pasque flowers), the South Dakota State Flower.

Monday, April 20, 2009

· George S. Mickelson Trail

Rain or shine . . .
The kind of happiness stirred up by the deep and high beauty of the wilderness Black Hills, by the pure invigorating freshness of it, can also be enjoyed along a more even plane. Whether out for casual walking with your friends (see mine above), or for brisk hiking or running, or for breezy bicycling . . . these are all much loved activities of all ages, all along the 112 plus miles of the easily accessible George S. Mickelson Traila trails from rails project, which gave the late 1800's railbed new purpose. The highly acclaimed Mickelson Trail can be enjoyed from Deadwood of the northern Black Hills to Edgemont of the southwestern foothills. The splendor of towering cliffs, granite mountains, crisp streams, wild flowers and wildlife along the way is only matched by the fragrance of pine-scented air which rejuvenates the lungs and refreshes the beating heart. 

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast, Hill City, is in the Central Black Hills, along the Mickelson Trail. Bicycles can be rented within a few blocks of the B&B. An added luxury for our Trail guests is that Mountains To Prairies is within easy walking distance of everything Hill City offers. Historic downtown provides a pleasing array of delicious foods, fine art and specialty shops, such as Jon Crane Art Gallery and Black Hills Institute of Geological Research (Everything Prehistoric Gift Shop); and the community has several nearby church denominations, which welcome visitors to participate in Sunday Worship Service or Saturday/Sunday Mass. 

Going north-northwest of Hill City along the Mickelson Trail, one may catch glimpses of traces of 1880 cabins or other evidence of once vibrant life, and one may hear the distant chuggings of the popular present-day 1880 Train like as if they were the pulses of energy and enthusiasm spent by the hopefuls who dwelt here . . . working such mines as the King Solomon, the Bengal Tiger and Lucky Tiger. About 7 miles out is the site of Redfern, showing very little but the skeleton of a vintage railroad car.

Railroad Bed Rememberings
Nostalgic sighs may resonate with the leaning pines
gently sweeping sounds through the heart and soul and mind
even involving those curiously passing by
who have no dim memory of such rugged ragged times.
Copyright (c) 2009 - Sam and Linda Brown

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

· Easter Sunrise Service at Mount Rushmore

Click on the Mt. Rushmore plate for an interesting slideshow of the 04.12.09 Easter Sunrise Service held at our National Memorial.

We attended this beautiful service with a visiting family of four.

Friday, April 10, 2009

· Pretzel Donk of Custer State Park

Now, that is a horse of a different foible ...
Well, not exactly a horse,
but this wild burro had enough of a weakness for pretzels
to drop his camera shyness for a handout.
(Actually, the burros are not really camera shy.
 They are extremely persistent about taking care of themselves
... which can make for chaotic photo-shooting, and a lot of fun!)
We met this handsome fella in Custer State Park
along the Wildlife Loop.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

· Welcome to the Blog Spot of
Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast

bed and breakfast hospitality lodging
hill city, central black hills, south dakota
near mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- black hills playhouse near center lake
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques
- all things bright and beautiful

If you were to vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota, what would be the most important part of your adventure? Would it be the local food, such as bison; would it be Mount Rushmore; hiking in the forest; climbing the towering granite rocks; fishing in the mountain streams and lakes; backpacking; caving; touring the beautiful scenic highways; enjoying the culture and art of the area; visiting Crazy Horse Mountain Carving; thinking, seeing, breathing and doing something different . . . What is important to you?