Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring Ahead?

I awoke this morning thinking it was nearly 08:00 a.m.  It is unusual for me to sleep so late, but I didn't think anything of it.  As I walked into the kitchen to feed the animals, I realized that my alarm clock was wrong.  Perhaps, it had adjusted for daylight savings according to the pre-Bush rules.  It was really just before 07:00 a.m.  Looking back on the weekend, it seems a fitting analogy for my MooseBoots endeavors.

A month or so ago, Wendy was speaking with her Mom about some books that had been sent to us. Several of the titles were written by Wendy's Aunt, Connie Krochmal, who it turns out was a fairly prolific writer back in the 70s.  She wrote "A Field Guide To Medicinal Plants", which I gave away last month, and many more.  Among the stacks received was a copy of "A naturalist's guide to cooking with wild plants."  When Wendy realized it was there, she got very excited about expanding our foraging efforts using the book as a guide.  I have really wanted to step up our efforts and, so, heartily agreed.  Who knows, this summer's fun may be the basis for Wendy's next book.

On Saturday, we made some time to wander through the woods behind the house.  We took a basket and some scissors hoping that there might be some spring edibles to gather.  And while we came home with an empty basket and a full day's worth of fire wood, the entirety of we found was incredible.  It was so amazing that I ran the camera out of battery power.  I took 46 picture of all of the new growth after initially thinking that it would be a bust.

It began while entering the field, I noticed the green shoots of grass peeking up through last years dead stalks.  These are the same stalks that I used last year to make a rope to carry the bundle of stinging nettles back to the house.  Of course, showing the new growth tends to be difficult with a camera, so I had to think of it from a different angle.  Here is the result.

We were really hoping to catch the knotweed shoots and dandelion greens to eat.  It turns out it is still little early for these things.  I was, however, in for a big surprise when I got to the area where we had harvested the knotweed roots and stalks last year.  The stand sits adjacent to the patch of stinging nettles we identified last year.  Here is what I found.

All of the green is, you guessed it, Stinging Nettles.  I called Wendy over, excited to share my discovery, while she was, just as enthusiastically, beckoning for me to come see what she had found (deer nibbles on young staghorn sumac bushes).  There is so much happening in this wonderful place this early in the season.  We wandered the field looking at all of the green shoots, identifying plants that we knew, and discussing those we were unsure of.  In all, we found about 18 different species of we knew during our hour long stroll.  And, we found another equally large sized patch of stinging nettles to gather from.

And so, for the analogy, it was not as late as we thought, but it is early enough to really appreciate the changes happening all around us.  The woods still offer us an abundance of things that we need, including a huge pile of firewood foraged during a second visit today.  I am so grateful to have been blessed with this growing awareness to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me, and to have the opportunity to work with nature to heal some small piece of this planet, and myself, in the process.

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