Monday, August 11, 2008

"100" -- Eat It (Wild)

47. There are lots of people growing gardens around here with PEPPERS in them. But I can't very well go bopping into neighbors' yards with my camera. So when I saw this ornamental pepper plant at the library, I snapped a picture of it.

48. ELDER can be used for all sorts of things. There are medicinal uses, but I prefer just making jelly from the berries. Or if you happen to be a teenage boy, you might need to try to make yourself an elder-wand from the woody part of the shrub. But you would find the middle of the wood so soft as to be almost entirely useless as a wand or a stick. However, you would also discover the hollow core which would be the perfect place to put thestral hair...

49. A couple of years ago we were hiking up near Baraboo with some good friends. I'd been tending GRAPE vines in my backyard for years, pruning, watering, weeding, harvesting, and then jelly-making. Out hiking, in early October, we ran across a wild grape vine. I stopped Maggie and asked her identify the plant. She knew. Of course! It was grapes. She knew the leaves, the vines, the tendrils, and the fruit. So we picked a couple of grapes, popped them into our mouths, and kept on going. Just then, Kathy came around the bend in the trail and saw us eating something from the wild. She was sure we were going to die!!! I kept trying to point out to her that I wasn't eating something unknown. It was grape. I knew grape vines! But she wasn't convinced, and she wasn't about to let her daughter even think about eating one of those berries from the wild. Which is, granted, a good policy. You never never never never never eat what you don't know for sure is safe. (Willy Whitefeather tells how to figure out what is safe and what isn't if you're stuck in the wild and need food. But it's a procedure that will take at least several hours, and possibly more than a day.) I remember thinking that day that I must've learned something from those many years of tending my berries and vines. I may not know too much about gardening, but I do know the canes and vines I worked with; grape leaves (and the whole plant) is so distinctive that I can't imagine not recognizing it.

50. This is hard to find in the roadside grasses when it's first coming up in spring. I could never figure out how people knew where to hunt for asparagus along country roads. Every May we used to see people wading through knee-high grasses, with their knives, hunting for those little spears of ASPARAGUS popping up down by their ankles. But once I learned to recognize asparagus in summer and fall, it was easy to understand how people could make note of the location, and show up the following spring with their buckets and knives to nab some tasty veggies for dinner. The cornfield that's a half-mile from here has a lovely, lush row of asparagus dividing it from the soybeans in the next field. It looks like it's growing wild, and it looks like the land-owners probably don't bother with that patch. And I'm coveting it.... But I will be a good girl and plant my own, and in the meantime take any surplus asparagus that anybody at church wants to pass out!

1 comment:

  1. That ornamental pepper plant looks a lot like the Fiesta peppers in our garden(which I'm afraid to try but which I'm sure dh will when he gets home from his travels).