A Mushroomy Day

Today was a golden day.  The spend all day outside walking about golden honey warm sort of day where everything glows.  The sit by the creek and play with leaves, make fairy homes with twigs, hickory shells, acorns and moss kind of day that comes out of the blue sky as surprising as the unexpected chirrrr of Kingfisher flying over the pond in search of fish.  The kind of day that mushrooms and the next thing you know there’s mushrooms popping out everywhere, some edible, some really pretty in an intoxicating way best left to brownies and gnomes who know best what to do with them during their festivities gathered around in rings.  Today was a day where the trees didn’t speak much nor did the wind sing, but the earth was wreathed with smiles and cushiony places to sit and share in her graces.  Today was a golden day evoking wonder and gratitude.

 

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gathering time

creek

The gathering time is here again,

To gather with our plant friends deeply drawing in their smells

While they breathe in ours . . .

The sharing time is here again,

To share with our plant friends a smile, a laugh, a touch, a listening

While they speak for hours . . . .

I love this time of year when the smell of propolis is strong up above the spring, mixed with pine, and we’re stopping in meadows, sun streaming over us and our feet go cool into the creek and there, there there is water mint, sweet and refreshing to be with.  Sitting for a while, awareness sharpens, bee sounds are suddenly loud and then become part of the in breath, out breath, woodpecker hello!  There’s a lilting voice and a chatter mixed in with a squeal every now and then, part of the cadence, the new rythym since our arrival, the old makes way for us, generously giving space to life and we join in, doing our water dance in the creek, while a trout darts by a few times and the ants go back to doing what they’ve been doing long before we came . . . .

It’s *that* time of year but it’s not the same even though it’s *that* time, a funny thing this wheel turning us around or are we turning it around or neither nigh-ther . . . . last year we gathered baskets of juicy chickweed and cleavers catching on our clothes, furry burdock leaves, comfrey stalk, flower, and leaf . . . not this year at that time, instead we go play in the fields of fresh blooming red clover blossoms before they’re moved down after which their sweet smell lingers on and we taste it in the milk from the farm on that side of the valley below, and while we gather the clovers sing to us to pick the ones the bees leave, the bee kissed ones, so we do, and we take them back to tincture, to dry, to steep in honey for green mead in the autumn, to infuse oil, and in queen of hungary’s water (to which i’ve added peach and strawberry leaves, chamomile, comfrey, and a mixture of fresh rose petals) . . .  is it even the queen’s water anymore!?

happily we leave much of it to the bees and turn homeward, to motherwort.  she’s so stately this year: tall, filled out and bushy and lightly flowering on top though the bumble bees haven’ t found her yet . . . once they’ve worked her over, then the heat dries her to yellow from the inside out and she looks half baked, parched, spent, changed.  but at this moment she’s in her full glory and whispers of how she can help me later in those long, sunnless days when my temper grows inside me like thunder coiled up keeping me hot when it’s so cold all around, snake rising rising energy that can be spent, discharged in useless words and anger, leaving me parched, half baked, or stored where it becomes an internal heater during the hibernation time yet a challenge to keep in check, so motherwort says she’ll help me with that part and into a jar she goes . . .. yes it’s *that* time of year yet it’s not . . . .

What lies ahead, I wonder, as I watch small hands gather beside me and notice with a start that some of those hands are no longer small but the size of my own, a woman’s hands, and rounding the bend a truck slows down to a crawl and the driver’s a young fella who honks and lifts his hat and smiles and winks and his gaze is upon my daughter, who picks blossoms with care, dagger tucked in her waistband, a warrior, a maiden, no damsel in distress her eyes flash and her nostrils flare as though she’s aware with her flashing skirts, barefeet, and basket of flowers the picture she makes in the green green grasses!  The wheel turns and turns and I plunge the dasher, churning churning, turning turning all that cream into butter . . . .

sweet

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Violet’s here . . .

vi
hand full of violets

Well, we know it’s spring because the bloodroot has come and gone and trillium speckles the slopes.  Violets are dotting the grasses, their heart shaped leaves beckoning us to take a nibble.  The leaves always taste cooling to me and wet, while the flowers have a peppery bite to them.  And the sight of them lifts my spirits up, up toward the sky.  The children went on a walk this morning to look for morels and came back with a basket of violet flowers instead.  We usually make violet syrup with such gatherings when violet’s are out in hearty profusion, which is good for coughs, colds, and headaches though it goes pretty fast in our house as a soothing, sweet tasting syrup.  We use this process and these proportions:

To every one cup of violet blossoms, 1 cup of boiling water

Pack the violet blossoms in a jar and top with the boiling water.  Infuse overnight.  Strain the blossoms and put the tea in a pot.  Boil for ten minutes.  Turn off the heat and add 1 cup of honey per cup of liquid.  Mix well, cool, pour into jars and store.

This year I followed the same proportions to infuse the blossoms but instead of straining them, I put the blossoms and tea into a blender along with the honey and made a smooth slurry.  This has been bottled and put in the fridge . . . .  a tablespoon mixed with a cup of cold water and a squeeze of lemon is very refreshing, though I intend to blend more violets into this ‘base’ over the season, play with it and see how thick will it get . . ..

For now we shall nibble on violets in the field and once the lilacs bloom, from under their branches where they grow clustered in the cool, damp earth and grow right on up into the heat of summer when they get covered by bishops weed for the rest of the season and the remaining leaves become a bit too dry for our tastes . . . . perhaps the bunnies like them then?  If you set out to make some, keep our furry friends in mind, leave them lots behind!

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The Gift of Rain

Well it’s been raining a lot all summer and that has sent the zucchini, squash, and tomatoes into the compost heap; a bit sooner than expected.  Pulled out all the onions before they joined their friends in the compost . . . . . . .  they are now drying nicely in the shed.  Then we walked down the driveway to check the mail, and sharp little eyes spotted cinnamon chanterelles growing on the creek bank.  Whooot!  So we got the mail and made a paper bag with the junk mail to gather a few of the mushrooms in.  Walked home, left the mail there, and followed the creek into the woods to look for more, and more we found.  To our delight, we discovered that the rain has left behind a gift:  chanterelle’s that are fruiting prolifically and laccaria ochropurpurea a.k.a purple-gilled laccaria.  We all prefer the mushrooms over what went into the compost, so one door closes and the other opens, making for new morsels to taste, as the wheel turns.

On the menu . . . wild edibles

Today I planted onions and harvested marshmallow roots (only way to describe the taste is earthy and mellow) and rhubarb all alone.  The children have been stuffed up over the past four days . . . with the exception of Girl, who pretends during the course of the day that she too is stuffy and changes into her nightie to go and rest before emerging full dressed in day clothes to go and check eggs since she’s ‘well’.  The other three have taken to their rooms, where they are plied with wildweed broth, rosehip ‘jam’, marshmallow roots, violet paste, napkins, and Asterix comic books.  The season is abundant with healing foods, so I’ve been busy infusing, cooking, decocting, and wildcrafting, between feeding and reading The Book of Three to the children.

There is so much one can do with plants.  I’ve been working with a few of these recently: namely chickweed, burdock, comfrey, dandelion, and nettles.  A few things that I’ve been doing with them, in addition to nibbling on chickweed, violets, and cleavers while on walks  . . . .

The dandy-lion leaves have been sauteed in oilve oil with garlic and a splash of balsamic.  I like it even more with burdock leaves mixed in, young smallish burdock  leaves.  The children eat these with mincing expressions and exclamations about how ‘sour’ it is . . . . interesting that they find it sour rather than bitter even without the balsamic.  I like the bitter and find the undertone sweetish myself.

I gathered some baskets together and returned with chickweed, coltsfoot leaves, nettle tops, garlic mustard, and violets.  Everything except the violets went into a pot with dried astragalus root slices, minced garlic, one chopped onion, and a few handsful of chopped lovage.  Filled the pot with water and cooked it into a wildweed soup, which was salted and had beaten eggs stirred into it.  With amino acids, it is extremely tasty and it’s yummy without any too.  We’re still eating this as I made quite a bit.

The violets, leaves and flowers, went into a small grinder with water to cover and a bit of lemon juice, then whizzaway until it became a paste.  I added honey to this and it is deliciously refreshing . . .  the raw flowers have a spicy bite to them that I always feel in my throat, a good kind of bite, and the purple flowers, while smaller, seem more potent to taste than the white; we all enjoy a teaspoon or two during the day.

Another thing I’ve been doing with the burdock leaves, chickweed, and dandelion flowers is wilting them overnight on a screen then putting them into their own jars.  Warm olive oil is poured over top, till just about to the rim, and they’re sleeping for six weeks in the dark, after which they’ll be strained, splashed with brandy, and stored to make into salves, balms, creams, etc.  Have done the same with comfrey leaves, and I may try it with the nettles too.  I particularly enjoy using dandelion oil on my aching hands after a day of weeding, digging, and planting.  Feels sooooo good!