But the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours, -as the swinging of dumbbells or chairs ; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. – Henry David Thoreau
Every once in a while a coyote decides to remind me that I’m not the only one in the woods. He’ll leave a scat right in the middle of the trail, or better yet, at a trail crossing where I can’t miss it. I don’t know if he has me in mind when he does it, but I like to think he does, and I love the idea that a coyote thinks of me at all. Or maybe he just felt like having a crap.
Ah, spring. The wild leeks (allium tricoccum for you latin sticklers) are out in all their glory. Here in Monday Forest, they grow in thick patches under the mixed hardwoods on the south facing slope of the ridge which runs through the property. There are a lot of wild leeks here, as many as I could possibly eat or pickle, but other than the leaves I chew on as I walk, I harvest very few. I used to feel like I should be responsibly harvesting this bounty of nature, and preserving it for the rest of the year, to keep my locavore cred intact, but I think I’ll make a meal or two and perhaps a small jar of pickles and leave it at that. Yesterday, on the radio, I heard a call-in show about foraging wild foods. Someone called in and told of picking bushels of wild leeks every year. I cringed when I heard that, not just at the thought of cleaning all those ramps, but at the destruction of all those plants. Only very mature leeks flower and set seed, so pulling up the plant, root and all, is a sure way to reduce the population. I haven’t seen any last year’s flowers with their shiny black seeds this spring, which I normally do. At this time of year, they stand out against the bare ground. Perhaps last year’s freakishly early spring with the heat and drought had an effect.
Monday Forest is 50 acres on two adjacent parcels of land. Up until 40 years ago, cattle grazed here and ate all the young saplings. The two parcels were then sold to different owners and the forest has been allowed to grow up on both sides. Our property has had many owners over the years, and benign neglect is probably the best word to describe the forest-management style. Our neighbour purchased his property 40 years ago, and has actively managed the forest. He has thinned trees to give them room, cut some firewood, tapped the maples, and cleaned up windfallen and broken branches. His side has a neater look, but he has nowhere near the number of wild leeks that our side has. I get that this is purely anecdotal, and correlation is not causation and all that, but it does reinforce my notion that often doing Nothing is better than doing Something.
“What I like doing best is Nothing.”
“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
“Oh!” said Pooh.”
-A.A Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
It’s spring and a middle-aged woman’s fancy turns to blogging. This is a fresh start after blogging somewhere else at varying intensities for five years. I got rather bored with that blog, and life happened and I didn’t know what it was all about anymore. So after almost a year’s absence from the blogosphere, I’m back, slightly older and more foolish. I am still trying to create a decent life for myself and my family in this spot of forest and garden just outside a little town in Eastern Ontario.
I walk quite a bit in the little woods behind my house. When I walk, I sometimes notice pretty things, or ugly things, or signs that some other creature inhabits the space also. All this noticing makes me feel insignificant, or hulking, or awestruck, or annoyed and a lot of other things too. For some reason, I feel like sharing those feelings and observations with strangers on the internet. I hope we won’t be strangers for long.
At my old blog, I had a habit of slipping into rant mode from time to time, and I can’t promise I won’t do the same here. I hate it when I get all preachy, and especially when it sounds like I’m trying to tell people what they should do. Sometimes things just piss me off, though. So bear with me, and call me out if I start to sound like a high school vice-principal.
Things are a little bare around the blog right now. I plan to hang a few things on the walls and bring in some plants and a comfy chair and maybe even a facebook page too.