Roaring Brook Falls, on the Mt. Toby reservation in Montague, MA. These icicles taste of moss and mineral salt.
Porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum. This guy lives on Graves Farm Reservation, the northwest side, where there is a maybe 100 foot deep ravine that has tons of broken rock and moss all up its sides. I love that ravine–I swim in the stream at the bottom sometimes–and I have met this porcupine there often. He never seems to like me any better, but he’s slow.
He is my mascot of the moment. Prickly!
Fiddleheads are actually the immature young curled-up tops of Ostrich fern, Matteuccia struthiopteris, so-called because the fronds look like ostrich feathers when full-grown.
I found these on the Long Trail ridge in central Vermont at about 2,500 feet elevation, in rocky soil among hemlock, beech and gray birch. They are 2 to 4 inches high, and the fiddle part is about 1 inch in diameter. They grow inside a fibrous brown casing, which you’re supposed to submerge in water and scrub off before eating. I tried some as they were, picked right from the trailside (which apparently you’re not supposed to do—carcinogens bah) and they were quite tasty, like a lemony spinach, though the brown stuff made them somewhat scratchy going down. I also had some for dinner the other night, steamed, then sauteed in butter and garlic. After cooking they lose some of the citrus flavor and become nuttier.
If you’re going to pick fiddleheads for eating, by the way, los eeenternets inform me that it’s best for the plants if you only pick 2 or 3 fiddles from each, so as not to damage the population for the future. You can see in my picture that there are five little fiddles in a bunch—apparently, underground they all come from one plant. I picked two, the tallest ones, and left the others alone.
Sandy upland forest, mixed hemlock and beech.
I hear there are forty different fern species native to Western Mass. I do not own a fern book as yet. But here’s a big old list of latin names and undecipherable plant anatomy vocab if you’re interested.
I would like to note that this is the most in-focus picture I’ve ever taken of a detailed tiny thing. Satisfying!
Found this in my garden this morning, cradled by the bare earth in a gentle indentation between the rosemary and basil: a robin’s egg, whole and unharmed, fallen out of a clear sky.
Certain spiritual philosophers I know would classify such an event as an omen, a portent. A message of wisdom, timely and explicit, left for me by the universe. But if such is the case, I have to admit I can’t decipher it, beyond the obvious: creativity, fecundity, the divine spark. Go forth, Mr. DeLuca, and multiply. Water the tomatoes. Pull weeds. Nurture love. Share knowledge. Write fiction.
What shall we say, and shall we call it by a name
As well to count the angels dancing on a pin
Water bright as the sky from which it came
And the name is on the earth that takes it in
We will not speak but stand inside the rain
And listen to the thunder shout
I am, I am, I am, I am
—John Perry Barlow, Weather Report Suite
Thanks, god. I’m on it.
A hoop-shaped vine, somewhere off-trail in Graves Farm Audubon Sanctuary, Haydenville, MA. These vines tend to get me in trouble. Whenever I run into one, I am compelled to try to leap and swing off it. Half the time they don’t hold my weight. I took this lying on the ground. Got a mosquito bite right in the ear for it too!
A little altar I found on an island in Dead Branch Pond, Chesterfield, MA. Found a kickass beaver-chewed staff there too, seven feet long, tooth marks all over it, weighed like ten pounds. I left it leaning against the trail post adjacent rte 143. If you know somebody looking for a staff.
The planters’ moon, reminding me to buy seedlings.
The apple tree in my backyard, on a 16 second exposure, same night as the full moon. This is going on my computer background.