Ah… June.

What a great spring it has been so far, warm sunny days and remarkably mild night as well.  Kind of unusual to be able to sit out side, after sun down and not need a jacket and long pants!  I think it was just a couple of years ago when we had a horrible wet and cold spring. People were calling it June-uary.

Here on the coast things can change just like “that”, but hold on, let’s  not tempt the  gods to do just that,  we will leave it alone and be humble and thankful for the nice weather.

I was saying just last night how light it was out at 10 pm, as if it was a new and novel thing.  I have been experiencing the lengthening and shortening of days for 60+ years and yet, each year it is a wonder to me. Why? Our ancestors were very much aware of the seasons, especially those who left Africa and wandered north and then south, away from the equator. There the days are divided equally between day and night

Living at the extreme latitudes, things are different.  During the summer, the sun never sets and in the dead of winter, barely gets above the horizon.

This must have mystified and at the same time terrified  for our cousins with no science and no astronomy to understand why this happened .  To try to explain this occurrence, they developed belief systems. With those belief systems  they also developed rituals to insure the sun did come up.  If you preformed the rituals in the correct way at the proper time, the world wouldn’t end

The ancients also began to track the sun, and noticed that if you coincidentally planted crops at certain times of the sun’s cycle, they grew better. As well, when the sun was at another place in the sky, certain animals appeared on the tundra and birds in the sky, and not to forget certain mushrooms, both culinary and ones that helped you commune with the gods.

Good and bad, yen and yang, in the end it is all superstition, but they were connected to their world and to nature. Many of us aren’t connected to the land, so these annual celestial events don’t really mean very much. Once we step out of the city and into the woods, that primal experience is there and so is the wonder I suppose.

But I digress, I was suppose to be talking about mushrooms, so here I go.

Mushrooms… there are still oysters out there, many old, but today I found some young ones just starting…older oyster tree

Now all we need is a bit more rain and these little darlings will plump up real nicely.

Today, however, I was looking for other things to forage besides  mushrooms.  What? Other things? Yes… right now not much in the way of the fungi family is coming up and the prediction is for another hot and dry summer. This means if we get no rain in late summer, we may have slim pickens this fall. We many need some other things to flavour our meals as we wait out those long and dark winter days.

So, while you are out there looking, see what else you can bring home.

Most of you know who live here on the coast are well aware of the black berry which starts to show it’s beautiful dark blue-black fruit in late July or early August.  From those, you can make the best jams and jellies,but my favorite  is black berry wine.

There are also several other berries indigenous to the coastal forests, also delicious and very common.  Just now I am starting to see the Salmon berry starting to ripen. They come in two colours, a bright red cluster, the same colour as salmon eggs and a golden variety. No pictures yet, but later this month.

Also soon  to arrive will be the red huckleberry. We pick pounds of them and mix with raspberries or with red currents to make a beautiful crimson jelly.  Our Swedish son-in-law tells us they are similar in taste to the lingon berry found in Scandinavia.

There is also a blue huckleberry that my neighbour picks high in the coastal mountains.  She has a special “sercret” patch that she visits every year to pick these berries and makes fantastic pies out of.

A much under valued and I think delicious berry is the thimble berry. Again, my Swedish  son in-law nailed the taste… he describes it as tasting like rhubarb. Sweeter than rhubarb, but rhubarb.

Besides the berries there also wild herbs and plants, many medicinal and also very tasty.

Here is one of my favorites… watercress –DSCN1493

Delicious, peppery and fresh, used in a salad or to make a great green pesto as you wait for your basil to get big enough.

The other plant that is abundant, beautiful and  lovely to smell is the wild rose…june rose

Last week Chris picked a number of buds, like the one in the upper left corner of this picture.  She put them in a shallow bowl and as they slowly dried out, they gave up their beautiful perfume. Come the fall, and early winter the rose hips will be ready to pick and use to make jelly or dried and made into a tea.  Rose hips have incredible amounts of vitamin C, which prevents scurvy and is a great antioxidant.

That’s the flora, but this year it’s the fauna that I am also seeing more of, especially these guys..DSCN1494

I have seen more garter snakes this spring then I have since I was a kid in Saskatchewan. Anybody know if this is a good sign? Likely it is as reptiles and amphibians are very sensitive to environmental degradation, so to see a lot of them means things are pretty healthy in my neighborhood.

While cross a large clearing yesterday, I saw this heard of Roosevelt Elk

DSCN1499

I see quite a number of these all year round. They at first were not sure what to make of me, nor I of them, as there was a large buck in the group. I whistled and they put their heads back and trotted off into the woods. That’s a lot of organic, wild meat on the hoof there. I haven’t hunted since I was a kid, and don’t know if I have gotten too soft to “harvest” me one of these critters. ( interesting euphemism, to protect the sensitive).

I do have hunter friends and have no problem with them doing it, or me enjoying the steaks.  I will keep my harvesting to the fungi and botanical families for now.

But all is not well.  Yesterday, on my walk I also found something troubling and disgusting. Down this old trail, about a couple of kilometers from the main road, that was gated, I found this…DSCN1495

Four bags of used pink fiberglass insulation.  I also saw garbage bags chucked into the woods.  Illegal dumping! Be-spoiling the beauty of the wilderness.  I just don’t understand it.  How did they even get it there? On the back of a quad?

I have checked my last few year’s diaries and it seems that what should be coming up this month are some of the agarics, such as the prince, as well as an the shaggy grey parasol. I am forever hopeful!

Good hunting to you and hope to run into in the woods some times.

 

 

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