Friday, September 14, 2018

When it's okay to be a Lady Camel!

Last Sunday morning, I took part in a "Wild Edible Plants" hike with our local environmental group. They did a hike in the spring, but of course, there's a different 'crop' in the woods now. And with Fall fast approaching here in Newfoundland, we only have another month before things will begin to die off quickly. 

It was a beautiful morning and about a dozen people showed up. We began with a little show-and-tell lesson on the various wild plants that we can find anywhere in NL such as: 

Plantain:  The young leaves can be eaten raw, and the seeds can be dried and ground into meal or flour -- good to know for when the apocalypse comes [AND the only time I'd ever try this]. As well, you can chew the leaves and apply the spittle as a poultice that is good for burns or stings.

Also, apparently wherever you live and whatever pests, bugs and/or irritants you have around you, you will also find the remedy nearby in nature! There's a fine, hairy leaved thistle here in NL that burns and stings if you touch it; the pain can last all day and over the counter creams, etc do little to quell the pain. But growing next to this thistle is usually Plaintain; and this will immediately take away the burning and pain. Mother Nature provides all that we need!

Pearly Everlasting:  This pretty little plant always reminded me of wild chamomile but when compared, I can easily see the difference. The young leaves and plant of Pearly Everlasting can be cooked and eaten.           

Clover: This is a pretty versatile plant. The flowers themselves are very tasty; you can pull out the 'fronds' of the flower and add them to your salads. Any part of the above ground plant can be eaten raw. And the creeping roots and stems can be cooked. However, one site I check out says not to eat in the Fall as it contains more alkaloids and can cause bloating. (At my age, I'm well familiar with that problem!)

And this is Newfoundland's "Crackerberry" plant, otherwise known as a Bunchberry. It's rather tasteless and kind of spongy but harmless; we used to eat them all the time as children. I was pleased to find out that the berries contain a lot of pectin and can be dried, ground and added to jams and jellies to help them gel. The berries can also be lightly chewed and pressed over a burn as a poultice.

We discussed a few other plants and bushes. But for most of us, the real jewels of the day were the wild mushrooms.

This is a Coral Mushroom. White to soft yellow in color, these are pretty, frilly little things and are extremely fragile. So, it was suggested that they be added to a dish once the dish was cooked and just before serving.

And these are Chanterelles. (My Ex loved them but they didn't grow where we lived in NS so I never got to try them.) These are quite small and dainty looking, but Chanterelles can be much bigger. There are lots of recipes online for this much sought-after wild mushroom. 

After the workshop, a few of us walked along the river trail until we met up with the Yogi Trail, about a 2 km hike. It was a warm, sunny day and a good opportunity for us to search for more edible plants. 

I really enjoyed myself. But although I don't think I know enough to ever eat wild mushrooms, I loved the information about the healing properties of these plants. 

You can bet that from now on, I'll be chewing and spitting as needed in my own back yard! 

Happy weekend everyone. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Staycation Joys!

My last week of August and into September, I took time off and enjoyed a great "staycation". I did lots of walking, a little hiking and a lot of little side trips to pretty locales. My house is clean and organized; and I returned to work fresh and rejuvenated.

One of my favorite hikes (and also the most challenging this year) was the Alexander Murray Trail. I'd been wanting to do this hike for over a year; and my daughter and I decided to do it together and make a day of it. She wore her FitBit which recorded a total of 9 km (return). The site also says that we climbed 350 m and walked a total of 2,200 steps. Yes, that's right: 2,200 steps! 

Needless to say, we took our time, made lots of stops. My favorite of these stops was halfway up: there was a slight detour (32 steps) down to part of the Corner Brook Stream. We were hot and sweaty and beginning to feel the climb. So, we stopped for a snack and a wee dip in the icy cold water of the gorge. 

Then rested and refreshed, we finished the climb to the top where we ate lunch. 
We made it! 

The views were spectacular!

The climb back down was just as difficult (and just as pretty). 

My poor knees! But what a climb! 4 hours after we'd begun, we reached the bottom. And we were more than ready ready for a wee reward before going out to dinner together.

So, we drove into Springdale, picked up some light and non-alcoholic beer and headed to Glassy Beach, a little known treasure of a place. We did the short hike through the woods with a beverage each and sat on the tiny, beach-glass covered beach and listened to the waves and the occasional sound of a crow or gull. It was magic! And everywhere you dug you hand, you came up with beach glass.

T'was a grand day! I will probably never do this hike again, but I'm ever so glad I got to experience it this once. 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Bountiful Season

It's becoming that time of the year: the time of great bounty. I picked raspberries last weekend (and only ate about half a dozen while I picked ---- a huge improvement on other years). 

AND while at the farm, I picked up a big bag of cucumbers for only $10:  enough for 2 batches of bread and butter pickles.

The Ontario peaches have arrived and are particularly sweet and tasty. But so far, I've been too busy gorging myself on them to bottle any. Soon!

I begin my 'staycation' tomorrow and am more excited than is proper at my age. (Soooo lacking in decorum!) Let's see what the next week or so will bring.

I hope your life is bountiful where you are.


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Passing of Summer

August is going by so quickly and summer is flashing before my eyes as we speak (type?).

Earlier this month, I spent a few days with my brother at his cabin. Oddly, most residents don't spend summer weekends at the cabin;  they travel around the province and go to the cabin in winter! Well, that was fine with me as it was so peaceful and quiet. It was warm but overcast on this late Saturday morning; so after our huge brunch, Bob suggested we take the rubber boats out on the pond. Sure, I thought! I'd love to learn to row.

Well, perhaps others have what it takes, but I certainly didn't! Try as I might, rowing was not to be added to my list of accomplishments. My arms and hands didn't want to work in conjunction with one another; so I spent quite a bit of time going round in circles until my brother took pity on me, attached a line and rowed me to the other side before setting me free to make my own way back. I did eventually make it back to the other side, but little of my rowing was in a straight line. I zig zagged back and forth, stopping periodically to laugh at myself and refuel from my bag of almonds and juice pack as it took longer than was probably necessary! 

It was so lovely on the water! Just the sound of Bob's oars slipping in and out of the water and the occasional loon or woodpecker, the tranquility only broken by the sploshing and splatting my own oars like some drunken, anxious beaver! 

Back onshore, we changed into dry clothes (bums always get wet in rubber dingies). Then we took the radio out on the deck to listen to any Newfie's favorite Saturday radio program, "Big Tom's Shed". They play hits of the 70's and 80's; they also take song request calls from people around the province which can make for a lot of funny calls and a lot of laughs. Then just as we finished pouring a cold, frothy brew, the sunshine came out from behind a cloud as if to say "Sit. Relax. Enjoy."

There we were, sitting in our deck chairs overlooking the calm of the lake, sipping a much needed cold one, deliciously tired after our exertions, the sun warming our now-dry bodies and the dulcet sound of Neil Young's "Sugar Mountain" began to play. It was pure magic! One of those moments that I purposely ear marked.

"THIS is what life is all about", I thought. "Moments like these are what make life worth living; simple pleasures!"

Get out there and enjoy summer before it leaves again!

Footnote: This took place 3 weeks ago, but both my hands and wrists are suffering from terrible arthritis pain now after my feeble attempts at rowing. Sometimes, it's maybe better NOT to try something new. Oh well! C'est la vie! This too shall pass.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Happy August!

I hope that August finds you 'in the pink'....
but maybe not quite this literal.

Rabbit đŸ° Rabbit đŸ° everyone

Monday, July 30, 2018

Gros Morne National Park

I'm so fortunate to live just a 1.5 hr drive from Gros Morne National Park. I've done many day visits, but this was the first time I'd actually camped there. My Nova Scotia sister and her family were visiting which more than doubled my enjoyment.

Kim and family were there for a whole week, and I got to stay with them for 4 of the 7 days. In spite of most days being a mixture of sun and clouds coupled with periodic showers, it didn't dampen our enthusiasm and joy at being together in such an amazing setting. Gros Morne is spectacularly beautiful and rugged with 'umpteen' trails and walks. At our age, we mainly stayed on the easy trails with the most challenging being a 9.5 mostly flat walk to Baker Brook Falls. 
It was the perfect time to hike Baker Brook Falls as most of the wild flowers were at their peak: Beginning at the top left and going in a clockwise direction, we had Devil's Paintbrush, fields full of wild Iris, many Pitcher Plants (NL's provincial flower), Cow Parsnip (I think) and the most amazing wild Orchids. The boardwalk wound its way through meadow, forest and 'tuckamore' until we began to first hear and then see the falls. It was a warm, muggy day, and dipping our toes in the icy water at the end was a treat. 
Clarence improvised
when there was no
room on the bench
to rest.
We visited Norris Point and took a short hike overlooking the bay. While enjoying the scenery in Norris Point, a large black luxury SUV stopped, rolled down the window and casually chatted with us about the weather and how nice it is to be able to visit occasionally. "Was that a friend of yours?" Kim asked me. "Oh! That was Mr Dwight Ball, the premier of Newfoundland." I replied. "Jeeze!" said Kim. "You have connections!" Hahahaha.

We drove around Bonne Bay to the other side and lunched in pretty Woody Point; then continued on that side past the stunning Tablelands where you can walk upon the earth's mantle. We stopped at the end of the line at Trout River and took a short hike up 136 stairs to take pictures.

Kim's favorite spot was Rocky Harbour, just 10 min from our campgrounds. It's not just cute and picturesque, but it has a grocery and liquor store and lots of great cafes and quirky souvenir shops. We ate breakfast there at Java Jack's: everything is home made and absolutely delicious! Then we followed that with a walk on the beach collecting beach glass for Jessie's collection. That afternoon, we drove down the coast road a little looking for more sandy beaches (very difficult to find in NL). We found a couple of boulder and driftwood strewn beaches (very easy to find in NL), and gave our legs and butt a good workout "walking" them and collecting other treasures. 

My driftwood dragon has built-in
scales and is sitting on an
enormous white egg (rock) w/
beautiful Sea Heather, colorful
spotted rocks as well as (my
favorites) heart-shaped rocks.

We played many, many games of cards -- Auction 45's and Cribbage being our favorites -- and laughed and reiminised about our younger days. 
And as our last night together round the fire was a special one, we drank Newfie beer and tossed on some 'magic crystals' so the fire was extra special too. 
It was a wonderful vacation.