Adventure in the Woods

Pink Ladyslippers

Pink Ladyslippers

I was outside when the sun was too high, so I hope you enjoy the subjects of the photos. The pictures themselves aren’t great.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

This was the first ladyslipper I found.

I suppose first I’ll tell you the adventure part, as the photos are pretty self-explanatory. I set out toward the back of our property, heading toward the area that is the best mushroom habitat around, by a little steep-banked creek. I never made it that far. There were many blowdowns, thick underbrush, hills and a steep ravine. I didn’t make it back that far, either!

Another double ladyslipper.  In this shot you can see a little of the flower's interior.

Another double ladyslipper. In this shot you can see a little of the flower’s interior.

I did make it a few hundred steeply sloped feet. I found several varieties of LBM’s (little brown mushrooms) that the experts have difficulty identifying. I also found a couple of medium tan-colored mushrooms that I intended to try to identify when I got back to the house. And several tiny orange mushrooms that looked a little chanterellish, but it’s way too early for them. They went in my bag to identify, too.

(But — pink ladyslippers are blooming! They were my consolation prize.)

Anyway, I got very tired and out of breath, so decided I’d better head (uphill) home. I climbed one little ridge, and that was it. I sat down on a thick cushion of forest duff and hyperventilated for a while.

Yu can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage.  (Pardon the dirty fingernails... it happens when I grub around outside!  :)

You can see how soft and downy the young bull thistle flower stalks are at this stage. (Pardon the dirty fingernails… it happens when I grub around outside! 🙂

I was going to stay there until I recuperated, but then I heard some of the dogs that run free around here sounding like they were fighting. That REALLY scared me, so I bushwacked over blowdowns, greenbrier, blackberry bushes, sapling trees… until I couldn’t go any farther.

This time I found a nice log to sit on. I beat on it with my hiking pole and prodded around to make sure there were no nasty critters under it, sat down, and the log cracked and sent me tumbling.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

The bull thistle flower stalks after scraping.

So I phoned Ron and told him where I was and asked him to bring me my inhaler. After using that, I felt better. And after resting a while, we made it home.

Exhausted, I threw the mushrooms I had planned to identify in the trash, too tired to mess with them, and crashed for a long nap.

So, apparently the COPD is getting worse… which means stick to easy trails and always carry my inhaler.

Before I headed into the woods I saw a couple of bull thistles with flower stalks and unopened flowers. At this stage the prickly flower stalks are downy and can be easily held with bare fingers.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

Wild strawberries are blooming.

I had them in my mushroom basket, so did put them into the refrigerator before I crashed.

When I got up, it was an easy job to scrape the down off the flower stalks and pop them in the pan with my chicken stew. At this young stage they have a very mild celery flavor, and they didn’t add anything to the dish I was cooking except fun.

When the stalks get older, they get prickly and hollow. I hold them with a pair of needle-nose pliers and peel off the prickles with a pocket knife. They have an intense celery flavor and are much better for cooking.  They get tough at that stage though, so need to be sliced thinly then.

So today was a good news-bad news day.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Tasteless, invasive Indian strawberries are crowding out the sweet wild strawberries.

Oh, I almost forgot! I saw the plastic surgeon this morning who will be tightening up my droopy eyelids which is supposed to improve my vision significantly. I hope it does. But I’m secretly thrilled that my eyes will look better, too!

Little orange mushrooms

Little orange mushrooms

Foraging in My Mind

wild persimmons

Wild persimmons

Today it has rained all day, and it’s predicted to rain all night.  So it’s been a grey, cold day, and the yard is getting mushy.  I’m not complaining, though.  Hopefully this will go a long way toward breaking our persistent drought.

There seems to be some interest in one of the forums I post on in wild edibles.  So I was going through my files tonight to find pictures to share with them.  It was fun remembering the days I found the different plants, how much I enjoyed discovering them, and remembering how alive and happy I felt.

Black cherries

Black cherries

Since I have no camping or Casita news to share with you, I’ll let you go along with me as I recall happy foraging days in the past.

If there is interest, I’ll keep going through my files and posting more of these photos.  If not, then this is a one-day trip!  🙂

Wild strawberries.  My favorite!

Wild strawberries. My favorite!

Baby oyster mushrooms

Baby oyster mushrooms

Wild violet leaves

Wild violet leaves

Wild violet flowers

Wild violet flowers

Poke salad shoot (poke salat up north)  :)

Poke salad shoot (poke salat up north) 🙂

Bracken fiddleheads

Bracken fiddleheads

Bull thistle flower stalk. Cut the stalk and hold it in a gloved hand. I use Leatherman pliers to peel the bristly skin off the stalk. What is left tastes like celery and can be eaten raw or cooked. The stalk becomes woody and inedible once the flower starts blooming.

Indian putty root.  This plant is too rare to use for food.  I did once, just to see what it was like.  The raw bulbs taste like a starchy, crunchy water chestnut.  Cooked, it will stick your teeth together, and is best used as a glue.

Indian putty root. This plant is too rare to use for food. I did once, just to see what it was like. The raw bulbs taste like a starchy, crunchy water chestnut. Cooked, it will stick your teeth together, and is best used as a glue, which is what the Indians did.

Daylily corms

Daylily corms

Mild, oniony-tasting daylily shoots

Mild, oniony-tasting daylily shoots

Pipsissewa.  This is a medicinal plant, not an edible.  But I just loved this picture, so am posting it, too.  The Native Americans used to make a lung tonic tea with it.

Pipsissewa. This is a medicinal plant, not an edible. But I just loved this picture, so am posting it, too. The Native Americans used to make a lung tonic tea with it.