April 14, 2010
It's only just hitting mid-April, but I found my first ever wild leeks (ramps). I feel like a Yankee, or Pocahontas, or something equally as idyllic and conjoined with nature.
It was a gift from our woods, the first one to come directly to me, unless maybe you would count the pussy willows I found a month ago, before anything had turned green at all. But well, I couldn't eat those.
I was actually heading downtown to go have lunch with a friend, but I just had these little things on my mind, and had to see if it was that easy to find them. I left the door open to my house, and the door open to my truck (not realizing this of course, until I came back to them both, and hoped that my battery was not dead) and struck out right then and there. Cell phone in my pocket, I was still texting Laura saying I was "leaving in 5" as I crossed the threshold from the yard to the forest. There were quite a bit of green things. Trilium (not blooming yet) as I had learned from one of the herbal talks I went to recently. Also, one other small, dark green-leafed crawling vine I recognized from the same talks, but could not name. Then ferns (not fiddleheads) and another single-leafed floor covering. I thought it may have been one of the leeks, they were just not fully grown yet. Perhaps I was looking too early in the season.
These little leaves were sticking up in patches everywhere, where any bit of sun ma have happened to pass between leaves and hit the forest floor. I had expected the leeks to be like this. These leaves, though, were not promising, almost menacing - a darker green, and dappled just as their mother.
We have a series of paths that begin beyond the large field behind our house. They would be perfect cross-country ski paths, or snowshoe paths, (we intended to do more snowshoeing, but did not do enough to get back there anyway - this year) wide enough for a tractor or something, which probably originally cleared them. Also, we hear, they go all the way to a neighbors house on the other side of the hill. We really need more than 5 minutes to explore, but that is another story.
I decided it seemed illogical to start out on the path - why would wild leeks be sitting nicely ready to be picked alongside a wide, once-tractor trodden path? So I started near and even crossed over into the bull's (Hercules') fenced in area, since he has kind of a little stream which I thought they might grown near.
They live in colonies. I saw quite a few pictures while I was dong some research, and they grow as in little families up out of the dead leaves. In the pictures I saw, there was not much else for green around. The trees are not green yet - we're lucky that there are even a few red nips of buds starting on some certain trees. It's going to happen so fast though - in less than two weeks, we'll have a neon backdrop. Just like in the fall, the hills are on fire for the same amount of time. It's even a fast change for us humans.
I walked through the woods, finding some old barbed wire fence (not Hercules') and tried not to catch my leggings on them. Dressed for yoga, cell phone still in my pocket. I felt so 17th century Yankee... I was only about 20 feet or so into the woods, walking parallel to my yard, up hill, the parallel to the field. Nothing but more of the same four types of greenery I mentioned before, but not what I wanted. I thought, "Why should I think it would be so easy?" Like wild animals, the leeks would know where humans were living, and wouldn't set up their homes so close by. They're wild things, they have the intuition. Perhaps I was giving plants way too much credit.
I kept thinking I saw them...those single-leafed beings were fooling me. Some larger than one another, and glowing in the bit of sunlight, looked like the lime-green feathers I was searching for. I almost turned around (mind you "leaving in 5" text was probably 20 minutes in the making) but I saw the path I had spoken about earlier starting in front of me. I had made my way to the top of our field.
There is a huge, ancient tree very close to the start of the path. This winter, and in other low-light times, this tree scares me - it's more like a dark being. It barely sprout leaves, and the few were so high up last summer, I could barely discern what kind it was (my guess is Maple.) The tree certainly has a presence, but I saw it and realized I had been building up it's size - for the winter, I had not wanted to face it alone, that's how intimidating it is...But well, I looked at it in the face, and asked gently "Tree, show me where the leeks are." In my head, not out loud, ya know, preserving some sanity. I turned my back to the tree, to head down the path towards the field and house, and BAM leeks right in front of me. Glowing green, the big bright floppy green rabbit's ears settled in their circle right under a different old maple.
Posted by Adena at 15:02