Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I shelled my first acorns this morning and have them soaking in water, and the haws are out (hawthorns) and hawthorn schnapps is on its way. Will be ready in 5 months. Hawschnapps in preparation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bye Bye Blackberry

If you blink you miss the start of new construction in a city. I rode by my favorite foraging spot in the city today, the Geese Ghetto by the B.U. bridge, and it has been leveled. Some woman stopped to ask what was going on and the construction foreman told us that they were repairing the bridge, 2.5 year project, and had to make a staging area for this. There go hundreds of blackberry bushes, pokeweed, burdock, and milkweed. The guy says they are putting in a park afterward. The woman says "Oh, that sounds great..". At that point I left, pretty sad. Felt like an old man watching his favorite tree die. Then I picked myself up by the bootstraps on the rest of my ride, and imagined helping design a fruit tree park with the city of Cambridge. Apples, Juneberries, Kousa Dogwoods, Hawthorns, Black Locusts, White Oaks, Peaches, Pears. Could become a different type of foraging mecca. Will have to write a proposal, and have someone draw up an artist sketch.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blackberries for David, and swimming in the Charles River

There is a guy who occasionally pickets "Save the geese" along the BU bridge. I took a pamphlet from him the other day to check out what his beef is. Basically, he is concerned about the town of Cambridge disturbing the few remaining wild life areas. The result of this has been that the geese are now confined to what he calls "the ghetto" - the area under the BU bridge where they all hang out. I always just thought they liked hanging out there, it was sort of protected, there are so many of them they seem well-fed and all...but he had a different opinion. He said that Cambridge planted all those shrubs on magazine beach to keep them out of there. Maybe so, but they planted some shad bushes and elderberries (and way too many willows) so I can't really complain. Plus, the geese in the ghetto don't seem to care for the blackberries that are there right now, so I have been hauling them out of there for the last couple weeks, and they keep giving. Geese don't like the pokeweed or the milkweed either. We get along well.

The single elderberry bush that I have been hitting is offering up big yields too right now. I tried another jelly (crab apple/elderberry) this morning, crossing my fingers for it to jell correctly.

Brian and I took a dip in the Charles River the other day. Temperatures in the 90s plus a B++ rating was enough to get us in there, although naturally we were a tad wary about it. So, we were sitting there dangling our feet over the dock and procrastinating for a while when a large black woman with her 3 kids strolled by. They were lingering, assessing, so I asked her if they ever went in. She responded without pause:


Pretty sweet.

Anyhow, the water was great, and we kept our feet far away from disturbing the bottom.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I sit here in a beautiful bed and breakfast in Madison, WI and I look at the title of my blog and I feel like I should start with brief thoughts on the three topics that don't get enough attention.

YOGA. Down to twice a week, so my yoga prowess that I had going in say March has dropped. I ran class the other night at the one night home in two weeks, and it was fine. I had to go easy on my right wrist though because on my recent trip to Seattle, Kevin D's drunk buddy Dahveeed got wasted and tackled me [jokingly, but it hurt...head went down pretty hard on the pavement] and I caught us on my wrist.

ART. I got rejected from the arboretum juried art show. Given the jpeg I sent, I thought I might get accepted, and then maybe they'd regret the acceptance when they saw the real thing. jpegs of my art always look better than the real thing. Taken to the limit, a jpeg would be a single bad can that look? Well, anyhow, just so it doesn't become solely a collector of dust (old joke from the tuesday night magic auctions in Watertown I used to go to as a kid: "This one's a collector's item"..some genius heckler in the back .."Yeah, it collects dust"), here it is. Title: "And Washes In Dew From The Hawthorn Tree". Isn't that enough to get admitted?

ART2: Gaudi stuff in Spain was fantastic. I dug it because he used nature but only as a starting point, he didn't just copy it directly. It was more like nature meets cubism in architecture, and I fully realize I am treading into waters I'm not that familiar with when I write something like that. But really, in summer time we all have to put up with a ton of bad nature art - visit any sea-side town and go into any art gallery for the latest in wind swept beach dune scenes tacky enough to want to make you hurl yourself off the nearest pier. Those 'artists' could learn a lot from Gaudi: don't just copy...make it your own. Heck, I could too. But I've pretty much decided that if and when Art Night resumes in the fall, I'm going to use the time to crank away on my book, which I've not begun but already titled: Urban Foraging.

MUSIC: Highlight from Spain was the wanna-be Chickenslacks who did a lot of originals. Like, "I dig black music". Sarah couldn't drink but still tore it up, I got boozed up enough to find it very amusing to watch a guy buy cigarettes from a machine, so much so that I recorded the whole process with my camera, including him walking out the door and off into the evening. Last night in Madison on the water I had a tofurky bratwurst and a large beer and enjoyed some not-very-good live music, but the setting was nice and if the mayor of Boston ever gets around to reading this blog, well, I think we should have a place like that in town.

MUSIC2: Karaoke in Ocean Shores Washington. After my work trip to California, which was great, except for the Joshua Tree National Park which may as well be closed in mid summer in my opinion unless you are trying to lose weight, I headed up to Washington State to tour the Olympic Peninsula with my friend Kevin D from Williamstown. After the photo show at the gallery by Jeff Weinstock on the O.P., I decided I'd get out there soon, and Kevin was a willing participant. Well, the first day we got a late start due to our drinking and wrist injuring the night before, so we didn't even get out there till late. But not too late for karaoke in a very hick town Jersey-shore-esque. Kevin was honestly a little worried by the looks of this place, but we charged right in. Within about 2 minutes, I had a tattooed guy telling me he was just looking for a reason to punch some dude like 4 stools down. Great. Oddly enough, the first song tough-guy sang was "You send me". It was a country song karaoke feast other than that, with all the women there blasting out their polished tunes waiting for american idol scouts to jump up and whisk them away. I figured it would be a great time to try a new Morrissey song, so I did "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now." I can't say it was a hit or anything, since basically no one was listening, but one dude came up to me and said he liked it, and Kevin promises to give it a whirl next chance he gets, so I declare full success.

The photo is from the Hoh rain forest in the Olympic Peninsula, and has nothing to do with foraging, art, yoga, or bad karayoke.

Finally, a brief word on FORAGING.

In my recent world tour, here are some foraging highlights:
* Oranges and dates and purslane, all eaten on, from Spain.
* Something like sea rocket, tasted but not swallowed, on the California coast. Brittany and I also gave names to about 5 other plants that we found along the shore. Gumbi plant, Perspiring Brittany Bush, and more.
* Thimbleberries, red elder berries, salal (another berry), and a salmon berry, in the Olympic Peninsula.
* Madison WI is a few weeks behind, so out here I've been enjoying mulberries and gawking at the number of black walnut trees. If I lived out here I would quickly figure out a good way to process those guys.
* Back home for my two days in between Washington and Wisconsin, I went foraging with Becca who will write a foraging article in the globe coming soon. We had a nice meal of berries, greens, and mushrooms. The mushroom find was key, and involved me getting very excited to see a Russian woman out there getting them herself. I got so excited to ask her stuff I scared her away a bit, but I chased her down and finally she showed me her goods. She was collecting boletes, but had some of the ones that turn blue when you open them or press them. I haven't gotten to that level yet, I leave those ones alone, even though I hear they are very tasty and I'm dying for someone to show me how to positively ID them.

Also, I ate a mound of purlsane in the U.W. arboretum this afternoon. That place is big and wild and obviously hard for them to keep up, but, even though they dissed me on the art show, my heart still resides in the Arnold Arboretum, super-manicured though it is.

Ruby beach...the Olympic Peninsula.