Friday, March 29, 2013

To the woods!

March 2012

I am about to leave the house en route to the woods of northern Manhattan. Yes, we have them. Woods.

Clare (a fellow South African), Pritha and I will be looking for field garlic and watching out for young poison ivy. And picnicking.

I have no idea what to expect, actually. It's a late-spring; at least, later than last year. And yesterday the pear blossoms started to pop. Just a little. Actual white showing from the buds. Tomorrow they will open, in 50'F weather. I hope to find the spicebush in bloom, as above - that was March 24th, last year.

Dicentra cucullaria - Dutchman's breeches

I have a small picnic. Cucumber sandwiches on soft and entirely unwholesome white bread. Chicken liver mousse. Crackers.

And gin and tonic to celebrate the first real foraging outing of the year.  Of course I have ice.


  1. Is young poison ivy difficult to identify? We get some poisin ivy in our back yard and I'm pretty sure that I can recognise it when it's in its three leave stage but....I'm super allergic to it. I found out after the fact that it was twined in some azeleas that we were taking out two years ago. I didn't even see it.

    1. I think it is a matter of size. While the new leaves follow the rule of three, when unfurling they are really small and easily overlooked. Bare stems and roots are the worst-- no visual clues. One year after a struggle with a rose we were transplanting from an abandoned homestead, I realized what I thought were rose roots were actually poison ivy roots. Scratches plus poison ivy roots equals baseball mitt sized hands requiring ER treatment. Needless to say, I am eagle eyed and hyper vigilant today. Katie Scott

  2. Katie C. Watch for new pale red leaves. I have no idea how virulent they are as I've never been bit, so to speak. I'll post some pictures, soon.

    I know the little #^!*&%#@$rs from prior acquaintance, spotting them in leaf in early spring. The pre-spring suspects are vertical and supple twigs, about 2-3' tall. None in leaf, but red tips showing. The woods are late, this year.

    Katie - that sounds like a horrible experience. At least you're not a man and did not go and pee after handling poison ivy. All I'm sayin'.

    1. That would be a horror. I can relate one more true incident from my childhood. My parents were clearing underbrush at the new house though in the 1950's. They made a pile and lit it not realizing that the bare limbs were mostly poison ivy and oak. My mother stood in the smoke which, as smoke does, traveled everywhere including under every piece of clothing down to bare skin! She was bedridden for weeks. The only treatment was calamine lotion which is practically no treatment at all in my opinion. Thank the powers. That today we have those products to wash away the urushinol and cortisone for when you forget to take some with you.

  3. Hey, there's two of us Katies! Well I cleared out some brush this weekend where I know there was poison ivy in the past. I wore gloves and tossed everything in the laundry far no itching...I saw your twig picture from your foraging trip. I'll have to take a better look around the back yard. I didn't realize that the new leaves would be red. I thought that only happened in the fall. Anyway, there's still a ton to clean up and I know there is more poison ivy.


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