Sunday, September 2, 2018

Shoreline forage at Dead Horse Bay

The Frenchman said he was going to go out and buy manchego cheese, and I said, Can we go to Dead Horse Bay instead, and he said, Yes.

So we did.

I am leading a walk here this weekend and I had not visited in about five weeks; I get nervous and think - what if there is nothing interesting for them to see? So I like to check, ahead of time (how can you be ahead of time?).

Turned out fine. In those weeks we have had tropical downpours, and the old landfill's response has been lush.

The invasive Phragmites australis looks opulent in bloom.

The wide paths are tick-free. 

And the winged sumac (Rhus copallina) is in fruit. 

Above, you can see last year's cluster of fruit along with the new, unripe cluster. It is the last sumac to ripen in our region. There are lots of sumac recipes in Forage, Harvest, Feast. When I say lots, I mean 63. The one I am proudest of is Sumac Essence. A fantastic secret weapon in the kitchen.

I was surprised to learn last year that a lot of people confuse sneeze-inducing Ambrosia artemisifolia - ragweed (above) - with goldenrod, below. They bloom at the same time. And if you Google ragweed a bunch of goldenrod pictures pop up. A good friend argued  with me vehemently that goldenrod was in fact ragweed. No.

Goldenrod is the common name of the bright yellow species of Solidago, heralds of autumn; I think the one above is S. canadensis. Just because it is conspicuous doesn't mean it gives you allergies. Its pollen is too large to irritate us. Sneakily invisible ragweed, on the other hand...

Near the beach, my beloved bayberry, Myrica pensylvanica. I have just made the most gorgeous beach plum and bayberry syrup (yes, recipe in the book) and have frozen the cooked plum pulp for later use - it is delicious.

You can see how poison ivy (above) and edible sumac are related. They belong to the same family as mango and cashews. Birds love poison ivy fruit. Humans, not so much.

This is apparently a burr grass (Cenchrus species). New to me, and noticed today because of its painfully sharp but prolifically beautiful flowers.

Lots of horse shoe crab exoskeletons.

And rides to nowhere, courtesy of Hurricanes Sandy and Irene.

It doesn't look like Brooklyn, does it?

But it is.

To join us on September 8th for a forage, 12.30pm - 3pm (timed to coincide with low tide, and exposing the famous detritus of old-ish glass), and a wild picnic featuring mugwort and bayberry and sumac, please book via the PayPal button below. Details will be emailed to you on sign up.

(And if you are wondering about the cheese...we stopped for it on the way home.)

Sold Out, Sorry!


  1. Poor Goldenrod gets such a bad rap from Ragweed. I try to preach the good news here, too. A neighbor has the pale yellow solidago. I need to go see if she has enough for me to cut a vase ...full. She ignores it! silly woman! Would love to see that part of your Brooklyn!


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