Thursday, November 15, 2018


As snow flurries shroud Brooklyn I hurry this post out to show autumn on Long Island, last week. Beautiful Caumsett State Park is just over an hour's drive from home and is near the town of Oyster Bay, where I think I could live very happily. Quiet water and big trees. Strangely, there is always a long line of cars waiting to get in at the gates, but somehow all the human cargo is dispersed once there. Or perhaps we head in an unpopular direction? We rarely see more than a couple of people once we are off the main paths.

The massive beech above must be one of the most beautiful trees in the state. 

Juniper berries (really cones) were prolific and sweet beside a well trafficked and tarred path. Soon we branched off into the rustling woods and tramped through rustling leaves.

Our destination was the beach and we found it at extreme low tide in the long shadows of winter's time change.

Last time we were here all these rocks were under the shallow, clear water of the Long Island Sound.

A man in his late 70's stood and looked out at the water for a very long time.

The sand was covered in these shells, which proved to be occupied. I have never noticed them, before.

They are slipper shells - Google images revealed this after I searched for "Long Island molluscs stacked." They are native to these eastern Atlantic shores but have now invaded France, where they poach the food from mussels and oysters and scallops. They are hermaphrodites: The big one on the bottom is a female, with males stacked above. If she dies, the next in line male switches to female.

Our picnic on the sand started with salmon roe on the popular seed crackers, with crunchy radishes, then a warming course of beef and beer stew (From Darra Goldstein's lovely Scandinavian cookbook Fire and Ice), and ended with some runaway cheese.

(Darra wrote a very kind review of Forage, Harvest, Feast for The Times Literary Supplement, calling it "a joyous cookbook about the delights of the natural world"- you can read the whole review if you are subscribed!)

We walked down the beach and up through the woods, in a big circle.

We saw only one deer on our walk, and heard lots of woodpeckers, and an owl.

Today it must all be snowed under, and one day we will visit when there is snow and a hard freeze to make it stick.

The linden viburnum (Viburnum dilatatum, locally very invasive) that I collected along the way has been turned into a quivering, crimson jelly, just in time for Thanksgiving. I may make the goose from Forage, Harvest's Feast's list of seasonal wild menus at the back of the book - but our new apartment's oven is small, inside. Perhaps it will be duck, or ducks. Juniper is in season, and I am still finding lots of red berries (viburnum, aronia). Lambs quarter seeds, too. So there is still lots of wild, out there, and plenty from the year's preserves in the forage cupboard.

What will be on your menu?



  1. Isn't nature mysterious and fascinating! The next one in line switches sexes! Wow.
    And yes, I have to agree, that is one beautiful tree.

    1. The tree is a magnet, too, like a giant marquee once beneath the branches - the scale is hard to convey.

  2. A favorite place--I grew up very close by; we would visit Caumsett often. Field trips in school went to Target Rock there. Thanks for the reminders of how beautiful it is!

    1. Hi Julia - You've made me look carefully at Google Earth - there is so much we have not explored, there!

  3. Mouthwatering as always. Isnt it wonderful that evolution has diversified, so we dont have to go through the same as a mollusk?

  4. Thank you for the trip down memory lane. In some ways I can see how the water's edge had locked me to it (like it had the old man), doing all that needed to be done, and I continue to search for what it had done for me in everything else.

    I know that solitary road to the water's edge well, and am delighted by the ochre beech image with the November shadows.


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