Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The wild woods - an excursion to Pelham Bay

To Pelham Bay Bay Park we went, on the 6. It takes a lot less time from Harlem than it did from Cobble Hill. Spring beauties were out in drifts of white. I have never seen so many.

We pointed long lenses at tree stumps but did not see the owlet that is in alleged residence.

There were woodland anemones on their "stems like threads" (perfectly on cue, as I write about them in the April chapter of my book.)

There was cutleaf toothwort.

There were deer! (I have never seen deer, here.)

There were thousands of trout lilies.

And forests of Japanese knotweed, below. It is really out of hand. I have never seen as much. This is a problem, because this part of the city is also home to a wonderful diversity of  indigenous wildflowers and spring ephemerals which are outcompeted by the weedy thugs. I was also struck by the green sheets of day lilies also invasive) and the presence of masses of garlic mustard. 

The good news? Well, you know what it is. Primo kitchen ingredient. But it needs to be harvested NOW. 

Why can't we host a knotweed festival? A famous April feast. Have foragers and cooks and chefs and writers and gardeners and botanists and park custodians all make friends and play catch the knotweed for a couple of days.

And then eat it, together. This is a spring treat.

After stops for photos and knotweed collection, we headed to our favourite island where someone once planted garden flowers - lily of the valley (which make the Frenchman homesick for his childhood in Antibes, where there was a festival honouring them), grape hyacinth and shasta daisies, all around some stone ruins - and had our picnic.

Stellaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Marlon Brando. Such a good looking young man. So very odd, later.

Prosciutto and arugula with home made mayonnaise and mustard, on brioche buns, and some field garlic bread left over from Saturday's Central Park wild edibles walk. We put cheese on that, naturally, with a schmear of Mrs Ball's hot chutney.

Spiky, with yellow buds, growing from a crack in the rock. No idea.

And a butterfly.*

Then a detour for winter cress, a walk to the bus, making our trip a good  5.5 mile round trip, and south, on the 6 train back to Harlem.

The butterfly reminds me: I have a book about homegrown herbal teas to give away. I loved the butterfly giveaway I did a couple of years ago, where everyone described their first local sightings. It made the most evocative poem. Perhaps it's time to do that again...

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