Sunday, April 25, 2010


In honor of Earth Day, and to personally celebrate the most beautiful time of year, my good friends Stephanie and Mike (cavers, boaters, professionals and eco-sensitive locavores) shared some secret resources with me, as I did with them.  Don't ask me where we went, because I won't tell you.  Suffice it to say:  the site above yielded some absolutely fabulous spring-fed watercress.  We visited this spot just after harvesting a few bags of ramps, at another undisclosed location.  I forgot to photograph the site; ramps get my heart racing.  Love those ramps.
This site, new to me, was their contribution to the day's adventure.  It yielded a handful of morels to them a week ago, though none were forthcoming yesterday. I DID score a beautiful Dryad's Saddle mushroom and a nice bag of chickweed. When I read the nutritional pedigree of chickweed to Stephanie (from Steve Brill's book on the subject:  "Identifying and Harvesting Medicinal and Edible Plants" ), she said "Mmmmm...Spinach!"  Perfect. 
The Dryad's Saddle
I picked this before I knew what it was.  I challenge myself when I'm out; I enjoy finding a plant that interests me, and learning what I can about it.  It's interesting to me; more times than not, they're either medicinal or edible.  The Dryad's Saddle is edible; the name is derived from the whimsical thought that the fungus might be a good seat to the wood-nymphs.  I aggree.  It looks comfortable to me!  Steve Brill offers a marinade that tenderizes an otherwise reportedly chewy and sub-prime mushroom.  It's touted as a good "beginner fungus" (right down my alley), as it's very easy to identify. It's the "Also-Ran" in the race for morels.  According to my "Field Guide to the Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania And the Mid-Atlantic", one needn't go home empty handed from an unsuccessful morel hunt, as the Dryad's Saddles share the season with them.  They were right.  I'll report back on Brill's marinade tomorrow (they're soaking now). 
It felt so good to get out in nature after a few weeks of yearning for it. The environment, the company, and the identification of a new fungus all totalled a perfect day. I can't say that I particularly enjoyed the 5 ticks I found on my body on the trip home, but they were a fair price to pay for the pleasure of exploring.  Nature strikes a balance.

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