Friday, April 29, 2011

green up time

We took a walk down to the lake to see what was coming up.

Not a lot, but enough for salad.

garlic mustard

Do the world a favor, pull it up by the roots and eat it.

the lovely and talented chickweed

just one of the edible stages of cattails


Note the papery sheath and grooved, non-hairy stem. These are i.d. characteristics for Matteucia struthiopteris & M. pennsylvanica aka ostrich fern. I confess, these are from my garden. I planted them because they're getting rare in nature and I don't like foraging things that are possibly endangered.

As we turned to come home, Mike said, "In a few more weeks, Mr. Snake will be up and out." We have a snake (or two) that lives under the rocks near where the dock goes in. By the time that happens on Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Snake is long gone, or at least knows enough not to show his scaly head. We've never met him while swimming or heard of anyone being bitten, so we're not worried.

Apparently, we weren't the only ones who thought it was a nice enough day to venture out and great the sun.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Springtown Rod & Gun Club

I've been chained to my computer for a month now. I'm not complaining too seriously, because writing work is good work. But for someone who's used to flexing her muscles and getting outdoors a good part of every day, spending hours in front of a monitor is unexpectedly enervating.

So yesterday Michael and I took a day off and headed for the Springtown Rod & Gun Club, where we are both card-carrying members. I realize it may seem odd that someone who is politically liberal, writes about orchids, and loves to make jams and jellies also enjoys shooting firearms, but there you have it. It's a challenge, which I like, and demands skill and concentration, which I have. I find it both focussing and relaxing.

This summer Michael and I are headed to Alaska for a week's canoeing in the Brooks Range on the John River. It will be a week of camping above the Arctic Circle and we are VERY excited. There is, however, the possibility of grizzly bear encounter, and for that reason, we have acquired a guide gun, capable of bringing down a bear. The rifle is considerably heavier and has more recoil than anything I've fired before, so one of my goals yesterday was to get acquainted with it.

Please don't be frightened by the following photo. If I saw this photo of myself I'd wonder who the hell I was and I promise you, I'm not a scary person! Using this gun against a bear would be a very last resort, and we hope not to need it. But I don't want to watch as my spouse is torn apart by a grizzly, or have him watch while that happens to me. Is that wrong?

When we got to the range there were a few other guys there. They talked with Mike and our friend Jim for 5 - 10 minutes, admiring each other's guns and exchanging pleasantries. Michael shot the guide gun first, then talked me through the set up. As I assumed my position, I noted the other men on the range watching me. Now I'm not someone who minds being watched. In fact, I don't think it happens often enough, but when you get to be my age, that's the way it is. So I noticed these guys watching me shoot and I figured they were interested in the gun because it is a little unusual. I told myself I'd better not embarrass myself and pulled the trigger. At 50 yards the bear would have been dead.

When I brought the rifle back to the table the guys were visibly impressed and asked if I hunted deer. I explained I didn't hunt ANYTHING but that I liked to shoot...paper. We talked a little about the Alaska trip and after a few minutes everyone went back to their own targets.

On the drive home I told Michael how I'd been aware of them watching me when I shot and I asked him why he thought they did. I knew enough not to pin it on my natural beauty and charm. Michael said they expected the gun to knock me on my ass, which is probably exactly right. Made me feel even better about not only holding my position but also hitting the target within a Minute of Bear.

And lest you think I've gone entirely off the deep end, here's the chickweed I harvested from the range for last night's salad.