Thursday, March 29, 2012

Places to Live, Things to Eat

Nest in red-tip photinia
It was another glorious day to be a gardener. The azaleas are blooming their hearts out and the sun was spreading cheer and Vitamin D all around. I am working on a master list of spring chores for the grounds at work. Things like re-mulch the azaleas, transplant some volunteer shrub starts, spray for thrips, etc. While checking out the red-tip photinias I spotted a new nest. I think it is probably a robin's. It is decorated with long grass streamers and is set firmly into the “y” of two sturdy branches. The neighborhood may be a little loud, it is right next to some air conditioner units.

Poke weed
While assessing the decaying leaf piles for mulch and soil amendment possibilities I spotted this poke plant (Phytolacca americana). Picking poke sallet was an annual event at our house. Mother, Momma (maternal grandmother) and I would grab paper grocery sacks or the white enameled dish pan, jump in the car, and head off to wherever my mother had spotted the green shoots. They often show up around recently bulldozed piles where land has been cleared in the last year or two.

The trick to poke is picking it early in its growth and parboiling it thoroughly. The sap has toxins that will cause gastric distress, so you boil the greens, pour off the water and boil again. At that point you can treat it like spinach. We always just ate it like we ate any other green, but lots of folks scramble it with eggs.
Dewberry flowering

Close to the poke I saw dewberry flowers. In an amazingly short time we will have ripe berries. Dewberry is a close relative of the blackberry, but it grows low and has long trailing vines instead of erect, arching canes. It fruits much earlier. It also does well in newly cleared areas, especially alongside roads. On the drive to work this morning I saw hundreds of dewberry blossoms alongside my short stretch of interstate.

The things I saw today made me remember the verses about the flowers (lilies of the field) and the birds and worrying about what to eat and other stuff. How great to be able to live in the moment, stop striving, and appreciate the Creation.

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