Thursday, May 27, 2010

hello bear

It's the full moon so it's time to write. I can't really decide what to write about. One thing is that I looked out my window yesterday and saw a bear in the backyard, just snacking on some pear tree.

Then the bear gingerly tried to knock over the compost bin. I felt like a sour adult yelling at a teenager doing something stupid/fun. I was like, "Hey bear! No! That's not cool! Stop!" and the bear looked at me like I was harshing his/her mellow so bad. It just walked away, stopped to eat some apple tree on it's hind legs, and then gallomphed into the woods. As Luke said, the most important thing is that we don't know this bear's pronoun preference.

The photos kind of suck, but I took them through the window. I had a moment where I thought about getting a better angle from outside, but then I heard the voice of my father who is terrified of pretty much anything that isn't wrapped in plastic or from a deli or on a leash, say "Bears are not cuddly even though you want them to be. They eat people." So. Sorry the pictures are just so so.

Another thing is that my new friend Angie, who amazingly runs a diaper service and is so special, took me to her elder harvesting spot and I cried. I have never seen so many elders. Angie said, "there are enough elders here to make elderberry syrup for the whole town." I brought home enough elder flowers to cover the kitchen table and make 2 gallons of elderflower mead. I can't wait til August to get those berries.

elderflower mead

Saturday, May 1, 2010

may day

I love May Day. May Day, or Beltane, has a long history of being a wild and free frolic in the woods fairy magic celebration, and then, like you're making a delicious sundae, you pour the hot fudge and whipped cream and toppings of choice of workers' rights and labor history to make it such a deliciously substantive day.

To honor the workers, I built a fairy house. See above.

I used all locally sourced materials such as violet leaves and moss. 

I had a whole imaginary TV show in my head which was like one of those reality home improvement shows, but for gnomes and fairies, where the gnome lady is like, "His rock collection is really getting out of control. They're everywhere! When I'm trying to cook my snaketongue stew, I can't find any of my pots, because this kitchen is so disheveled. Can you help us?" And the gnome man is all, "I'm a gnome. I collect rocks.  What do you want from me?" And then I come in and not only do some gnomemediation, but re-vamp their house, creating a highly organized rock storage space and a new gnome kitchen and gnome entertainment area- with everything found right there in the woods. I mean, doesn't that sound like an amazing show? It would be on after the TV show my friend Dean Spade and I made up, called Fairy Court. Please somebody let me be on public access so we can create elaborate court disputes about dew drop privitization and toadstool custody.

Anyway, after the gnome home construction, I collected exactly one jillion violets in the yard to make violet jam. I learned this recipe from a woman I met named Blanche Derby, who lives in Northampton and is so beautiful and magical. She rides around on her bicycle with a bunch of baskets on it collecting cattail pollen and nettles and making muffins out of dandelions and braiding her exquisite long white hair into intricate shapes. I invited her over for tea and a walk,  on which we were rewarded with an amazing oyster mushroom harvest! 
Here are the beautiful violets awaiting their fate of being pulverized into hot pink jam. This jam tastes like the perfumed inside of grandma's pocketbook. In a good way. 

Violet Jam Recipe 
from Blanche Derby's My Favorite Plants

1 cup packed violet blossoms
1 1/2 c water
juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups sugar (I used like 1/4 c sugar because I am sort of avoiding the white devil)
1 package of pectin (I use Pomona's, which fyi is made by my friend's landlord/neighbor here in greenfield, ma! who knew? pectin always seemed like it just magically/alien-landed/happened- i didn't know some human made it. duh.)

place violets in blender with 3/4 c water and lemon juice. blend and add sugar til it dissolves. (it turns bright pink because of the acid in the lemon juice. if you decide to make violet vinegar, the alkalinity turns the violets blue.) Heat 3/4 c water in pan, stir in pectin  and boil hard for 1 minute. Pour that into the blender and blend for 1 minute. Pour into sterile jars and seal. This will keep in your fridge for about 3 weeks. Eat on toast, pancakes, over porridge or ice cream.