Early Forage

This was definitely the earliest in the year I’ve picked fiddleheads.  It’s maybe a 1/4 mile from the road to my spot.  As I clamored across the tundra and down the hill to cross the creek, I noticed the devils club had no buds – not a single bud out yet.  I’d never picked fiddleheads when the buds weren’t out as I’d get some buds on my may there and back.  So, I was a bit doubtful the fiddleheads would be up yet. The creek was running pretty hard.  I walked along till I found a tree across that I thought I might not fall off of, and made it across.  As I headed through the forest up hill to the open hill side, I saw a few scrawny fiddleheads but nothing to stop for.   When I got to the hillside, there were still no devils club with buds.  But I did see some green false hellebore growing up the hill in the sun, so I headed up there.  I finally found a good patch of fiddle heads.  They were just barely up through the dead ground grass. When I pulled the grass back, there was lots of fiddleheads.  Very close to the ground and with a full brown sheath.   As I picked and picked, a hooter hooted up on the hillside.  I thought, maybe this is how old age is gonna be.  I can’t get up to the hooters anymore, but can still enjoy them while I’m down here picking fiddleheads. John Cox introduced us to twisted stalk when he was here, then I read about it on http://www.foodabe.com written by another forager in Juneau. I found some on the hill, but it was just starting, as were the nettles, so I left them for a little later.  I’m not much on the nettles, but looks like you can just eat twisted stalk raw as a salad and that sounds good.  Dick Proeneke used to eat fireweed shoots all summer at Twin Lakes.  I know where theres lots here but it’s near the busy road.  The twisted stalk just might be the thing.  I picked 10 Costco nut jars of fiddleheads and that was just about right.  The sun was touching the mountain and about to go down.   I found my way back to the same tree to cross the creek, then up into the sunlight again across the muskeg to the car.   We got an electric car and I was interested to see what it would do going down hill.  When I started out it said I had 31 miles left.  When I got down the mountain, I was up to 45.  Not bad.