Yesterday had me working on the maple sap problem. Turns out that you do in fact need freezing nights, and warmer days, to get sap to come out, because what happens is that overnight the sap in the branches of the tree freezes, and then during the day, when things warm up, the sap defrosts and comes rushing down the trunk and back to the roots. (The tree’s sap is like animals’ blood, it gets nutrients from one spot and then delivers the nutrients to spots that need them, and then flows back again to the place it gets the nutrients, to refuel.) Without the freezing, the sap flows very, very slowly, or not at all (at least at the perimeter of the tree, where you tap it). In my case, it was the not at all option. I drilled a small hole, and it was bone dry. Oh, well.
I put off going to the library and park/woods, so I discovered nothing new to eat, and just had more sunchokes (slowly!) and dandelion greens.
It’s raining today, witch I suspect will wake up a lot of plants. So that might help some things grow more quickly and be ready to eat sooner. It also might help inspire some mushrooms to grow, which is something I’m always interested in. I did a little mushroom hunting when I was staying at a Buddhist center in Northern California, and some of the people running the place were avid mushroom hunters. They gave me some tips, and let me use their excellent mushroom guide Mushrooms Demystified, by David Aurora. I found a whole lot of inedible mushrooms, and one that was listed as edible but bland. I was fully raw at the time, so I simply dehydrated it and used it like white bread toast, which is what it tasted like. (It’s apparently a popular delicacy in the Mediterranian, from what I hear, but I can’t tell why. Maybe they like the flavor of white bread toast?) Though the appearance of the thing was definitely nothing but bland, and it’s one of the most exciting mushrooms I’ve ever seen. The creature is quite accurately called the Bloody Milk Cap (Lactarius sanguifluus), and, just like with human beings, the inside is very different than the outside. The outside looks like a pretty orange sherbet colored sandstone carving, while the inside is a reddish-purplish mess of oozing globules, as you can see from the pictures.
Alas, I don’t think we have them in the New England area. But we do have boletes, chanterelles, and the very common edibles hen of the woods and chicken of the woods, as well as the highly prized and awesome looking giant puffball, which can easily get to be nearly basketball sized, and looks like a giant round lightly toasted marshmallow. I have never had the pleasure of seeing one of these in person, though. When I was a kid, I did see the mini puffballs, and they are apparently edible as well, so I hold out hope that I might at least see them again someday.
Now I’m off to make some pine needle ade, and start my day, wild and free, as it should be. :-)