Stung! On our blueberrying trip, my tall girl’s little hand scared a stinging creature in a berry bush. Ouch. Whatever do you do?
Why, put a copper penny on it, of course. It works a charm. (Now, I’m sure I needn’t tell you it is best to clean both hand and penny, after checking to remove a stinger, and if you are allergic, disregard this entirely. Tongue swelling up? Get help!)
Seeing as this country is phasing out the copper penny, one might not find this remedy easily to hand in future. In that case, whip up some sodium bicarbonate or epsom salt with a bit of water to make a paste to apply; take a dose of homeopathic Apis Mellifica; chew the wild herb plantain, some basil, parsley or bee balm (oh right! obviously!) and apply; slice some garlic or onion and rub on the sting; splash on a bit of apple cider vinegar or a drop of lavender oil; you might even try prepared mustard, meat tenderiser, or toothpaste. Still, if you’re out in a field of blueberry bushes and nowhere near a kitchen, a penny might be just the bee sting remedy you need.
Thanks to my great friend Kimberly for this tip. It isn’t necessary to bring a wise woman with you on all adventures but it does make things easier.
What elation to gather the hazelnuts before the squirrels made off with the entire harvest. We felt a bit smug, having just outsmarted bears who make off with plums, too.
What a pleasure to shuck them, sitting on the back step with the children, like shucking corn both in word and in action. Albeit with enough repetition to cause a couple of blisters.
What a delight to set them in a basket to dry in a warm room, and watch the pale green deepen to that hazelnut brown.
And what a disappointment to find them all empty, not a single nutmeat amongst them. All our plans for hazelnut torte, or honeynuts! Dashed. Back to buying cobnuts at the shops. The hazels were recruited for an autumn display, beautiful but slightly unfortunate, like an ornamental cherry in spring. Do you gather nuts from local trees before the creatures take them all? What do you do with them?
One of my best finds from the antiques market is a handmade wooden Sussex trug. I’ve been searching for one for some time, as the shape of a trug is ideal for harvesting food from the kitchen garden and foraging in the hedges. It rests on your arm just so, with room underneath to slip things in; it sits comfortably without tipping over, and is light and sturdy. It’s an ancient design, using coppiced wood.
Having moved to the countryside in the darkening days of Winter, we’re eager for spring to turn the hills around our house into a feast. We’ve no idea what’s out there, but we’ll begin consulting our beloved copy of Hedgerow now and not leave off til the days are bleak again. In London we were able to find lots of nettles and elderflower, awkwardly stuffed into cloth bags, and in Vancouver we’ve always gathered lots of salmonberries, huckleberries, and wild blackberries, usually into buckets, though the weight of the top berries in a bucket can squish the ones below. The trug should handle a variety of things very well, kindling or greens or berries. The children and I would love to learn to recognise all kinds of wild plants. So we can eat them. When in Sussex…
Oh, we are still in London! Our Parisian trip is delayed a day. So we took the opportunity to warm up our very chilly old terraced house with some cooking, using some of our little garden harvest.
My tall girl went out front and plucked the golden cherries and the large rosy tomatoes, and I went out back and gathered some thyme and oregano. And detached an aggressive pumpkin from the raspberries it had so rudely climbed; rudely but productively, as a little pumpkin was hanging amongst the berries! What was I doing? Oh yes. Our garlic cured all summer in the house, and I finally took a bulb of it.
Softneck garlic was our best and easiest crop, the cloves planted last October, happily ignored, dug up in July, ignored some more. I do have ambitions of braiding it. I chopped all of these, and set them to roast long and low with sea salt and olive oil, as instructed on our beloved River Cottage.
The resulting heaven was put through our new mouli, the very first go, I adore it! More about that soon. We had the sauce with leftover pork and rice, for we were all too tired after a barn dance in the countryside to do anything else.