Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wild Leeks and Hepaticas

Grandma Small and Buddy with spring bouquet.
Spring has finally come to central Vermont, although as I was walking in the woods up behind the Randolph Center farmhouse yesterday, enjoying the sun's warmth, I was kinda surprised at how white the top of Killington looks from here. Also, if you scroll down, you'll see a picture of the farmhouse taken after a snowstorm in May 1945. So you just never know. That said, Mary Markle was talking about wild leeks the other day at lunch (baked beans and potato salad at the Senior Center): She picks, dries, and freezes them, then adds them to soup and stews. And Chef's Market was selling wild leeks and fiddleheads (the latter from Massachusetts; it's maybe a bit early here for fiddleheads). Years ago, I used to love picking spring wildflowers along the brook while my mother picked fiddleheads (Ellen Reid and my mother were great fans of wild food back before it was fashionable, and used to share information about where to find it and how to prepare it). The following is an excerpt from my mother's "Childhood" memoir, in which she reminisces about the springtimes of years gone by. The picture above is of her maternal grandmother and one of her cousins, Charles "Buddy" Sawyer:

“In the spring we loved to go into the woods to look for wildflowers. We knew where to go to find trillium, hepaticas, adder’s tongues, and violets of blue, white, and yellow. We would gather them up in limp bouquets and present them to some adult. Wildflowers don’t do too well as cut flowers, but the recipients of these bouquets always were properly appreciative. Even before the flowers, though, were the pussywillows. My father once gave me a little pearl-handled knife which I took on a pussywillow expedition and managed to cut my finger. Dad remarked rather ruefully that perhaps a jack-knife wasn’t such a good present for a girl."—Idora Tucker

Cooley Farm on Ridge Road at Randolph Center, May 1945.

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