Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Forraging for food

I went for a hike at Moss Rock Preserve this morning. I took the blue trail so that I passed by the "great wall" and then what was indicated on the map as a waterfall (though there was only a trickle today). My real intention for today's hike was to pick blackberries, so I didn't pause often to take in the scenery. Nevertheless, I felt that the blue trail didn't offer as many nifty sights as the white trail.

I did spot a couple of young raccoons, though, who were sitting on a rock only a few feet from me as I came up the trail. One of them arched its back and kept its eyes on me as I stood and watched. Having no intention of getting closer, and seeing that they were too nervous to carry on with their activities while I was around, I moved on. After a few more feet, I turned back and saw that they'd hastened up a tree while my back was turned. They were still watching me intently.

As I neared the end of the blue trail where it intersects with white, I took a path out of the woods toward the top of the mountain where the power lines are. Two weeks ago, I'd walked back to the parking lot this way after I'd completed both the red and white trails. I'd been exhausted, and thought it would be a quick route out. It wasn't. It was still probably a mile or so back to the parking lot — which doesn't seem like much, but consider that this was late morning in the middle of the summer, I'd already hiked a couple of miles over hills and rocks, and unlike the trails through the woods, there are no trees to shade you along the path where the power lines reside. The nice part about the power line trail, though, is that it's lined with wildflowers. They're much more plentiful there where they can acually get some sun. There are also scores of blackberry vines, so hungry as I was, I helped myself to several berries as I walked along.

This past weekend, while my parents were visiting, we all went over to the Preserve to pick blackberries. However, all the vines near the entrance are well picked over, and you have to walk a long way down the path before you find large amounts of berries. Since it was afternoon, and we had Emily with us, we didn't go very far. No one else had been there before, though, so the collective assumption was that the berries had "gone by" for the season. I knew this wasn't the case, but it didn't much matter, as we couldn't have stayed long or walked far anyway.

So today, my goal was to return to the spot where I'd been two weeks ago and pick enough berries to proove that they were indeed plentiful. Once I reaced the clearing I didn't have to look far. I set about filling up the container I'd brought with me, and after about 20 minutes, I'd nearly done so. In fact, I didn't even move beyond the first patch of vines that I came to.

Now completely drenched in sweat from the heat, I began my trek back. This time, I didn't make the same mistake as before; I stuck to the trail through the woods in order to stay in the shade. The walk back was of course, much more strenuous than the walk there. And now back at home, I notice that I have tiny cuts all over my hands from thorns. But the blackberry cobbler Misty bakes tomorrow will make it well worth the effort.

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