Have you ever passed by an old abandoned house on a rural road and wanted to go inside only to be met with threatening signs like NO TRESPASSING or TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED . Well today I saw a very old farm house that had been abandoned long ago and guess what ? No signs. I parked my car and walked around the beautiful white washed yellow brick house admiring the graffiti. The most amazing blue octopus was painted on the back of the house where no one could see it from the road. The side door of the house was open and the stair case to the second level clearly visible. I stepped a few feet into the room but didn't venture further due to the poor condition of the floor boards. The house was boarded up so only small rectangles of light were filtering through giving it a somewhat eery atmosphere.
Every spring it is a family tradition to collect fiddleheads from the Humber river valley.
I was armed with my trusty swiss army knife and yellow rubber boots.
Warning !! If you can't recognize an ostrich fern in the early stages of growth don't attempt this. Some species of ferns are poisonous or can at least make you very sick if you ingest them. You need not collect the ones like this that have already unfurled.
This is what I am looking for .
It was so beautiful and green everywhere after the rain ( and snow) had fallen that morning. My family always harvests wisely. We only take a few fronds from any given fern plant so that the plant continues to grow and reproduce. It must be working because we have been collecting here for about 15 years and they are still flourishing in the area. They are best eaten within a few days of harvesting. You need to rinse them with lots of cold water to remove the brown skins called bracken covering the spirals. These are very bitter, discolor the water and can give belly aches. After that the simplest way to cool them is to boil or steam for about 12 minutes. You can eat them plain but my family likes them with a little butter and lemon juice. They have a delicious nutty flavor. Last night I made a version of jamie oliver's penne recipe
substituting fiddleheads for the olives and adding some organic roasted chicken and adding grated asiago cheese and roasted cashews .
Later in the week I will try a fiddlehead quiche or frittata and soup. What are you cooking up to celebrate spring?
This is my bundle of colorful "vintage plastic" knitting needles. At least I thought they were all plastic but today I discovered that some of the older , more interesting ones are actually made of a material called celluloid. Celluloid is created from nitrocellulose and camphor, plus dyes and other agents and was was first created in the 1850's. The cellulose came from cotton or wood mash . This material was made into a replacement for ivory and bone and shaped into all sorts of things. It was a precursor to bakelite and other polymers. Sorry to bore you but I find all this fascinating because in a former life I was an organic chemist ( more about that in a future post) . I wonder if these needles are biodegradable? I will have to research that and let your know. I do know that they "taste " really strange. No, I don't actually eat my knitting needles but sometimes when I am thinking about the next portion of a complicated cable or lace pattern I find myself with the needle head up to my lips without realizing it until I notice the bitter flavor. These needles have a beautiful texture in my hand and are a treat for my eyes. Sometimes I try to match up the needles to the color of the wool I am knitting with. I really dislike metal needles because of the noise they make and I use wooden ones especially when knitting in the round . I don't find the wooden ones hold up to the pressure of my knitting energy. I have even bought the "lantern moon" needles and had them snap in the first month of use.
You might ask what one does with such a rainbow collection of needles . Well of course I .......
The Trilliums are coming is the news the forest has been announcing all week. Every day I have been for at least a short walk through one of three forests in and around my town. I have really enjoyed seeing all the earlier more subtle flowers because when the trilliums come everything else becomes invisible in the sea of white that the forest floor becomes. It will reach that climax in about a week. We have mainly two species in our forests the well known trillium grandiflorum ( thus named by one of my heros Linneus) and the trillium erectum (known commonly as the red trillium and I think the name is a misnomer because the ones I saw were not erect at all ). The white trillium has been the provincial flower of Ontario since 1937. Here is where the urban myth story begins. I was always taught that it was illegal to pick trilliums growing in the wild in Ontario. Well today in doing a little research for this post I discovered that there is no such law and this common knowledge is really just an urban myth. It isn't that I want to pick them because I adhere to the general principles of stewardship to leave only my footprints and take only memories (and pictures of course) from the wilderness but I also don't want to perpetuate non truths to my children. I also discovered today that trilliums are edible and that they were used to treat gynecological problems in many North American first nation tribes . The trillium root was considered to be a sacred female herb .
I was beginning to think I had jinxed myself by talking about the my favorite rummage sale of the year here on my blog yesterday because other than a few lovely vintage tins , some very old children's books and a vintage apron with a really sweet doggie fabric there were no real treasures to be found. Believe me I looked in all the right places. To make up for that major disappointment I decided to get up bright and early and go to a few garage sales and one estate sale in the next town. I came up empty handed again . I decided to go for a walk in my favorite woods to lift my spirits . I got to see the first red and white trilliums starting to bloom . Soon the forest will be carpeted with them and I will definitely have to try to capture that spectacle on my camera. I headed home from the forest when I noticed some articles by the curbside with a "free" sign. It was actually an old wooden ladder that caught my eye because I wanted one to dry wool and they make nice displays for vintage linens and scarves. Then I saw it, a beautiful old mantle clock with only one hand. I placed it in the passenger seat with a few very semi circular window frames and a lovely old frame and off I went. It was a short drive home but that road has speed bumps and every time I went over one beautiful chimes echoed from the clock. I couldn't wait to get it home and have a look inside at the clock mechanism.
On the face of the clock is written "Arthur Pequegnat Clock Co , Canada" so of course I googled this and discovered that Arthur Pequegnat moved from Switzerland to Berlin, Ontario ( which was later changed to the name Kitchener) in 1874. In 1897 he built a bicycle factory that he converted to a clock factory in 1904 . Interestingly it was around this time that regular people starting buying automobiles. The demand for bicycles probably went down as a result. Back to Arthur he became one of the best clock makers in Canada . He died in 1927 and the company closed in 1941 due to a severe shortage of brass brought on by the war. The clock is missing a hand and the fittings around the face are a little bent but the internal mechanism looks pristine for some thing so old. I think I am going to get an estimate on fixing it just to hear its chimes. I couldn't find this exact clock on my google search but Arthur's clocks are collector's items starting at about 500 dollars and invaluable in the history lesson I obtained.
Hope you are having a wonderful saturday. I am back to the garden and a little bit of spring cleaning before the rain comes. I heard on the news this morning that in northern Ontario they are getting a storm with 20 to 30 cm of snow and freezing rain and in Toronto transit workers staged a surprise walk out last night at midnight leaving tons of people stranded . Where are those bikes when you need them???
Did you know that the term "spending money" probably originated from "pin money" .
Pin money was a term for amounts of money, usually saved by a woman to buy needles and pins. Pins were very expensive in the 15th century and were only allowed to be sold in England on the first two days of each January. Some husbands gave their wives special money for the purchase so that she could purchase more expensive needles and cases to put them in. These needle cases were status symbols . The fancier your needle case the higher your husband's position in society. I have a very small collection of needle cases and I am always looking for them at flea markets, rummage sales and thrift stores. Today I was taking out some "pin money" from the bank to spend at my favorite rummage sale today . This is the same rummage sale that I found the victorian crochet hooks and the fantastic button bag I have posted about earlier. So today I am excited about what I may find under the tables and inside boxes or tins. Maybe I will find a needle case or some golden pins. I sure hope my favorite volunteer is working in the corner of the crowded room . I am going to end this very short post with pictures of my needle cases. The silver case with the golden needle is from my dear friend Minnie.
Have a great start to your weekend !! Wish me luck !!
I put the finishing touches on my April hand spun wool swap project last night and am really excited to post some pictures of it. The beautiful wool is from cathy cullis and the fantastic color of the wool reminded me of coral and thus inspired this little project. I only had a small amount of wool to work with so I decided to make only half of a yoke . The pieces of the garden were inspired by my favorite textile artist maria ribeiro . I used vintage crochet cotton, vintage pearls from my husband's oma, pieces of vintage earings and some small buttons from my stash. The knitted portion was made using the hyperbolic technique increasing in each stitch on every row , thus doubling the number of stitches . Maria uses this technique in many of her pieces but she uses crochet . Enough with the words and on with the pictures.
If you are interested in coral gardens, fiber arts or the ocean environment have a link describing an amazing exhibit for you . http://www.nyu.edu/pages/galleries/bw/index.html and the blog gooseflesh . Posting these pictures today has me wishing I could go to the beach this weekend !!
I find myself drawn to the woods every day since the snow has melted and each day I discover something new forcing its way out of the earth. The energy stored in these plants never ceases to amaze me. One of my favorite plants came out to great me on my evening walk. It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you the famous Mr Fiddle Head returning to Ontario after a long cold sleep. ( applause)
The spiral form of a fiddle head follows the fibonacci spiral sequence. I am sure most of you know the fibonacci number sequence and many of you use it in the knitted and crocheted items you make ( I am thinking especially of maria kjo here ) . The famous number sequence was outlined by a mathematician from Pisa in the middle ages. It is 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987 ... . You get this sequence by adding the preceding two numbers together to get the next number . The fibonacci spiral follows the same sequence but defines an area instead of a line. Here is what I mean . You will have to click on this little picture to see the number sequence.
Later this week I will go to a non conservation area about 30 minutes west of where I live near a beautiful stream and harvest some of these fiddle heads . It is a very special culinary treat in our home every spring and my youngest daughter was already dreaming up some new recipes we should try this year. Maybe we can share some recipes in a future post. I can't believe it is wednesday already! Have a great day!
Happy Earth Day !! The forest is to be treasured, loved and preserved for our children and our children's children. Nature is so much wiser than we are. As I walk through the woods this past few warm days I couldn't help but notice that the first wild flowers born in the spring are diminutive , beautifully fresh in color, graceful in posture and delicate in shape. They are like new born babies crying to us for nourishment and protection. One has to look closely to find them because they are often shy, hiding under or beneath dry leaves, grass, bushes an trees. If you search for them you will find them and learn to recognize them, call them by name and build a protective relationship with them. If you do this they will continue to grow and reproduce and reward you and your family for many years to come.
I took a walk in the woods within our town last evening after work and I want to share some pictures of some of my little friends that I greeted back after along winter in Ontario. Say hello to Bloodroot , Trout lily, Wood Anemone, Purple Trillium ( she hasn't opened her eyes yet) and Blue Bead Lily. They are very happy to meet you.
In Ontario we have great news that our premier announced a ban of pesticides on lawn and gardens. They will still be allowed in agriculture and on golf courses but this is still a large step in the right direction .
I wanted to end this post with a short list of some of my family's favorite green books : Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder (Paperback)
by Richard Louv; Change the World for Ten Bucks, New society publishers; Ecoholic, Adria Vasil; Tom Brown's Field Guide to Nature and Survival for Children, Tom Brown Jr; The Life of An Oak, Ketor; The Curious Naturalist, John Mitchell;Meetings with Remarkable Trees (Paperback)
by Thomas Pakenham and all of the Audubon Society Field Guides and Peterson Field Guides. Happy Earth Day!!!