Thursday, October 29, 2015
A NATURALIST IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD.
Naturalist John Randell gave a slide presentation about trees and under-story plants in our neighborhood and then on up the hill to the top of the Sierra Nevadas. He lives on the same road as I and my neighbors live on, so it was journey through our own neighborhood.
Everything on this table came from nearby and it was a revelation. I tend to think we have two different type of Oak trees, the live oaks from my yard and the huge, magnificent blue oaks that line the road and fill up the hillsides. He showed us cones, and needles from valley oaks, white oaks, red oaks, black oaks. Our journey continued on up the mountain. We looked at and discussed sugar pines, ponderosa, lodgepole and Jeffry pines that smell like butterscotch or vanilla. Huggable trees and what naturalists and scientists have learned from their adaptability. A good thing to think about during our present drought.
In our neighborhood we have vine maples, big leaf maples, the invasive poisonous black locust, alder, Oregon scrub, huckleberries, canyon oak, and a host of plants all managed and used by the local Indians.
What John did was place cards under the plant samples and asked us to guess what they were, from what we had learned in the slide show. The answers are on the cards. We got to roll needles between our fingers, and smell and pinch everything. What a delightful presentation.
Even more interesting, Dixie (whose last name I didn't get) prepared a wild dinner. We drank pine needle tea, ate pine needle cookies; there was edible seeds, shredded wild plant salsa, along with a rice based enchilada. A complete meal. On display were plant based medicines from Indian recipes.
Native Americans thanked the spirits for whatever they took from the land. They never used too much nor did they despoil the land. (More tomorrow along with the kitchen sink.)