Friday, March 5, 2021

Spring is in the air

 Spring foraging


Hello My Dears,

Spring is in the air, the birds are active and we have the cheerful faces of the aconites to greet us in the wood. I do love this time of the year when nature wakes from its long winter slumber. The sound of the woodpecker hollowing out a dead branch to make its nest tells me it is time once again to forage for those things I need to replenish my medical cupboard. It is also a nice time to enjoy a walk in the woods and see little vestiges of green, those harbingers of spring.

Since young Salley Owens got her scholarship to La Forge, she and Sophia Marlowe have been constant companions and I am missing her company on my foraging walks. I shall have to speak to her after church on Sunday to see how she fares. Lady Elizabeth tells me the girls have been inseparable since school commenced after the holidays. A life long friendship, I hope.

As I was going into the wood, I spoke to Good Tom Meyrick about the taps for the birch trees and he accompanied me into the woods to see if the sap was running. Once the days lengthen and the sap begins to flow it is time to tap the birch tree for a taste of its nectar. This is a special treat indeed. There is naught so sweet as the first juices of the birch, tis like a taste of spring itself.

We selected three trees to tap; you must alternate between the trees so no harm comes to them, and only take enough for your purposes. I filled two jugs and Old Tom, one, this day. It was a day when you can feel the first warmth of the season and we enjoyed a good conversation as we walked.

Tom fashioned the taps from sticks of the elder whose centre is soft and may be easily removed. Once that was done, he bored a hole into each of the selected trees and gently put in the taps. Meanwhile I cast around for a few good rocks to place the jugs on to catch the flow of the sap. Tis a slow process, I will make use of the time waiting to take my basket and forage. Then we may each have a taste of this ambrosia of the woods.

The day was just right for this job, the sun gently warms the air and the wood is heady with the early morning scents of its inhabitants. The daffodils are blooming in cheery little patches here and there lending splashes of sunshine to the earthy floor; the snowdrops just finishing their cycle.

Now the trees are devoid of leaves, it is easy to spot the gauls in the oak trees, needed to make ink. I have been fortunate to find several of those today as well as a nice owl feather to cut for a quill.

Once the jugs were filled, Tom and I made our way back to my cottage where we enjoyed the sweetness of the birch with our lunch of fresh bread, cheese and apples from the store. Days like these are the most enjoyable. I hope you are enjoying the kind of day you like best also.


Old Mary

 The birch sap, ready to enjoy.

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