Yesterday, Jan 2, I went on my first hike of the year. And while much of the country is still seasonally dormant, Southern California is coming alive.
I often kid with people and tell them SoCal has only two seasons, green and brown. For the most part, it seems to be true. Our green season can begin as early as December, when the first good rain fall typically begins. Often times, by Late March and April, many areas begin turning brown. I guess one could say some of SoCal begins it’s Spring in December and it’s Summer by April. In the area I enjoy, February is peak Spring. [I digress]
The day was beautiful. The ominous clouds set a backdrop stark in contrast to what we are used to—Sunny Days. The forest floor was coming alive in green. Soon, the area will be rich with wild edible and useful plants. By February, the ground will be covered in thistle, miners lettuce, nettles, and much more. Yesterday, the beginning of life was apparent.
Milk thistle was showing it’s colors and soon enough this little plant will be a noble giant, leaves often reaching a length of eighteen inches or more
Ragweed, that wild plant often cited as being the leading cause of allergies in the U.S. was also ever present, though some of the ragweed I saw looked like it was already going to seed. How odd considering we are just entering our spring
Ever powerful nettles were beginning to carpet the forest floor. Useful for so many things, this delectable edible will be ready for wild crafting in February, though there is no reason one couldn’t enjoy it now.
Indian Cucumber, with it’s showy little flowers, was beginning to start its’ climb. The seeds of the ripe fruit were often used for painting. Once the spiky covering is removed from the fruit, the membrane left behind is an amazing loofah.
Fields of sorrel already covered the ground. It’s tangy flavor is a delightful addition to your wild crafted salad. I often grab a few leaves of miners lettuce and one or two small sorrels and just pop them in my mouth. The silkiness from the miner’s lettuce, combined with the tartness of the sorrel is a true delight
Mallow, or cheeseweed, will add an interesting texture to your salad. Eaten by itself, one notices how mucilaginous it becomes the more you chew it. This mucilaginous ability was reason why this plant was a favorite used to soothe sore throats.
There was so much more, but I stopped taking pictures. By focusing on the individual plants I was missing the bigger picture. I literally couldn’t see the forest, because I was focused on the trees. So, I just enjoyed the rest of my hike and allowed myself to be in the moment.