Sunday, August 9, 2020

Bumblebee drama

Today, a cloudburst and quick thunderstorm came and went in the middle of an otherwise sunny day. After it was over, I went out to photograph the wet fireweed in the stormy light:

The rain caught this bumblebee in the fireweed. She crawled to the underside of a blossom to ride it out, but it wasn't really great protection, so after it was over, she was soaking wet and unable to fly:

But Mother Nature trained her daughter. As soon as the sun came she oriented herself so that her back was at 90 degrees to the sun:

As she warmed up and regained agility, she went to the middle of several blossoms and collected some nectar as a snack:

She was still very exhausted and had to take frequent pauses:

She took several breaks to sit on horizontal surfaces and wipe herself down with her... arms? Front legs? Whatever you call them on a bee:

At this point, it was warm and dry, and the other insects had returned, including several types of bees and hoverflies. They all fed from adjacent blossoms and seemed to have no rivalry.  


Except for those horrible white-faced hornets! One came by and seemed to attack her, twice! But it didn't seem to faze her as she continued warming up. Finally, her fuzz got fluffy again, and she lifted up and took off into the sunshine. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Wow a Shiny Yellow Ball in the Sky

It's been an unusually cool and rainy summer, but I'm not complaining. Last summer was very hot and had lots of smoke from local fires, so this is much more pleasant. Also, I feel like it's been at least interspersed with a bit of sun, so not quite like Ketchikan. Anyway, this afternoon, the sun came out for the first time in several days, and it's actually warm and sunny outside.

"At the end of the storm, there's a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of a lark..."

I hurried up and transferred the laundry from the clothesline on the porch to the clothesline in the sun.

Then I propped the screen door open.

When I plopped back down at my home office desk (the dining room table), I couldn't help but feel grateful to live here.

DL says a lot of people save for a whole year to spend a week or two like we spend our whole lives. If we have to be stuck at home, I'm grateful that my home is here, where we are surrounded by woods and nature, even alongside our own driveway.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Notes from Here and There

Miss Thistle sitting pretty:

Miss Thistle flopped:

Miss Cricket sitting pretty:

Miss Cricket flopped:

I find myself with a lot of thyme on my hands:

This is a spruce sawyer. They have legs tipped with velcro, so when they land on you, you have to pluck them off.

This is a hoverfly. Like bees, they drink nectar and pollinate flowers. They can hover in midair, like helicopters, and usually do so while at a flower. I'd never seen one actually still before!

Bumblebee butt!

The wild raspberry canes in our yard have been very productive this year! We've had so many crumbles, with blueberries and rhubarb, too!

Do you think they are comfy? I sure hope they are comfy.

The thyme inspired me to make cod chowder:

A fine thyme for all!

It's about thyme!

Our CSA shares are getting more varied as summer progresses:

The raspberries keep coming!

Salmon enchiladas:

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

We are well into berry season now

Here is some wonderful guidance for a world full of wonders.

Given to us by Adrienne Blatchford.

Alaska friends, some reminders for people that are picking berries and foraging plants on Indigenous land. I share these because First people have been great cultivators since time immemorial, leaving little to no footprint and have maintained a healthy eco-system while doing so. Please honor the lands where ever you are as if they were the lands your Ancestors have turned to dust and become a part of.

•Before you head out, never say I'm going to get....or catch...or pick lots....say I'm hopeful. I hope that we are blessed with a bountiful harvest or catch. We have a spiritual symbiotic relationship with the land, waters and what they provide, they hear your spirit. We are taught not to be boastful about the bounties from the land.

•be prepared. Bring a snack, water, bug repellent, your protection, whether it be a gun, knife or big animal spray, a big garbage bag just incase there is downpour.

•always let someone know where you are going. Alaska is a vast land of many different terrains. If you go missing, we need to know where to look for you.

•Dress for the weather.

•Say a quick prayer for guidance and protection. If you happen to run into a big animal, remind yourself not to be scared. They smell fear. Talk to it and let it know you're feeding your family. NEVER RUN! Slowly walk backwards. If it starts to approach you, offer your berries and show it your amaks, your breasts. Lots of stories behind it, sounds crazy, but it works.

•if you don't know what it is, don't pick it.

•leave the easily accessible berries and plants (close to the road, trail and bottom of the hill) for elders and folxs who are not as physically able as you.

•people are going to disagree and argue with me, but I was taught that berry combs are not for blueberries, but for cranberries and blackberries. Blueberries are perennials and have fragile branches while blackberries and cranberries are evergreen branches and much sturdier.

•dont pick all the berries or plants in one patch. We have been taught to leave some behind for the birds and animals who help us ensure the seeds are spread and plants and berries return.

•if there is only one flower, plant or just a few berries in a patch, leave them and move on to the next place.

•thank the berries and plants as you harvest them. Let them know you are nourishing your body or using them for medicine, feeding your family, helping elders. They hear you and will come back to offer themselves. That symbiotic relationship again. Permission and consent. They give themselves to you. Your good luck (weird word) will continue to also be bountiful when you respect the land and what is given to you.

•leave a small offering before or when finished with your harvest, different areas practice this. A bead, tobacco, a piece of candy, a rock. Something to let the others out there know you are thankful for their guidance, the land your appreciation for your offering from them. We stick it under the tundra or a rock, lots of stories around that too.

•if you bring in trash, haul it out. You wouldn't just leave trash laying around your yard or throw it out anywhere. Our Mother earth is hurting enough already. The places you go that have wild sustainable resources can only stay that way if we take care of them.

•watch your surrounding while you are out. Listen for the Anaqtiiyuuqs, the raven. They will alarm you before you see a big animal. If they start squawking, its time to go, NOW! If the swallow start flying high, the rain is coming. If you get lost, ask a raven where to go. It will guide you back to safety.

•watch where you're walking. When you break the branches of the berry bushes, they aren't coming back. When you disturb the tundra, you are changing the ecosystem. The moss and other plants also have that symbiotic relationship with each other, and your steps can interrupt the root systems.

•If you're on the bogs, make sure you stay on the tussocks (mounds of grass) You never know how deep the water is in between. Some are like black holes.

•never follow a person if you see someone in the distance that you don't know. They're calling for your spirit.

•if someone that is transparent and floating approaches you and asks for water, take off your shoe or boot and fill it with water and offer it to the person without making eye contact. If you're not wearing shoes, pretend you are, or use your bucket. It is someone who has succumbed to the elements and is wandering. They have the ability to take you with them to wander if you make eye contact. Take it how you want, but I honour our stories and instructions when we encounter these things.

•if you don't know how deep the water is, don't go into it, especially if you are alone.

•have fun. Make the best of your time on the land while you reset your internal clock.

•make sure you share a portion of your first harvest with an elder or single parent household or with someone who has a hard time getting on the land. When you help take care of our community, it will take care of you.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Good Eats

I have a backlog of food photos to share! I have organized them by meal.


Omelette with turkey, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, topped with queso fresco and chives from the garden:

The breakfast the morning after taco night, with leftover guacamole and pico de gallo:

Yum! My love of pico de gallo is why I always keep my knives razor-sharp.

Huevos rancheros, with black beans, salsa from a jar, and cilantro from the garden (and of course queso fresco because what is life without cheese?):


Grilled cheese and tomatoes!

Oh I guess that's it for lunches. They are a bit less interesting...


Guacamole and pico de gallo in the making!

Now everything is ready for tacos!

Heating tortillas and beans:

Pan-frying the fish (this is cod, but I also do this with rockfish and halibut):

Oh dang I never photographed our actual tacos. Oh well.

OK here is moosey noodle soup with collard greens:

Here are crabcakes!

We had crab legs for DL's birthday dinner, and the Best Thing in the World to do with leftover crab is crabcakes! I thought of the perfect thing to go with crabcakes; this potato salad that has green beans!

A perfect meal!

Here are roast veggies, from the least exciting veggies from our CSA: red beets, yellow beets, and kohlrabi. I added olive oil, salt, and thyme from my garden:

They came out... okay. How exciting can roast veggies be?

A fine thyme was had by all.

This is chicken and peanut stew:

The recipe hails from Ghana. I learned about it on the underside of a peanut butter jar. I had forgotten that it calls for sweet potatoes, so didn't buy any. I substituted yellow potatoes and carrots. It is topped liberally with cilantro:

It's absolutely delicious, and it inspired me to order a Ghana cookbook. I wonder what else they eat in Ghana!


My rhubarb is going nuts, as usual, so I got some strawberries to make a classic strawberry rhubarb pie. That combination is just so magical. The syrup that comes out is like ambrosia. Well, I got lazy and didn't feel like making a pie, so I stewed the berries and rhubarb with sugar and lemon juice to make a simple compote:

It had the same magical flavor as a pie filling, without me having to make a pie!

Here is an obligatory photo of my faithful kitchen supervisors:

The fireweed is juuuuuuust starting to bloom. They don't look so vivid pink in the rain: