Sunday, April 20, 2008

Just a few favorite things.

From Wikipedia, The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (from left to right, top to bottom): Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis at Epheseus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Maussollos, Colossus of Rhodes and the Lighthouse of Alexandria as depicted by 16th-century Dutch artist Marten Heemskerk.

These were the first "Seven Wonders of the World". There has been much argument and proclamation of what the new wonders should be and why. There are engineering wonders, natural wonders, beautiful wonders, and so on. Most of these things are in far away places that most people can only dream about visiting.

I got to thinking about; what would we (Us local folks.) choose as our wonders? I guess that a Redwood Tree would have to be a given, because it was actually was listed as a wonder of the world at one time.

The rest of "My Wonders" would probably be a little strange to most folks, in fact, some folks won't even recognise what I'm talking about. I wouldn't call these my private wonders, because I'm always willing to share.

The Quince would be way up their on my wonders of the world. The Quince is from Mesopotamia, also Persia, the area of the Tigris and Euphrates valleys.

It was thought that the quince might be the forbidden fruit in the Garden Of Eden. But, if Adam bit into it, he would have been immediately sorry, for they are very astringent, they are difficult to spit out, the best way is to scoop it out of your mouth with a finger, and rinse with water.

The smell of the quince is very seductive, it has a delicious odor that only a quince can have. Once it is cooked with sugar, the juice becomes quite edible. My mother makes the most delicious quince jelly. There are many recipes to make quince edible. Some go back to the beginning of time. A Roman cookbook of Apicius gives recipes for stewing quince with honey. One or two Quince trees were always found in the Old-timers orchards.

Another of my passions is the smell of what we sometimes wrongly called Tar Weed, and sometimes rightly called Vinegar Weed. It grows in the Grassland around the edge of Manzanita brush, It gets on your shoes and socks and gives of a very pungent vinegar like smell, only it smells good to me like a sweet vinegar scented perfume. I often stop and pick some and crush it in my hand just to smell it. Any time that you hike around the dry hills of Southern Humboldt or Northern Mendocino you're going to come home with your socks smelling like that.

Another similar plant that I like is the Pennyroyal Mint. The picture looks kinda like it but it grows much tighter together. It's probably all spread out and open like that to show it's anatomy, but it doesn't look right. The picture is about actual size. It grows around the edges of vernal ponds and blooms very profusely in the fall of the year. It also has a pungent odor, but it smells more pepperminty. I could always tell were my uncles went hunting when they came home by what they smelled like. If it was a long hunt, they would smell like everything, including B.O.

Same as Vinegar Weed I like to crush it in my hand just to sniff it. Strangely I never tasted it, as is often my habit. I found out later in life that it was called "Indian Abortion Weed". It will cause a woman to loose her baby if she eats or drinks it as a tea. It is also apparently harmful to the liver. I wonder why I didn't taste it? Lucky I guess.

I have a lot more North Coast wonders that I will add on the bottom of this blog, until everyone gets bored. Nominate your own favorite sight, smell, or thing if you like, but it has to have something to do with the North Coast!


Fred said...

Pennyroyal is said to repel mosquitos if you crush the leaves and rub them on your skin.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I've heard that. It will supposedly repel all kinds of insects.

ben said...

My friends who raise livestock complain about pennyroyal as poisonous. I hear that it was introduced and is not native. I'm not sure about that. There's a tarweed that grows out around Round Valley that is amazingly fragrant and perfumes the air in late June. You can even smell it as you drive. Some people call it Madia. Sometimes, in late summer, I have seen the Redwood pollen when it comes off the groves like yellow smoke. That would be my vote for a local wonder.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ben, that is the same thing that I have pictured. To someone that was born and raised in the middle of "Tarweed" as we used to call it, it is a most welcome fragrance.

Anything about the Redwoods could be a wonder of the world. The pollen seems to be more abundant some years than others. Maybe it's all determined by the way the wind blows, I don't know.

Clarissa said...

you know, I thought it was the fir pollen--that's what I have on my land, fir trees, and the pollen falls in huge drifts, and puffs up like smoke.
I agree with your choices, Ernie. I'd add the trilliums (newcomer name, probably--the white triangular flowers that grow up on the sides of the forests; back east they are called Wake Robin). And the calypso orchids--I have a stand in the woods I live near, and I do treasure it.
And the blooming of the ceanothus or California lilac (and of the whitethorn too--I know folks call it tickbush and such, but it is so beautiful in bloom).
And the sweet wild strawberries, and the thimble berries. I never get enough thimble berries.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Wow, Clarisa. Some of those things are on my list. I just didn't want to post them all at once. The wild strawberries aren't just a wonder, they are a treasure.

Kym said...

Ernie, I got half way to town and realized that I forgot to tip my hat to your post on the post I did. I read yours and went right in a did a similar post.

I agree with everything here so far but I would add Soap Root (Bear Onion 8) ) flowers. I love the way they look and the way they smell.

Fred said...

BTW; While waiting for a sandwich at the One Log House, in Piercy on Sunday, I browsed some of their tourist oriented merchandise. They have an number of books for sale.

Some of them are guides to local perennials, trees, edible plants and such. I didn't open them up and go through them as continued use like that can make them look used, but they looked like they might be fun to have. They cost $13 to $14.95 which I thought wasn't out of line.

In fact, for a tourist trap type place, I thought their prices for everything I looked at were quite reasonable.

Fred said...

8am wrote, "My friends who raise livestock complain about pennyroyal as poisonous.".

I don't know about livestock, but I could swear the book I read about pennyroyal was a book on wild edible plants and it suggested pennyroyal could be used as a tea.

I can't specifically remember doing it, but I think I might have tried some as tea decades ago. I was stoked about all the wild edibles when I first moved up here so was trying out everything, including stinging nettle tea.

Oh; Young stinging nettle plants can supposedly be steamed and eaten like spinach. I tried that. Not impressed.

Ben said...

The new owners of the Peg House down by Leggett have a remarkable display of nature guides. Really serious stuff and an astonishing array for a little shop. Not the lower prices of the books at One Log House, but some specialized books I have never found in large stores. I bought a guide to truffles! Great sandwiches as well. I try to stop every time I go by and give them some support.

Robin Shelley said...

One of my very favorite local natural wonders is the Tule fog that permeates Long Valley in the fall & winter. (I guess you know you're from a small town when a favorite pasttime is watching the fog rise out of the wet fields that surround your home.) Sometimes the fog hugged the ground & it seemed you could see right over the top of it. Yet, at the same time, it was so dense you could barely see the tops of your own boots! It was always amazing to me that I could stand in thick fog under the field lights at Laytonville High School & still clearly see a billion or more stars overhead.