Sunday, April 8, 2012


Friday I was walking along the path I mowed through the woods to my dried-up pond and saw fern fiddleheads. Most of the bracken fern is full grown already, but because I mowed that path it had to start over. I decided I should pick the sprouts and eat them. There's only a split second of time between rhizomes and full grown ferns and I missed the first instant. I'd been meaning to try fiddleheads ever since I caught some Asian women in my woods picking them. Nobody locally considers them food. My research says they might even be poisonous. It's possible the woman picking them had them confused with a similar looking fern back home. But maybe not, maybe they knew something. I had sort of romanticized the memory in my head and convinced myself that they would cure "woman's troubles." I thought maybe I'd eat the fiddleheads and like magic, all the windows in my house would be clean.

Alas, that didn't happen. They made the water I cooked them in a lovely shade of green. They had a nice texture, like very tender asparagus, and almost no flavor. I put butter on them so they mostly tasted like butter, and that's always good.

After I made my video just now I wondered if I documented the original inspiring event at the time. Seems like something I would do. I searched this blog and my tumblr blog from before I had this one but found nothing. So I searched my email. Good old Gmail. I found this account of that day, 3/18/08.
I forgot the keys to the work truck this morning so I had to come back home to get them. To my surprise I see a car parked there. What the?! Nice shiny Acura. I'm jealous. So I pull up and open the locked gate and go in the driveway. I see two people in shiny visors and particle masks with plastic grocery bags tiptoeing through my woods. I took a picture of their license plate and then went to chase them away. They didn't see me as they were focused on the ground. I had to walk through the briars and bushes to get their attention. The first one I approached off her particle mask and waved her hands. She was an Asian woman, didn't speak English. She motioned to the other one. She comes over and I explain this is private property and they aren't allowed to be here. She said "Oh, we ahh picking (holds up bracken fern fiddleheads). Good foh women!"

"I'm sure, but you can't pick them here. I'm not insured against you getting snake bit!"

"Solly, solly, we go." And they walked slowly towards the gate, looking at the ground. Whenever they saw a fern sprout they'd bend over and pick it and put it in their bag.

I told them to try the Apalachicola National Forest.

Now I'm sort of sorry I was so mean. Maybe I should have made them show me how to prepare these fiddleheads! What exactly do they do "for women"?

Maybe I should start locking the door to my house when I leave. I'll come home and there will be a crew of Asian women with osteoporosis and cramps in here crowded around Mr. Induction stir frying all the new growth in my woods.

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