Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A day in the wild...

Let me start by saying that this post has nothing to do with cooking or you'll just have to bear with me.

After 7 weeks away in Ottawa, I really had to come to terms with the amount of time I had just spent away from my family and my home.  One of the things I had no idea I was going to miss was just being in nature.  It was such a simple thing that I missed.

The ability to go somewhere without hearing man made noise.

Fortunately, I am able to drive less than 20 min from my home and find such a place.  Even more fortunate am I that I have wonderful family that invites me to share in this place.

I drive the long country road that takes me to this place on a grey day that was threatening rain.

I feel not just that I have escaped from the city, but that I may have been transported back into the times of the settlers.  This may have been my backyard as an early pioneer in these parts.

Paddling around a secluded lake on a day without work.

Its actually the backyard of the hunting camp that is a part of my husband's family.  This day trip was not about hunting though.  It was about reconnecting.  With family, friends and nature.

The hunting camp started with humble beginnings but now features such luxuries as indoor toilets and a tv.

I was excited to get out on the bikes.  I haven't been on an atv run in a long while.  Its a popular past time with my I get to visit with them while exploring a raw and rudged landscape that swings from bold and beautiful to other-worldy and alien.

The familiar trees were oak and sumac.  Amazing that these trees could grow on top of not much more than rock.  The ground cover plants started to take on alien life forms.

Down a pine-needle filled pathway we discovered the gateway
to Scanlon Lake (or as some maps say Sexton Lake). 

The lake was misty and quiet.  Like glass laid in front of the rocks at the shoreline.  I could picture native gatherers crossing this body of water in stealthy canoes.  

We took our lunch break and enjoyed the peaceful quiet.   I could image early settlers fishing in small boats or playing one of the first recorded games of hockey. 

This was a relative of mine back in the early 1900's (picture actually taken in the Tweed area I believe).

I could picture this as my home.  I could be a hunter/gatherer and live in this land.  My mind began to race with the possibilities.  Is there enough in this rocky area to survive?  Our tour pressed on and my eyes were trying to spot the possibilities...

I suddenly wished I had spent the last 7 weeks reading Steve Brill's book call "Identifying & Harvesting Edible & Medicinal Plants in Wild (and not so wild) Places" I have no idea what these berries were.  They had a kind of spike on their I took the hint and moved on.  It was on the verge of rain all I was glad that I HADN'T brought the book with me.

Mushrooms are another thing I know virtually nothing about...I can spot a puffball and a morel with confidence, but that is where I draw the line.  These white suckers were enormous!  Probably could have made a meal out of each of them....but I was smart enough to take pictures now and do the research later.

One of the great things about this property is the personal history.  There is a monument built to my mother-in-law's parents Chester and Sarah.  It represents a spectacular view of the property and a connection to nature that is being passed down through the generations.  Owen is the next family member in our wee family that has yet to see the monument. 

On the plaque is the phrase "Some people go their whole lives, without seeing anything like this".  A pause to reflect how true that statement really is.

At what felt like the peak of a mountain, the landscape started to feel alien.  The groundcover plants looked like they should have been grown in an aquarium.  The textures of these plants were spectacular!  Spikey stars with bright orange mushrooms erupting from them. 

Like coral but on the surface of a rock! 

Wild strawberries and their runners in action.

Moss that looks like shag carpeting...

Juniper berries by the bucketload...but not quite ripe enough.

Moss that appears to form little higways aross the rocks...

I could imagine pioneer beaver trappers traversing through land like this to make their wages.

The rocks suddenly changed the colour of the landscape!

We could see the rain coming in the distance and decided to head on back to the camp. 

I had one last commune with the landscape before it was time to head back to my home in cottage country.  My mind was filled with thoughts of early settler life, getting back to basics and reading that encyclopedia by Steve Brill.  I vow to know more edible plants the next time I get invited back to the hunting camp.

What do you do to escape the urban sprawl and get back in touch with our natural selves?


  1. Oh, that small red berry with the green leaf was wintergreen! Truly tasty as a nibble, and dries well for tea. Pinch off a bit and the smell should be overwhelmingly minty-wintergreen like a commercial gum. Karen

  2. This looks like a great place to look for huckleberries, cranberries, and wild blueberries. Steve Brill's book is great, we have toured with him several times for the last 4 years.