Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I have prairie spirit!

Yes, I do. Or at least I have access to the Prairie Spirit Trail, a 52-mile pathway from Iola to Lawrence, Kansas. Technically, George could bike to work, but as it is he can barely drive there on time.

A slight rant of a sidebar
He has time management issues, or as I call it, the two-speed turtle complex. There's a plodding, unrushable pace for everyday use, and then a second, clipped gait for sporting events.

I've been taking the pets on this trail since we moved to Kansas. For one thing, it seems to be completely bereft of the swarms of people I'm used to seeing on Colorado trails. This is a great feature, since it means I ignore the leash laws and let the dogs run crazy. It tires them out and leaves me free to forage. I generally walk with the pets and carry a backpack. The past couple of weeks I've found some pretty great things.

Wild grapes
Supposedly four varieties grow in Kansas, though I've only run across the one so far. They are tiny little muscadine grapes, and I had to freeze the bucket of them in order to pull them from the stems intact. They're not something I'd eat off the vine, since I'm not a fan of the seeds. But they have made excellent jelly, and I'm determined to learn how to can or preserve it. Does jelly freeze? That would be much more convenient.

American persimmons
Did anybody else know this was a thing? I hadn't a clue. I've paid $2/fruit during their short season and thought it was great. Now they are free, albeit smaller and still on the trees. They may be a bit more trouble to pick, but they're everywhere. If I only knew what to make from them. One of George's co-workers said you can just freeze the flesh and it's like sorbet. I might try that.

These are pretty common in the midwest though completely inedible. Why am I excited about them? They're supposed to deter spiders. It's worth trying. They give off this light, citrusy smell, and they look pretty in a dish on the table.

With all of the underbrush along the trail, I can also tell that I'll find blackberries or raspberries come spring. And there are still many wild flowers, even in October. The one scary thing is how far you can walk away from everything, miles and miles, and then there's a sudden ruckus in the bushes. Which is about the time I turn around.

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