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The Annual Migration: Summer Foraging

We have just driven 2000 miles east and Michael, bless his heart, has done all the driving. Which gave me ample opportunity to gaze out the window, watching the edible plants go by, and looking forward to lots of summer foraging in lush, verdant Pennsylvania.

We started In New Mexico, where pretty much all I could spot at 80 mph (the speed limits are higher out west) was Melilotus. Interestingly, this plant remained abundant the entire trip, showing how adaptable it is. Its vanilla sweetness makes it destined to be infused in gin very, very soon.

Soon I began to see sumac and elderflower, and I crossed my fingers, hoping the elderflowers in Pennsylvania would not have passed before we got there, and wondering if daily rain would wash away all their pollen and render them less yeasty and delicious, as it was in June of 2015 (The Summer of No Elderflowers).

Next came wild fennel, Queen Anne’s lace, burdock, various mustards, milkweed, spruce tips, sassafras, honey locust, and the beginnings of linden flowers. The further east we got, the more impatient I felt. I couldn’t wait to be out there, exploring, collecting, cooking, and eating.

So excuse me, but I have to go outside now. I have to check the wild garlic patch and see if any bulbs are still worth harvesting. Are the milkweed buds ready? Have the burdock flower stems started? Are the young sassafras leaves tart and lemony? I have sweet fern leaves to gather and I need to see if the garlic mustard has flowered. Are the lindens blooming in the Walmart parking lot? Has the pineapple weed been mowed in the schoolyard? Are the Juneberries fruiting? Are the daylily buds big enough for pickling?

I’ll get back to you, but it may take a while.


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