Wednesday, November 19, 2014

bitter nut

All photos RIM Park Trail, Waterloo, ON. October 25, 2014.

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This is a grossly overdue posting, but the photos have been lurking on my hard drive, just biding their time. And now is that time...

On my recent southern Ontario tour of Stowaways, people familiar with my forest-y ways offered to take me for walks in the woods. And so, when  I was in Kitchener/Waterloo, poet/prof Tanis MacDonald took me to the RIM Park Trails in Waterloo, which was adjacent to a golf course.

The trails were still recovering from an ice storm the year before, which had felled a lot of trees and/or taken down branches.

Tree trunks, living or dead, usually make for great mushrooming this time of year, but they had signs about not going off path ("Environmentally Sensitive Area. Please Stay on Trail."), so I stayed on the figurative straight and narrow.

So while we saw some birds, which made Tanis happy, I was forced to amuse myself with tangles of wild cucumber and burst-open milkweed pods.

Until we came to this stand of trees, which was a new-to-me species, the Bitternut Hickory. Which is also called the Swamp or Pignut Hickory and is native to Ontario. These trees were apparently at the very edge of the Bitternut Hickory range, so I felt lucky to have seen them.

After standing under their canopy for a while, we shuffled through the leaf litter, trying to find nuts. We had just concluded that the trees must be too old/sick to have produced nuts when Tanis spied one on the middle of the path.

And then we saw them everywhere. We were, as you would imagine, simultaneously proud of ourselves and ashamed.

We each collected three or four of the hundreds on the path.

Later, I gave one to Guiliana Saimirri, the Urban Forest Coordinator for the Urban Forest Coordinator. She's the type of person who collects nuts and seeds and tries to grow them, so she showed me the collection of nuts she had in her fridge, waiting to be planted, and the jars of seed on a shelf over her dryer.

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