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Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

The Lowly Bunchberries

August 28, 2011

Tags: food, berries, blackberry, blueberry, bunchberry, Cornus canadensis, famine, fat, August, meat, Native Americans, pemmican, protein, The Lowly Bunchberries, traveling

Bunchberries are the impossibly red fruit of a low-growing dogwood variety, Cornus canadensis (for all practical purposes, these name should suffice - although there exist slightly different species with different names). They are of such a screaming red that the non-initiated certainly take them for poisonous. They are not!

In August, bunchberries ripen in the woods of Maine, and their beauty can't be overlooked; I always think they are sent from Heaven. They mix well and taste good with any other berry. Yesterday, we were berrying along a path deliciously flanked by branches laden with heavily with blackberries, and we had blackberries plus bunchberries "full" - so full that we decided to skip dinner altogether.

The blackberries'tart sweetness is well-known, they are very fruity, whereas bunchberries seem disappointing on first try. That is, if you try them alone. They are mealy and unassuming. But mix them in with blackberries or blueberries - and you don't consider them bland anymore: they shine. Their red color dazzles among the blue-black, and their taste and crunchiness are unsurpassed and satisfying.

The Native Americans used bunchberries to stretch their berry harvests and used them in pemmican, a mixture of berries, fat and dried meats (for protein) - a food that kept well, and was used for traveling and famine.

But bunchberry is more than a second-rate "ersatz" berry. It is considered an ant-cancer food (as are most plants that aren't poisonous, it seems). Once you have had the mix, you don't want to eat your blackberries without the bright red bunchberries ...

World Oceans Day 2011

June 8, 2011

Tags: water, August, congee, Earth, earthquakes, family, fires, floods, Gaia, Gaia hypothesis, grape leaves, Maine, morning ritual, ocean, plagues, rains - torrential, renewal, sauerkraut, sencha tea, summer, tea – green, tornados, tsunamis, vermin, whales, World Oceans Day 2011

Water is the most precious stuff of life. We drink it, we bathe in it, we revere it.

This morning I had a shower, then drank a sencha tea and ate a bowl of congee with sauerkraut and grape leaves. None of my morning ritual would work without water.

In August we will return to our cabin in Maine. It is small, but it is at the ocean, and so important for our family – most of our renewal starts there, every summer.

What is important today, on World Ocean Day 2011: That you tell at least one youngster to work on saving the waters, the whales, the life of our old Earth.

You know the Gaia hypothesis, don’t you? According to the Gaia hypothesis, our old Earth, Gaia, is an organism of her own – and we are just some lice in her hair. Isn’t that exactly the impression she gives us presently? She is shaking herself to get rid of the vermin on her surface by sending tsunamis, fires, tornados, earthquakes, torrential rains, floods, and plagues.

Regardless, if the Gaia hypothesis is right or wrong – it helps me to see my task better: To protect our old Earth as much as I can. Because she is the only home we have.
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

Tags - see also the non-captalized entries below!