Sunday, October 14, 2012

Wild Vitamin C, Feeling Brighter in Dark Weather

Photo of rose hips and water drop on fence, by Karl-Ludwig G. Poggeman, Flickr Creative Commons license. **

Yesterday was a dark, Northwest fall day. The sky and the air were the color of middle-grade slate.

To me, this weather is a bit like having hot weather all the time, or truly frigid weather all the time -- one gets tired of it. Also, cloudy weather lacks drama. Days like yesterday fail to provide the comfort of furrowed clouds before a snowstorm, or the excitement of racing clouds before a thunder-shower.

Here the entire day, morning to actual nightfall, has the light quality of 6:30 p.m. in winter. And it's considered very routine.

Thus, this afternoon I decided to do cheery things. I’d exercise and go to a busy, brightly lit space – a large library. I’d walk in the crowds, use the Internet, listen to indie power-pop bands on earphones. 

(If you’re wondering, I listened to The Bears, Mates of State, Two Door Cinema Club, Tennis, Matt & Kim, and some things that came up randomly on Pandora.)

These things helped enormously. I felt socialized, cheerful. However, I’d told myself that I’d also go to a park and do plant-ID-ing.

But the minute I set foot outside the bright library, I thought, “Oh, why leave the light?”

I'd decided, though: I would see which plants were turning color. I’d take the bus to the East Side suburbs.

Nightfall approached as I reached Kirkland a half hour later.  The dark weather had brought it on earlier – and the days were getting shorter.   

In a park near the bus stop I found rows of salal plants and pulled off handy clusters of the round, dark berries. Some were dried but flavorful, like slightly grainy raisins. Round, fresh ones burst with flavor. I loved them. It was great to find them still around, late in the season, too.
Photo of salal leaves and blossoms by La.Catholique, Flickr Creative Commons license.

Pure usefulness must be why the Scottish horticulturist/explorer David Douglas took salal back to the UK for use in English gardens. He knew a good shrub when he saw it!

Around a corner, the bright orange and red urn shapes of rose-hips burst from dark shrubbery. Roses gone by! They were large, which is handy because it means more orange flesh for each mass of seeded insides.

Reaching for a large, dark-red one, I bit it and chewed its softness, feeling the immediate pop of Vitamin C and of consuming wild nature on a dark day. Everything seemed to brighten around me.

A man in his 30s passed and asked in surprise, “Is that a…tomato?” I told him what it was – he nodded, knowing what a rose hip was. “Vitamin C!” I said. He laughed and passed on toward the grocery store. 

Photo of rose hips in profile against white sky by Duncan Harris, Flickr Creative Commons license.

Now massed in a bag for making jelly are about a pound of rosehips, their flesh orange and red, their furled leaf ends curling friskily.

As full dark came on, the orange rose hips could just barely be made out, springing out from the abundant shrubs. Plenitude and brightness in the dark. 


So, that was Saturday. Sunday dawned much brighter, the sky white instead of dark-gray.  I’ve seen the contrast and observed enough to be glad for the light in the day.

It's also nice to have those pretty rose hips in the refrigerator. Now, to get some cheesecloth or a jelly

Photo of rose hips in a glass bowl by Wonderlane, Flickr Creative Commons license.

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