Hard times, people. Were we relying on the woods for substantial calories, we would be starting to eye those wiry jackrabbits that run across the Capital City Bike Path.
Regarding mushrooms, checked the old mushroom log near my house, the one that’s been producing food since August. Provider Log, we call it. Pocketed a last few old oysters, now dried out and frozen, old holdouts. Shivered. No velvet stalks; I have been wondering what the limits of these so-called cold-weather Flammulinas are, but they are gone from the logs where they were a month ago. Perhaps they went to Florida.The only berries left are the ones nobody wants, not even the birds. Highbush cranberries. They still line the Yahara River, and many other places. W. and I started picking them, optimistically, in Cowee Meadows, north of Juneau, in July, when they were peach and blush and hard as rocks. We have tried them every now and then ever since. W. made some gorgeous ruby jam in September. Recipes often call for more sugar than berries—anything that requires that much sugar is a stretch to call edible—and these were not ripe. We had trouble admitting the jam’s terrible bitterness and it stood for weeks in the fridge, beautiful, untouched. Finally the cranberries are ripe. But still troubled: “Highbush cranberries have a single seed which is not eaten,” says the Internet, far too late to warn us. Our downfall here is that we despise the act of straining food. Over here we are closer to the Campfire than the Haute school of cuisine. This winter we plan to extract fish from the frozen lakes and sap from city maple trees. We will shoot rabbits, if we find we are up to the violent task. But what is out there now? I mean, outside grocery stores and restaurants. Highbush cranberries, as far as I can tell. I suppose I should get a sieve, and a whole lot of sugar, and try again.