Sunday, 20 March 2016

Fiddlehead Ferns

"Fiddlehead Ferns", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Matteuccia struthiopteris (common names Fiddlehead ferns, Ostrich ferns or Shuttlecock ferns) is a crown-forming, colony-forming fern, occurring in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in central and northern Europe, northern Asia, and northern North America. The genus name, Matteuccia, comes from the surname of C. Matteucci, 19th century Italian physicist. The species epithet, struthiopteris, comes from Ancient Greek words struthio, meaning ostrich, and pterion, meaning wing.

Fiddlehead ferns, or just plain Fiddleheads as they as usually called, are best known as a delicious springtime vegetable with a taste reminiscent of asparagus. First, make sure you do cook them! You can get sick if you eat them raw or don’t cook them long enough. So, in order to prepare them properly, do the following: "With a brush, carefully remove brown scales then wash well under cold running water to remove dirt before cooking; trim woody stems. Boil Fiddleheads in lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes (or steam for 20 minutes.) Serve at once with a drizzle of olive oil or melted butter and a squeeze of lemon."  Canadian Living, 2012  

"I would recommend an experienced guide the first time to be on the safe side. Some Fiddleheads look like the Ostrich fern varieties and are not only not edible but can be toxic. Once you see them for the first time, Fiddleheads become very easy to recognize. They are bright green and can easily be seen amidst the dark soil, twigs, and leaves from which they emerge. They grow in clumps of about about six. Pick them before they unfurl, when they’re about one to four inches in height. You can simply pinch and snap the stem about a half inch to an inch from the coiled head. Look for the more tightly wound Fiddleheads and don’t be afraid to brush away leaves, twigs and logs. Sometimes you’ll find the bigger ones in more hidden, cool areas. Never pick a clump clean. Leave at least a few unpicked Fiddleheads. Otherwise, the fern will die." Fearless Eating Blog, date unknown.

I became aware of Fiddleheads years ago when some good friends took me out into the woods close to their home and showed me how to clearly identify the bright, green swirls of fern that we were busily collecting to cook and serve with our evening meal. I became interested in drawing Fiddlehead ferns after seeing a photo of one in the series I did on the Golden Ratio. The unfurled Fiddlehead fern frond follows the same Golden Ratio of so many other things in Nature. (See my drawing below which demonstrates this).

"Fiddlehead Ferns and the Golden Ratio", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

Ain't Mother Nature amazing?!



Suki sits each morning now near the front door,
waiting for Joycelyn to come back from holiday.
Suki's behavior reveals that she somehow knows that Joycelyn has gone away.  I know how strange that sounds, especially since Joycelyn was here on her regularly-scheduled day at the end of last week and is not expected to be here until her next regularly-scheduled day, tomorrow.

Yet, somehow, Suki's behaviour has changed.  Let me explain... She has now started waiting by the front door every morning from the time she finishes her breakfast about 6:15 until around 8:30 a.m. -- the normal span of time during which Joycelyn might arrive on one of her scheduled days.

As I have told you previously, soon after Joycelyn gave her the laser pointer for Christmas and started using it to play games with Suki, the cat began to wait for Joycelyn by the front door on the regularly-scheduled days when she comes to care for me.  Suki did not wait and watch for her on the other days of the week -- just those days.

Now, however, she has started waiting by the door every morning during the time that Joycelyn might conceivably arrive.  What's going on here?

I had thought that Suki would probably notice something strange when Joycelyn did not arrive tomorrow, but why would she begin this strange waiting ritual now?  How could Suki possibly know that Joycelyn is out of the country on holiday and won't be back until the end of the month?

As I continue my observations and studies, I will keep you informed.  Could Suki possibly be an alien disguised as a cat?  Is that why she is so smart? Of course, I do know some people whose dislike of cats has led them to believe that all cats are invaders from another planet, but these, for the most part, are just very grumpy men! 

As for me, I am doing as well as can be expected.  I saw the doctor this past week and learned that my blood pressure reading is now around 121/70 every time the nurse takes it.  So, that is at least one thing in my life that is under control.  I wish it were as easy to get these various nerve and joint pains under control; however, it seems that some days they just refuse to be controlled.

So far it hasn't really hit me that Joycelyn is away for two weeks, but I expect I will start to feel it when she doesn't show up tomorrow and I have to begin to work with the temporary caregivers who will be coming in her absence.

C'est la vie!



"Icon -- Entrance into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday",
by the hand of Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2016

(Gospel for the Procession with Palms)

After he had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They said, “The Lord needs it.” Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”  Luke 19:28-40

This passage always reminds me of that wonderful moment in the film/stage play "Jesus Christ, Superstar" where the Palm Sunday scene is acted out as the crowd begins to sing:

Heysanna Sanna Sanna Ho Sanna
Hey Sanna Ho Sanna 
Hey J C, 
J C won't you smile at me? 
Sanna Ho Sanna 
Hey Superstar

and the final, poignant refrain:

Hey Sanna Sanna Sanna Hosanna 
Hey Sanna Hosanna 

 CROWD (alone) 
 Hey JC, 
JC won't you die for me? 
Sanna Hosanna 
Hey Superstar

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