I thought this was Panic Grass (Panicum virgatum) aka Switch Grass when I took the photo, but now I’m not so sure. The way I shot the photo doesn’t exactly help with identification.
I think this method is called, “Using Whatever’s Available.” It seems to work. I think it’s kind of interesting and matches the hodge-podge style of the space although I don’t think it would score points for curbside appeal with The Better Homes and Gardens crowd. It’s the kind of look I will miss dearly once the whole neighborhood becomes gentrified and scrubbed clean.
On a practical level I suspect that having the plants pushed so closely together like that will cause air circulation problems and possible disease at some point down the line. We’ve had a lot of rain this season causing tomato plants to grow very lush and bushy. Every local gardener I know has started pulling out leaves and branches to improve air flow.
Oddly enough this is not the first time I have seen this plastic orange mesh employed as a tomato staking method.
Here’s the full garden in case you’re interested. They have more edibles growing in the side yard.
One of the smartest things I did was bring my rubber boots camping. I was able to wade right into shallow wetland areas and take pictures like this.
The boots also made me feel more invincible against a Massassauga Rattler bite. I didn’t see any, although I always let my presence be known when trudging on their turf. I kind of hoped to see one — they’re endangered and all — but the possibility of a bite made me a bit nervous. Ontario is known as a region with very little wildlife that can hurt or kill you. As a result, I think we’ve got a bit of a built-in wuss factor when it comes to remotely dangerous animals. Black bears are probably the scariest threat when out in the wild and I didn’t see one of those either. I mean, they eat berries and insects, both of which were in abundance out there. I reminded myself of that every time I heard a branch break in the forest. We did string up our food to be sure.
I thought I heard a rattler during a pit stop on our long canoe paddle in, but didn’t stick around long enough to find out. Our camping buddies did see one but on a large island further north of ours.
Despite the wuss factor I’m generally not afraid to go trudging out into god knows where in places that are much less safe. Although I will say that I was not able to pee in the bush at night in Florida. I just could not stop thinking about the plethora of poisonous creatures lurking around my exposed butt.
This is kind of a crappy shot but I have an excuse. Just wait and hear me out. I took the picture rather haphazardly while camping with the idea to use it later for identification and not to make a pretty picture. I just held the camera up to the flower and clicked. The camera very near took this picture on its own, really. I acted more as a human facilitator.
This flower was in bloom all over the place but I did not bring my wildflower identification guide, a mistake I would regret many times on our trip.
- Homesteading — the kind that involved living in tents and no machinery — was terribly difficult. I’m sure of it. Of course I already knew this, camping merely drove that point home in a new way. Simple tasks take longer, requiring more planning.
Who wants tea? Well, first you’ve got to make a fire. This might require collecting wood. It will also require making flames first thing in the morning when you are still half asleep. Then you’ve got to wait an eternity for that fire to get hot. Then you’ve got to wait another absurd length of time for the water to heat up. You will probably give up and settle for a lukewarm beverage, if you can wait that long. If there is one thing I hate to go without it is my morning genmaicha. Some campers look forward to that first indulgent post-camping meal. My favorite post-camping experience came the next morning when I got up to make my morning tea. The whole thing was accomplished in minutes with a mere flick of a button. No dangerous half-asleep fire starting required.
- Here’s something you should know before setting out to camp in the wilderness. There are these little insects called Deer Flies. They look an awful lot like regular flies with one exception: regular flies are annoying but basically harmless, while deer flies slice off chunks of your flesh using their special slicing mouth parts. I am convinced that they are collecting human meat for Satan. There is no other explanation. After suffering through five days of their menace, mosquitoes are beginning to look downright civil, polite even. Sure they leave a bump that itches for days and days but by god deer flies have left an indelible scar on my psyche that no ointment will ever heal.
- Note for the future: Do not allow me to camp with small children. Not because camping is hard (except that it is) but because when faced with legions of biting insects, strong winds, and four hours of arm-breaking canoing I am unable to prevent the steady stream of elaborate cursing that will inevitably come pouring from my mouth. Please, think of the children.
- The best way to learn what makes a plant tick is to see it growing in the wild. I consistently glean a lot of knowledge from these experiences. This trip taught me tons about blackberries and blueberries. Both were in season and both were easily found just about anywhere we went. Blackberries were always fully exposed, growing where the sun shone brightly and the soil was poor or non-existent. Sometimes it grew in the sand right at the water’s edge or in open meadows sitting alongside wetlands. Blueberries tended to be underneath the shade of larger coniferous trees or just on the edge of forests. They were always found among the low, sprawling juniper bushes.
- Here’s a tasty camp dessert that I made up on the spot utilizing our foraged berries and provisions we had on hand. Add some sugar and fruit juice to a bowl of wild berries. Break up a few slices of bread into small chunks and add to the mix. Set it aside for 30 minutes or so allowing the bread to soak up the juices. Wrap it all up in foil and set over the fire to cook for about 15 minutes. Enjoy. Go ahead and lick the foil but try to avoid cutting your tongue.
- Camping in the rain is another kind of tricky. Have to go to the bathroom outdoors in the rain? Try to hold it in. That’s all I have to say about that.
- I have a lot to learn about plants. And mushrooms… forget about it. Better to assume they are all poisonous.
- Camping is a reminder of how easy we have it, a demonstration in the excesses in our modern lives that we can probably do without. I learned that baking soda really is the miracle powder. You can use it to scrub dishes, wash hair, brush teeth, and remedy bee stings. It really doesn’t taste that bad when used as toothpaste.
- I can tolerate all manner of dry, bland food when forced. Being surrounded by beautiful landscape makes everything go down easier.