This is our fourth spring in at the old farmhouse and while I've covered every square inch of our property, I haven't spent as much time in the back woods as I would like. High time I changed that, I thought, and that's just what I did.
Friday evening, the Girl Twin and I headed to our 'outback', with a couple of plastic bags, on the hunt for wild violets. And while I found beautiful wild flowers, including a red trillium in brilliant bloom, the call of the violet seemed to elude me. Before long, the Girl Twin, never one for bugs, left me to my own devices while she returned to the comfort of the farmhouse. I soldiered on because I truly believe this woods has every type of wild edible I am hoping to find, it's just going to take some sleuthing. Eventually, where the forest opens up to a narrow seasonal creek, I indeed found a small patch. I quickly picked what I could find, but I needed two cups and I had, at the most, two tablespoons. I walked into the woods along the creek but there was nary a sign of purple, so I retraced my steps, and continued westwards, following the divide between empty cornfield and woods. A few yards down, I found another small patch, and as I picked away, I casually glanced to my left to see violets continuing on along the tree line for as far as the eye could see. "Sweet Ginger Brown!" I declared, with a tinge of excitement. (Can you name that movie?)
So for the next hour, I looked for open violet blossoms, while trying not to trample on any blooms still in bud, and slowly filled up my bag. As I worked away, stopping every now and then to stretch my back muscles, and enjoy the view around me, I realized how rare it has been for me to enjoy solitude in the woods alone. And while I don't go back there often, I am familiar with the area, and I felt completely at ease. The wind would pick up at times, with a rushing sound as if it wanted to chase me in a game of tag and before long, I could hear them. At first there was the quick sense of someone being there, which quickly gave way to...oh, it's them....the deer. I worked quietly, and before long I could hear them walking nearer and nearer to me. When it seemed like they couldn't get any closer, I slowly lifted my head and partially raised myself up from my squat position and glanced over the brush hoping for a quick glimpse. It was magical on that warm spring evening to wait for a spotting of a white tail or two, knowing this was my reward for working quietly in their habitat.
And then, not unlike someone waking you during the best dream you've had in a very long time, the Artist and Callie came bounding over the hills of the cornfield shouting my name. And I had to reply, and all I could do for them to hear me, as they worried why I was taking so long, was to yell back at them in return. My voice echoed all over those hills and around the trees but while I still had the chance, I quickly turned around in the direction I had first been watching and there it was...a big white tail bounding up and down and away from me with lightning speed. My reward received, just enough incentive to return and forage again.
I was a little overzealous with my mad picking skills and ended up doubling the required amount of violets required for a batch of wild violet jelly. But that's okay, I just made two batches. I used this recipe and this one as my guides. I was a little thrown the next morning when my steeped flowers were in a sea of green water. The first recipe mentions something about it turning purple, but that doesn't happen until you add lemon juice. Thank goodness for those colour wheel lessons.