Sunday, September 20, 2009


To Charles - Happy 17th Wedding Anniversary!

Today Charles and I celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. The morning breaks much as it did 17 years ago - a bit overcast and misty, the clouds 'thinking' about rain - and yet, the sun breaking the indecision of wet or dry to give us a glorious day.

Seventeen years ago we said our vows under the embrace of maple trees, among family and friends, the trees and woodlands serving as witnesses and supporters. We've loved living our rural life ever since - among too-quickly vanishing farms, tertiary roads, deer, possum, hawks, fox, and cats - ours and neighbors. From growing our own food to frequenting the farms and markets around us, to keeping neighbors bees and planting trees and perennials beds, to driving around the countryside, feeling blessed to live among such rich diversity and beauty.

And so today, I offer these humble cattails and 'ditch' flowers - evidence of the simple joy we take in nature's offering. We'll celebrate by participating in a farm tour - an annual event to showcase our area organic farms and agribusinesses. For dinner, we'll cook the produce we purchase from those who, like us, love living a bit closer to the land.

While cattails may seem an odd choice for a celebration - I offer these humble, often overlooked uses of this roadside dweller: According to Euell Gibbons, whom I admired for his love of the outdoors and recognition of wild foods, cattails are the 'supermarket' of the swamp. Almost all parts of them are edible, and all parts of them are useful:

The rhizome, buried deeply in the muck - can be harvested for the rich flour it produces; the 'potato' like nodules on the roots are harvested and eaten as potatoes, the stalks can be collected in the spring and eaten like water chestnuts, the unripened flowerheads (which later turn brown) can be collected, cooked and eaten like small ears of corn, the pollen can be collected and made into pancakes or used as flour, the seeds can be collected and made into a gruel, the pappus of the seeds (those hairy filaments) were used in WWII to stuff life vests to keep them buoyant, the tall, brown flowers were used to clean chimneys, used in bouquets and flower arrangements, the leaves were woven into mats or used as thatch, and the entire stand of cattails were used to absorb pollutants from lake and river waters.

Amazing - a humble plant and yet filled with so much often overlooked potential. Much like other aspects of the natural world that is often taken for granted until it is gone.

Happy Anniversary, Charles. Happy rural living and many more years of doing so!


Anonymous said...

A lovely painting and a lovely essay on nature.
CONGRATULATIONS Lin and Charles for 17 years of married life, and I hope your day was filled with happiness and that you enjoy a delicious dinner to top it off.

Bruce and I have been a "couple" for 17 years in Nov., married for 13 this past June.

Much happiness to you both.
Lorraine & Bruce

Pat said...

Congratulations on your special occasion. 17 years is a success.

Patti G. said...

Happy 17h Anniversary Lin and C!
That is soooooooo wonderful and your wedding memories are just a bloom of the love and fun for the future!

Karen Gladys Henry said...

Congratulations, Lin and Charles! I wish you many more years of enjoying nature and happiness together. Love, Karen

Claire M said...

Congratulations on your special years together and best wishes on the road ahead!!

Joan said...

Happy Anniversary!!! You and Charles seem like such a good pair and enjoy life so much. Here's to many, many more happy years together. The cattails are lovely...just simple elegance!

Connie said...

Congratulations dear friend! You are so blessed.

Jona said...

Congratualtions on your marriage anniversary, dear Lin and Charles!!!!

Majestic painting! Just sublime! Big applause!

Hugs and kisses, Jona