Sunday, May 6, 2012

what to do in mud season

Early May in Rangeley, Maine is mud season.

The north country doesn’t really have spring like the rest of us…the long, cold winter up there sort of just segues into a season of fog, chilly raw days, and mud. Lots of mud.  It’s a bit early for fishing, much too cold to swim, all the locals get out of town to Florida for the month, and every restaurant in town closes down.

It’s real quiet.

On the drive in to town, in the last 50 miles or so we passed not one car on the state highway.

We did see 4 moose.

So, when my family went to Rangeley this week for a few days, our entertainment options were a bit limited.  There is one thing to do this time of year that is an annual rite of passage. 


Fiddleheads are the curled fronds of a just emerging fern, harvested as a vegetable.  Nearly everyone in town has their secret fiddleheadin’ spot.  They tend to grow in wet areas along the rivers.

My grandfather took me fiddleheading when I was younger. He was a quintessential old Maine guide, tough and woods savvy.  He always knew of a good spot to find ‘em.  He picked fiddleheads by the gallon and stored them for the year.  He would eat them boiled, steamed, canned, fried, in pancakes and even pickled.  Some studies show that fiddleheads eaten in large quantities can be toxic but he lived to be 99 years old.

So, this week we went off to that same spot by the Dead River my grandfather took me to go fiddleheading. It was still a bit early and the fiddleheads were on the small side.  We were only able to scrounge a few.  My two little charges were skeptical, or shall we say, not as familiar with the delights of fiddleheads.  But that’s okay, they’ll get there...fiddleheads are a learned appreciation.

For those of you on my mailing list, you might have noticed the delicate, curled fronds on the back of every postcard.  Now you know the story.


Frances Clements Fawcett said...

What a lovely story about mud, fiddle head ferns and family! Love the old photo alongside your to learn how you came up with the imagery.
Thanks for tonight's smile Kristina.

In Delight from the other coast!
: )

Kristina Wentzell said...

thanks for stopping by, Frances!

I'm glad it brought a smile. I just love that old photo of my grandfather--my gosh the clothes they wore in them middle of the woods! Love it.


Vickie said...

What a wonderful world you just introduced me to - I had never heard of fiddlehead ferns - and I love the way you integrated your art into your heritage!!! I'm going to dig up some old photos of my ancestors in the wood of Georgia! Loved the post!

Kristina Wentzell said...

@Vickie- Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words!

I'm glad I inspired you to look up your ancestors. It's such a rich topic to draw from.

sarah makes pictures said...

Hey Kristina, thanks for teaching me a new term - fiddleheading. This is something completely outside my experience!

I want to compliment your postcard design. You've managed to fit a lot of important information into a small space, and it's still elegant and easy to read. Nicely done.

Kristina Wentzell said...

Sarah, thanks for stopping by. I love sharing all things related to the north woods of Maine. I no longer live there but it is very near and dear to me.

re: the postcard--thanks for noticing. It is always a challenge to get all the info across in such a tiny space.