Going on a Nature Walk at Work - Cattails, Juniper Berries, and Mors Kochanski

I took 30 minutes over my lunch today to walk the 1-mile track around the building where I work. The trail is overgrown and winds back behind the farther parking lot area - no-one else appeared to be walking at that hour. The temperature is 3 degrees below freezing and the wind was brisk. I had on a cotton t-shirt, a thin dress wool sweater (for work), and on top of that I put on my $3 Salvation Army wool sweater (for my camping and outdoors use), a thick felt coat, and thick, insulated leather work gloves. Knowing I wasn't going to be out for long, I didn't wear my outer layer wool pants (again, from the Salvation Army - they sell a lot of wool for cheap!), and after all I think I'd look a bit silly pulling them on over my polyester and viscose blend dress pants in the office.

In keeping with Mors Kochanski's dictum "The more you know, the less you carry...." I am beginning to attune myself to the flora around me and learn the uses of plants and fungi, and materials in the wild, and so I walked slowly and observantly.

On my walk, I strolled past burdock plants, gone to seed and dried. I believe at this time of year the roots are at their biggest, storing all the energy for a new year. Dig them up, roast them up and you have easy carbohydrates.

Clusters of berries on juniper shrubs were numerous and a wonderful bright blue - these would add vitamins and flavour, and some carbohydrates in a stew. I imagine they would make a refreshing, albeit slightly bitter, tea.

A dead tree trunk, festooned with several pounds of oyster mushrooms waiting for me to roast, or boil up. They're still waiting.

From the dead trees, thick, broad shingles of bark lay about the ground - these would make great water-shedding shingles for a shelter.

20 foot high tangles of dried wild grape vines would contribute quick cordage and some structure to a shelter - similar to Mors Kochanski's 'Super Shelter' design. The cedar and juniper bushes would thatch holes, and so would pine and spruce boughs.

Thick nodules of dried pine resin would patch and would make a great fire starter for the generous amounts of dead-standing firewood laying and standing around the path.

Getting a fire going with my carbon Mora and a piece of quartz stone laying around the trail would require grabbing the plentiful growths of weed head fuzz, fluffy seed pods and cattail heads for easy tinder.

The cattail fluff in abundance can be pushed into the seams of clothes for insulation, and to make an easy duvet or blanket on which to sit. Just mind you don't get the fluff near your eyes, it can be quite irritating (I can say that from experience!).

The cattail rhizomes laying under the water make a good tasting and carbohydrate rich meal (here, however, I am not talking from experience - next time I go camping or walking in the woods near some cattail rushes, I am going to cook some up over a fire and try them...).

An overturned trunk revealed a partially enclosed shelter area which could be nicely built out for warmth, comfort and protection from the elements.

Were I to decide impulsively not to return to the office one innocent day, I could make up a nice little camp for a while, until at least the security patrols asked me to leave the property...



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