Ventures in the Valley

Early on Saturday morning I wandered down into the valley. I made my way down to the river which was swollen with all of the rain that we have had over the past few days. The sound of the rushing waters made it through the woods up to nearly the entrance to the valley, which is unusual.

Along the way I saw a lot of grape vines extending their tendrils and growing into the plants around them. While making some cordage with grape vines earlier this year, I discovered that the growing tips of the vines have a sweet, tart, grape flavour to them. So I snipped off the tips that you see in the photo below and nibbled on them. It would take a lot to fill my belly though.

The flowers above below to the Soapwort (Saponaria officinalis), or Bouncing Bet - which is a delicate, easily broken plant. The stalk is full of liquid and it gets its name from the fact that the leaves contain saponins. Wikipedia has an entry that describes these compounds:
Saponins dissolve in water to form a stable soapy froth; this is thought to be due to their amphiphilic nature. The word sapon means 'soap', referring to the permanent froth saponins make on being mixed with water. Soapwort, Saponaria officinalis also called "Bouncing Bet" in the carnation family is the quintessential saponin-producing plant. The plant contains mildly poisonous saponins, as reflected in the genus name from the Latin sapo, meaning soap.
So all you need to do if you need a quick wash etc... is grab a handful of the leaves, squish them up with some water and you will have some soapy water with which to scrub. Nature sure seems to provide...

The valley is full of snails. Boil up a few of these for a rather chewy and dull meal if you'd like. I'll stick with sandwiches.

The grape vine leaves seem to fill in every spot to take advantage of the light filtering down through the trees.

The very young leaves can be nibbled, and cooked up as greens.

I sat for a while on the river bank.

I listened to the water rush by and wondered where it was all coming from, and what it had passed and witnessed along the way.

And then a peculiar mass of shapes in the distance snapped me out of my reverie - it appeared to be a mass of eggs. On closer examination, it was a mass of Golf Ball eggs.

A hole in the ravine bluff above me looks like it was dug by an animal. Perhaps dug by whatever laid those Golf Ball eggs.

I sat for a little longer but the heat and the humidity began to get to me.

A week or so ago I had made a small fire down in the valley, but it was too hot for that.

So I struck out again onto the path leading out of the valley again and made my way home.



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