Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FiddleHeads On The North Side Of The House

Thought I was too late to take proper pictures of fiddleheads...  apparently not.  The wonderful thing about photography (from my, an amateur's perspective) is the rather gaping canyon between what you feel you have introduced to film (or charge coupled device, take your pick), and what you discover upon development.  This picture was one of ten or twelve that I took taking great care with focus and depth of field.  It has a lovely spring/gothic appeal to me.  You wouldn't believe the odor of a fiddlehead.  Aromatic MSG.  If umami had a smell this would be it.  Rich, cooked vegetable stew, but somehow in the air, as surprised to fly in your nose as you are to inhale it.  And of course,  alien.  Older than Everest, the Atlantic Ocean, Mammals, and the limestone beneath it.  Way, way before flowering plants. 

I had never thought much of fiddleheads until eight years ago I bicycled to the Deam wilderness and halfway illegally camped about three hundred yards off the main hilly road to the firetower, in some old white pines.  I pitched my tent there, alone, wilst drinking an unbelievably welcome six pack of beer (yeah, I stopped at the bait shop, somewhat guiltily, off 446 and bought the beer to haul back up that awful hill on the causeway with my forty or fifty pounds of gear....)  The sun was setting and All Things Considered was playing in my earbuds.  Finally I got into my tent and with the last rays of the sun looked over and saw coming up through the pine needles (the smell of those.... don't get me started) three lovely fiddleheads.  I thought back to an article I had read in fifth grade about such things.  I couldn't think of another time I had given them much thought.  That seemed crazy now, as they obviously were beautiful when you were half drunk laying sideways in a tent looking out of it in the middle of nowhere.  How could you miss it.  Huh?

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