Once upon a time when we first came to France it was sunny all day long with not a cloud in the sky. Is this all a dream?
This year we are still waiting for summer to start. With the recent weeks of cool weather and copious rain the grass is lush, the cows are hidden amongst the buttercups and the wildflowers are prolific.
This morning we went for a walk up to Notre Dame des Roches and along the faitral, the path through the woods above Cortambert. Some deer were walking just ahead of us, their hoofprints fresh in the mud.
Claire is our expert in botany and along the way we kept stopping to examine the wildflowers and discuss their culinery and medicinal properties. I was prompted to look up further information when I got home. For example I had known sticky willy (cleavers) only as a nuisance in the garden. It makes your hands sore and sticks to your clothes. But like many wild plants you can eat it or make a tisane. It will act as a sedative. You can roast the berries as a coffee substitute. As a poultice it will help burns or stings. The Greeks used it to strain milk and it’s good to stuff mattresses as it doesn’t go too saggy. The roots will make a red dye. You can’t get more versatile than that.
Without Claire I wouldn’t have seen the Herb-Robert, a sort of wild geranium, or the early purple orchid and the honeysuckle. Or learned how to identify wild flowers according to their arrangement of leaves. Or the ones to eat in salads. Or discover the white flowers people used to dry to use in scented sachets like lavender.
The wild garlic was plentiful, like a white carpet under the trees. And we didn’t need to be told about the wild asparagus. We picked enough to make an entrée for tonight’s dinner!