Sunday, August 24, 2008

Way down yonder in the paw paw patch...

After sleeping in until 9:45am, and seeing rain pouring out my window, I wondered if we'd have our hike. I sent Naomi a text message and crawled back into bed. (It's rare day that we get to sleep past 8:00am.) Naomi called a few minutes later. She was obviously at the park and she said, "Rain or shine, baby!"

I dragged myself out of bed, looked for weather appropriate clothing, and ran out the door. (The husband and kids were still bleary-eyed.)

I arrived at Old Forest Lane and found Naomi and chatting with one brave hiker. "We have two more who went to get rain jackets," Naomi said.

The two soon arrived, not wearing jackets, but umbrella hats!

Alex, pictured above, was new to the Old Forest, but seemed to be having a great time right from the start. He was especially excited to see this garden spider that Naomi spotted near the golf course.

We continued to see lots and lots of spiders--the raindrops made their webs more noticeable--but the highlight of the hike turned out to be finding paw paws at every turn. They were everywhere! The whole forest smelled like them and it was wonderful. Again, I think the rain and clouds somehow made them easier to spot and after awhile I felt like I was on an Easter Egg hunt. Alex ate 600, maybe more, and I ate at least 300 myself.


(Thanks to our hand model, Allan Watson!)

Along the way, Naomi pointed out lots of new species she learned from the botanist who recently started a survey of the forest. Wild ginger, bear claw, and about a million more that I've already forgotten.

Allan brought along a garbage bag and in addition to hunting paw paws, we hunted quited a few empty bottles and cans. (I definitely pushed the limits of my poison ivy immunity!)

Near the end of our hike, Alex and I, who were apparently still hungry, were very excited to see a multitude of edible muscadine grapes flanking the trail. Had Naomi not been there, I might have never thought to try one, but she assured us that they were safe.


I was very glad that I got out of bed for the hike. I only wish I could have dragged the rest of my family along! (We all went for another hike in the evening, but by then it was sunny, and everything looked different. The paw-paws were hard to see and I couldn't find any new plants to impress my husband with. Oh well, we did see the biggest Velvet Ant EVER, so that was cool.)

If you haven't been on a CPOP hike yet, I highly recommend it!


jccvi said...

How does a paw paw taste?

Stacey Greenberg said...

like a cross between a banana and a mango.