Trying New Things

October 17, 2016

“I realized something on the ride. I realized if I wait until I’m not scared to try new things, then I’ll never get to try them at all.”
― Marie Sexton, Between Sinners and Saints

“You know how creative people are, we have to try everything until we find our niche.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

“My prayer is to learn new things, imbibe fresh insights. You must not take life too seriously. You must enjoy the process of living.”

– Sonu Nigam

The Artist and I believe in exploring the possibilities of creation. Inherent in that is trying new things. We love to learn and stretch the limits of what we know, or at least think we know. That involves a lot of reading as a preliminary way to introduce ourselves to new things, but what we have come to appreciate and enjoy the most is experiential learning …. hands on, try it ourselves to see what our experiences will be like.

Our morning started at 4:30 AM. A good two hours before sun rise.

We wanted to go out and gather in our winter supply of sugar kelp. The best time to get this is at low tide. We are learning the way of the moon and the tides and now know that an individual  tide changes each day by 24 hours and 48 min, there are 2 high tides and 2 low tides each day and the two either high or low tides change by 12 hours and 24 minutes from each other and the low and high tide change from each other by 6 hours and 12 minutes. Also there are low, low tides (and high, high tides) and they can vary depending on the phase of the moon from a low tide of around 1.5 feet to a low, low tide of -1.5 feet.


That sounds like a lot to remember, but the funny thing is, we are starting to feel and know this rhythm and on any given day without looking at a tide chart, guess when the tide will be within 1/2 an hour or so of the actual time!

With this morning being an almost full moon that set at 8:21 AM, and sunrise at 6:51 AM and a low, low tide at 5:21 AM, we knew that every condition was perfect for gathering some sugar kelp. We would have a very low tide and bright moon light to light our way. Here is our view when we arrived at our spot…


We let the moon guide our footsteps and as our eyes grew accustomed to the semi-darkness, this new experience of hiking without headlamps became very enjoyable. We felt like we were part of the island itself.

On the drive back home, the still not-yet-risen sun started to paint the horizon.


We hung the kelp up to dry in the beautiful morning sunlight.


After 2nd coffee, we wanted to try another new thing today and that was to gather some birch polypore (Pitptoporus betulinus) from some dying white birch trees in our back woods. The white birch tends to be a pioneer species here and is often short lived which makes it ripe for these parasitic fungi which break down and decompose the wood. Our lower woods is kind of swampy and we have several white birch that are in various stages of decay and are filled with these polypores. We planned on picking them heavily, but we hope they come back for years to come!

While not an edible fungus, the birch polypore has a lot of medicinal uses and is strongly antiseptic, builds the immune system and may work against cancer tumors. It is used both fresh and dried in teas and soups. We have been wanting to try this for awhile now, and now is the perfect time of year to harvest them.

We picked a few dozen young and fresh specimens….


….and sliced them up to dry.


Once these are dry, they will last almost indefinitely. We plan on making a daily tea from them to boost our immune systems and also flavor our soups!


After we had these out in the sun drying along with the kelp, it was time to grab a couple hour nap!

After the nap, The Artist and I spent a couple leisurely hours together on the deck listening to classical music, enjoying a light late breakfast and shelling acorns.


Afterwards, we decided to take a small hike to check out a mushroom spot we like to check in on weekly. We were thrilled to find a new mushroom to try!!!!

In a moment of serendipity, this new edible mushroom turned out to be a polypore!

While polypores are not usually edible and only grow on decaying wood, this particular one happens to grow out of the soil and is also edible. This oddity is known as the Sheep polypore (Albatrellus ovinus).

We found a nice flush of firm young ones and picked about two dozen to try …although eating a polypore seemed a bit odd.


They had the most beautiful firm texture and a very pleasant aroma as I sliced them up.


I popped them into a hot pan with a little evoo and some diced onions….


…and cooked them until golden brown and finished them with some butter, sea salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme, basil and a dash of chardonnay!


OMG …. these were so good! … very meaty texture and a rich flavor. While The Artist and I rarely eat meat, we both commented how good these would be on top of a grilled steak. I think I’ll put them into a wild mushroom stroganoff with The Artist’s homemade noodles instead!

Then one last new thing to try to finish off the day!

The Artist and I recently picked up a pair of djembe drums. These west African drums are the coolest things, although neither of us know how to play them.


Not letting that stop us, we have started taking African drumming classes and are learning the rhythm of playing the drums and songs like “Fanga”. Our teacher is also going to teach us about playing “Sabar”, which is a style of drumming that is often done on the djembe drums, but instead of drumming with two hands, you use 1 hand and a Sabar stick.

I decided to make each of us our own Sabar sticks today. I cut two lengths of red oak from one of our trees (one dry and seasoned and one green) and whittled and carved them into the right shape and length and then sanded them down to make them perfectly smooth. Then The Artist stained them and coated them with linseed oil. We can’t wait to try them at class this week!


And on a last note about trying new things, In the next few weeks The Artist and I are signing up to take classes at Acadia Senior College!

They offer a wide range of fascinating classes and a very reasonable cost. Two that we are interested in taking are an astronomy course and a course on the geology of the island!

We love to experience and learn new things about our island home and this will be a perfect way to continue that process of being in enjoyment of our lives.





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