Sunday, June 10, 2012

Seaweed Gathering

Last weekend, a dear friend and I set out on an adventure as the day dawned. Away we drove, past cities and farmland, across bridges and through the forest. A few hours later, we arrived at our destination: a lovely state park on the sea, where we were to learn all about magnificent sea vegetables!

While the tide was low, we clambered with the class along the slippery rocks, listening to our eccentric teacher share his vast knowledge of seaweed and kelp (peppered with humorous anecdotes). We then made our way over to our driftwood "classroom" where we sampled the plants we had just seen in dry form, along with a potluck of seaweed-themed snacks. Afterward, we combed the beach to collect a little bit of seaweed to take home with us.

The beach was abundant in one of our favorite seaweeds, nori

A common and pretty tasty seaweed on Northwest beaches, bladderwrack

Also harvested: kombu and wakame 
(shown here drying in our kitchen... it smelled pleasantly oceanic for several days)

It's funny, but the simple act of learning how to identify plants has given me a whole new appreciation and respect for the plant kingdom. Looking at the first picture above, instead of just seeing rocks and sand and seaweed--I can pick out sea lettuce, gigartina, bullwhip kelp, bladderwrack. It's rather thrilling to know that I will never look at the beach in the same way again!

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