Saturday, July 16, 2011

[Sorry for the posting delay.]

I love catching snakes and turtles, but I don't eat snakes and turtles (I'm a vegetarian, but I can't imagine eating my favorite critters even if I weren't). I can't drink them either, but when I'm out herping I take note of things I can eat and, at some point, drink. I like to come back to the choke cherry trees or (if I'm really lucky) persimmons when they're in season. I also keep an eye out for black walnut trees, not to eat the nuts, but to turn them into a really yummy digestivo called nocino.

So at the beginning of the July 4th weekend I took a trip out to our favorite marsh where I had noted a bunch of accessible walnut trees. That 'accessible' part is important, since I see a lot of walnut trees with nuts I'd never be able to reach without a cherry picker. These I could reach on my tippy toes.

Of course on the way to the trees, I had to look under some nice sheet metal to find this chunky garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) who did her best viper imitation, flattening her head and puffing up to show off that really pretty blue-greenish space between her scales.

Here are some of the nuts:

I decided to pick some hickory nuts too for a variation on the usual recipe. The tree was protected by a wall of multiflora rose, but I got enough working around very, very carefully.