Hide and Seek

I found ginseng the other day.

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Panax quinquefolius

I spend an inordinate amount of time in the woods, and almost all of that time is spent looking for, and/or looking at, stuff. I’ve looked for and found someone’s lost keys, a specific pregnant porcupine, my cell phone, the dog’s toy, several patches of orchids, the ‘one way’ sign on the west side of the mountain, chicken of the woods, golden chanterelles, bear dens, porcupine dens, and human “dens” (hunting blinds). I’ve found 50 year old whiskey bottles, and 5 day old ‘congratulations on graduating’ balloons. I’ve found the best view on the 1200+ acre parcel, the best tasting blackberries, and the secret caves.

 

I’ve run into bears (plural – Mama plus 2 cubs once, and teenage boys several times), fishers, deer, and coyotes, and spotted bald eagles and indigo buntings. None of these are particularly rare, but they all give me a thrill.

There’s what you’re looking for and then there’s what you find. I’m always looking, but rarely seeking. Some days I go out to find something specific, and my track record is only fair. The pregnant porky was amazing, but there were a few trips looking for Steve’s keys before I actually came up with them. Sometimes (e.g., the cell phone) failure is not an option. But every day I look at everything, expecting nothing/anything.

Finding ginseng was eagerly anticipated. I knew the chances of finding it were so-so. But I also knew that I saw some last year and got shot down – one expert “wasn’t sure” and another said “nope, lookalike plant.” I thought I was right and they were wrong and I was bound and determined to show them. So it’s been a solid year of seeking, not every day, but often enough. Tenacity rewarded.

This time I waypointed the find on my GPS and my plan is to keep looking for more. But in the meantime, there’s plenty to look for and even more to marvel at. Maybe one day I’ll join the ranks of those who believe they’ve seen a cougar. In the meantime, I’ll be happy to keep finding plump sweet blackberries and other forest edibles.

 

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