Armed with a reference book, journal and camera, I row to shore.
I am determined to explore the rocky beach in front of me from an entirely new angle. I have been combing beaches since I was old enough to toddle along the California coast of my childhood. When I moved to Alaska 13 years ago, my love for the shore continued as I explored the beaches of Homer, Seward and Whittier, seeking out the usual; shells, clams, sea glass, rocks.
Today I am determined to find something new – something edible.
Sea greens or bull kelp; bladderwrack or dulse. Nori would be a fun find too because at least I know I have enjoyed nori in sushi rolls at many restaurants. While most us – myself included – are trained to find our food at the grocery store, I am convinced there is a whole world of undiscovered flavors, textures and nuances that we, due to modern day culture, miss out on.
Today is the day I take my first small step into this undiscovered world by sampling a new species or two that grow where the sea meets the shoreline.
Even with my trusty reference book in hand, I find myself hesitant while on the shore of Driftwood Bay. I know that many species of plants can look like a friendly variety, but upon closer inspection are actually quite deadly. For this reason, even though the author of my trusty book included photos, sketches and thorough descriptions, I was careful only to pick what I could positively identify. I sampled duse and beach greens in small amounts only. I found both plants had a surprisingly mild and pleasant flavor.
I resist the urge to pick more as I return to our sailboat, my head full of ideas for the future. I intend to return in the spring, which according to my book is the ideal time to harvest, and further cultivate a taste for what the shoreline has to offer.
References: Schofield Eaton, Janice (2003). Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, The Northwest. Alaska Northwest Books.
Nicole Mercer has lived Alaska for 12 years. She explores nature enthusiastically and seeks out delicious new adventures around every corner. To reach Nicole, email: [email protected]