Nothing pleases me more than to see the world a blaze in color and autumn in Quebec, was something to behold. Not only were the skies ablaze but the streets were also covered like a woodland pathway. The cool morning dew and the rising sun just added to a land, only God could create.
My Dad used to wake me up very early because there was a time limit before the morning mushrooms would decompose or be eaten by worms. It was a true case of the early bird catching the worm and we were to be the early birds.
We’d cross the bridge off the island of Montreal and head towards farms which left large parcels of land unkempt and natural. The farmers didn’t mind people entering their woods at that time. The woods were thick and wild. The soil was rich and black and you could feel and smell the life in it.
Amongst the rotting tree trunks and beneath birch trees, we would begin to collect our beloved mushrooms. As I find out today, they are called Pidpenky but in English, the closest I came to calling them were Honey Mushrooms. http://myweb.wvnet.edu/~roman/souvenir_sheets/hribi.html
I could be wrong. Does any one know?
My Dad always warned about collecting mushrooms you don’t know because eating them would be devastating. We only took what we knew and always made sure never to take the roots.
These particular mushrooms were excellent fried. You could never have enough and after collecting two 50 lb potato sacks full, my Mom, Dad and I would sort them right away, clean them, wash them and put them into salt water, just in case they had any worms. Worms were a good thing cause if they ate them, then people could.
My Mom would prepare the jars and the spices and she would then parboil the mushrooms and prepare them for pickling. All this had to be done rather quickly. The result was the best pickled mushrooms all year round. We always had enough for us and to share.
At the same time, on week ends ,we’d go to the apple farms. They would allow us to pick our own apples. McIntosh Apples are still the best in my book to this day. They are red, hard, crunchy, sweet and juicy. There is no apple like it in the world.
Being a veracious book reader, I would always have a bushel beside my lounge chair and instead of eating food, these apples always made a great snack.
My Mom would make lots of jars of apple sauce and I would help her churn the cooked apples so as to sort out the skins. We’d eat it in the winter with ice cream or pork or turkey. She’d also make the best rhubarb preserves I ever tasted and since she stopped, I never had any.
One of these trips to the apple orchards landed us a Wild Falcon. He was beautiful, lean ,smooth, with brown feathers ,clear sharp eyes and a beak that could do real damage. Since it was hunting season, some one shot it and its’ claw on one foot was closed so he could not use it. It affected his hunting skills. He was weak and didn’t put up much of a fight so we brought him home to nurse.
My Mom was a nurse by profession and she loved cleanliness. She kept her house so spotless, you could eat off of the floors. ( I am not like my Mom. Loll) It was surprising she allowed us to place newspaper all around her beautiful wood floors so this Falcon could have a room to himself, in the house, to recuperate, instead of outside on the closed balcony.
Come to think of it, she let this Falcon get away with more than she ever allowed us loll. Since it was around Thanks Giving, we had this huge turkey we bought to bake. It was already defrosted so we decided to give the Falcon a few pieces to see if he would eat.
Falcons are no fools. He saw good raw meat and he didn’t care who gave it to him. He took piece after piece for supper. He took piece after piece for breakfast. He took piece after piece for lunch. He took piece after piece for supper. By the end of the next day our 20 lb Thanks giving Turkey was gone but our Falcon was in tip top shape.lol
He became so friendly and strutted around the floor still unable to open his claw. We tried to do it for him but were not lucky either. It was closed, frozen and that was that. He would no longer be able to use it.
We took advantage of being so close to nature and held him and patted him and checked his wings to make sure nothing else was broken or damaged and he was cooperative just as if he understood we were his friends.
No matter how much we covered the wood floors, this guy with his sharp eye, would find one inch some where, where the floor showed and he would shoot his excrement right there, bulls eye, missing all the newspaper lined out for him to do his business on. The whole floor was covered and he'd see a little opening and that was what he targeted. Some how we all found it funny cause he’d never miss. lol
He’d lift his tail and shoot backwards with a dead aim that would bring the best hunter to shame. For this entertainment we decided he was strong enough to fly and try to live his life again. He still had lots of woods around full of nice rodents to feed on, so if he was smart, he would be able to survive or come back home to where he got free food.
We wished him well and in as much as he was a perfect guest, we saw in his eyes how grateful he was to see the world he grew up in, waiting for him. As we watched him fly away, we knew we’d never see him again.
He had an agenda. He had a purpose. He had a place he wanted to be and with this in mind, he flew away.
He left us with a good memory, a few laughs, no Thanks giving dinner, and an understanding that you can tame the wild but you can’t control their heart. They will always be free spirits. In this way, this Falcon was like a human.