Monday, April 21, 2008

Field of dreams... for ramp hunters

A carpet of ramps greens the rounded hills of this eroded glacial terrace in Ross County, Ohio. Appalachian dreams conjure scenes like this...
Ramps (Allium tricoccum)

April is ramp season in Appalachia where communities celebrate ramps in songs, feasts, and festivals.

Pungent ramps are prized by accustomed connoisseurs, but they may be an acquired taste for the rest of us. Their sticky odor resembles onion, laden with garlic. After an Appalachian feast of fresh bulbs and leaves, their smell permeates the air in a moving cloud, following the man with a ramp-eat'n grin on his face. My friend Jimmy from Poca, West Virginia swears his wife keeps him in quarantine for days after a good feast of ramps. Some say it takes three days for the aroma to work its way through your pores.

Ramps with dogtooth violet (Erythronium americanum)

I'll bet readers can suggest recipes for newbies wanting to try a new gastronomical experience. Your blogger is not a connoisseur.

dogtooth violet (Erythronium americanum)

My recent short hike near home to confirm a Great Horned Owl (found tawny fledged young) for the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas II, and to stretch an injured heel close to home, was rewarded by dappled colors of spring flowers under faintly blooming trees along the riparian corridor of North Fork Creek.

Common serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Cutleaf toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)