From Loon Lake Road – Spring rejuvenation and rhubarb delicacies

Barbara Hendricks' monthly column of community news and events in Cache Creek.

Pollen season

Clouds of yellow dust have been blowing around in the forests here for the last weeks. The trees are producing great amounts of pollen which the wind is dispersing to ensure a good crop of cones and seeds for future trees and lots of squirrel and bird food for the winter. Everyday a film of yellow/orange dust covers everything on my deck and even the bird water dish is discoloured to a rusty orange. Such is life in a northern forest.

It is very heartening to see the young pines that escaped the pine beetle put on good growth and new young seedlings spring up. Now if all those limbs and other debris from the dead and fallen pines along the road above 8 Mile, where the trunks have been taken for firewood, were cleaned up, the damage from the pine beetle would no longer be so obvious.

On the move

The May long weekend was a good indication of just how much the resort and lakeside residential portion of Loon Lake Road has developed as an attractive weekend and holiday place. Traffic began to increase noticeably by noon Friday and became a steady stream of pickups pulling all sorts of trailers, motor homes, campers and other recreation vehicles.

And on Monday the stream turned and went in the other direction but many must have stayed as there were fewer large camping trailers and recreation vehicles going out on Monday.

Loon Lake has been a favourite destination holiday place for nearly 100 years now  (since the late 1920s) and the last few years has seen a marked increase in the use of mobile holiday homes pulled in and parked for the summer, sometimes two or three squeezed in on a lot.

Patience when planting

The earlier farmers along the road always worked by the rule that the garden should be planted after the Victoria Day holiday. Before then there was an increased risk that cold weather and flocks of sparrows could eliminate a season’s income and food supply in a few hours.

I can remember many a Victoria Day weekend with snow on the ground and on all the newly sprung out leaves. With the warmer winters and the availability of protective coverings, as well as freshly sprouted seedlings ready for transplanting and other techniques it is very tempting now to plant earlier.

The white crowned sparrows were here but in smaller numbers and moved on quickly. This past week’s wet and cold weather and snow advisory was a reminder that the experience of the previous generations was good sense. There was frost in some gardens here on the morning of May 24, much to the frustration of gardeners.

The rain over the week was very welcome as the ground was extremely dry. What was amazing about it was that it held off until the holiday weekend was over. The mist hanging onto the hillside combined with the dullness of the light and the cool air means both people and the cats once again huddle around the fires.

Loon Lake Road is in the Cariboo Fire District and there are open burning restrictions in place while a campfire is permitted if it meets the set requirements for size and cleared area.

Busy bees

With all the apple trees in bloom along with early irises, anemones and lilacs, on sunny days the garden is filled with the hum and buzz of bees as they fill up on pollen; some of them have so much on their back legs I am surprised they can still fly. We are fortunate here that we still have a plentiful population of wild bees who work so hard.

While it is early in the garden produce season, food is coming into the kitchen from the garden. Asparagus is the highlight along with reliable old rhubarb.

I was surprised to see baked rhubarb being touted as a new chef “invention” in a Vancouver based gourmet magazine recently. It is an old favourite especially when baked with a vanilla bean in it and recipes can be found in farm cookbooks from the 19th century. Use six to eight stalks of chopped rhubarb, add sugar to taste and half a split vanilla bean mixed up in a glass ovenproof dish and bake at about 375 F, stirring a couple of time and when the rhubarb is cooked and bit of brown at the edge take it out. Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and mix around. That first dish of new rhubarb – that’s how spring tastes.

I have friends in Italy who are very envious of the fact that I have rhubarb in my garden, the same feeling I have about their lemon and fig trees growing by their kitchen door, I guess. Rhubarb needs winter days to break dormancy.  So treasure your rhubarb everyone; it is something most Italians can’t grow.

Barbara Hendricks

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