Come walking with me down to the creek and we can see
how the floods have changed our old spots. Don't worry
about the cold, or the patches of snow. It's not that
bad, and besides, a brisk walk is always good this time
of year. You can hear the creek now, let's head that
way. Seems no matter how I try to get to the creek, I
always end up at this spot. It's the noisiest spot on
the creek, and seems to be the easiest spot to find. The noise
almost seems to draw me to this place. Wow, the creek
has become wider, full of bustling freezing water. How
raging the floods must have been a few weeks ago. What
torrents must have gone through here. Look here, where
the creek makes a sharp right and s-curves up ahead.
This is where all the noise is coming from. Let's look
closer at this little penninsula that the river runs
around. It's been flooding all through here, all the
usual plants have been swept away and replaced with a
pile of sand. Sand, who knows how deep, swept with
ripples, almost as if a part of the still waters full of
ripples have been frozen, transformed into sand ripples.
We don't have to walk on them today, because we can
cross this fallen log to the creek's edge. What a nice
day. I sense deer around, perhaps we'll see them on our
Hmm, come over here! This part of the creek also has
been replaced by a sand bar. Let's touch it, it's
volcanic sand, worn down from the Mountain's lava long
ago and transported here from miles away by the strong
hand of the another wild winter. It came from the high
country, now only accessible to us by ski or snowshoes.
Perhaps someday we can go snow camping up there, but not
today. I like the warm fire back at home.
It's winter now, let's imagine what might grow in a place
like this come spring, come summer, come the following
years. Remember what it was like last year along creeks
like these, in spots like these new sand bars and wet
sandy ripples. I can almost see the large purple Mimulus
lewisii's smiling mouths; I can almost taste their sweet
Remember last year, when we were looking for Angelica.
We were walking along a creek like this, enjoying the
scents of the Artemisia douglasii, and finding a few
Angelicas here, a few Angelicas there along the creeks
edge. It was warm then, and the cool water felt so good
on our feet and legs as we walked along the rocky bottom
of the creek. Eventually we found a place where the creek
turned sharply. Walking away from the creek, what was
it? Twenty, thirty, fifty feet? Either way, through a wet
drainage of Artemisia we walked, and found ourselves in
a wet boggy area full of hundreds of Angelicas, both
genuflexa and arguta. The creek curved around this
"almost peninsula", around us. Good thing there were both
kinds of Angelica around. We were a little late to get
Angelica arguta, most of the schizocarps had split and
fallen off the umbels. Most were unidentifiable at that
time, without seeds, and there was so much Cicutadouglasii around! But the Angelica genuflexa, with its
distinctive genuflexed leaves. Hitchcock calls it
"abaxially geniculate," but I think a picture is worth a
thousand words. It's easy to understand it when you see
it like this, and I wouldn't call your sister "abaxially
geniculate." Well, you might want to remember these
words to impress friends at parties, I guess.
What a day we had! Was that laterally or dorsally
flattened? You would bring the Angelica roots to me, and
I'd double check the fruits to see that they really were
Angelica. Always good to be safe, especially with
Umbelliferaes. And the growth rings on these older roots.
Remember how we counted them, and all the old Angelicas
had twenty to twenty five rings. And we pondered on the
meaning of this, as some of us went into the water for a
quick refreshing dip. What might have happened here
twenty five years ago?
Open your eyes! You must've been dozing. It's cold here,
and I want to get moving. Look again, it's suddenly
become clear. This sand bar will grow Artemisia,
Mimulus, perhaps Angelica from the mountains. Perhaps in
twenty years we can come back again with another group
of new students. Perhaps they'll fall asleep at lunch in
Artemisia patches that will grow on that sandy area.
Perhaps they'll ask, what happened here twenty years ago
when all this Angelica was suddenly planted in the spot
by some unknown force? We will know, won't we.
And Michael Moore has said that many rivers in the
plains are so degraded, and that their upper lands have
been degraded, that the seeds no longer flow from the
mountain to replenish the river's edge down low. Let's be
thankful that Oregon's ecosystem is still a bit more
intact. And despite the CNN coverage, despite making the
front page of a major Chilean newspaper, Oregon geology
and ecology continues to evolve.
This was originally posted on the Professional Herbalist's Mailing List Wed, 22 Jan 1997 by
"It's easy to harvest wild plants, the hard part is not harvesting."