La Chatte Pendue

The Rock of La Chatte Pendue
The Rock of La Chatte Pendue. Photo taken 2012

Before the era of the witchcraft trials, there was a period of rumors. They started quietly, half-formulated whispers and slander, impossible to defend. The rumors continued until even the most respected High Stone was accused.

An old woman in the village was clever, a little too clever. One day a young man tried to cheat her, but she outsmarted him. Embarrassed, he started the rumor that the old woman was a witch. The people of the town got together, carrying their torches, ready to burn the woman as soon as they found her. She tried to defend herself, but the other villagers remembered when the old woman had outfoxed them, as well. She could not outwit them again.

As evening drew near, the villagers burned the woman from the highest rock. As the moon rose, they went home in triumph, leaving the pyre smoldering. The next morning, a black cat was found hanging from the highest rock. The rumors were confirmed. She was a witch!

The High Stone was very unhappy, saying, “Now, I am complicit to murder. I cannot approve of this. If a chapter is convened to discuss the madness of men today, I will testify to this folly.”

But the whispering continued.

Next, the Stones near the Donon were accused of having received the mark of the Devil. The accusers pointed to indentations in the Stones vaguely resembling footprints.

Things continuing spiraling downward until they reached the point where the Elder Stone decided to hold a meeting. Not that she really feared the Stones would be burned, how could they? But she was compassionate and open-minded. She saw beyond the Salm to the pyres that burned, one after another. Because the stones were slow to move, she was still considering her options when the Thirty Years War came along and soon there was no one left to burn.

Catherine’s Foraging Journal

Wild Spinach or Lambsquarters

Prolific, abundant, and delicious, the top edible “weed” is Wild Spinach. It grows with little effort in almost any disturbed soil, and is one of the most nutrient dense plants ever analyzed. It is rich in potassium and magnesium, and has more vitamins A and C, riboflavin, and calcium than domesticated spinach.

“Wild Spinach (Chenopodium album)” by Willamette Biology is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

Identification: The leaves of the Wild Spinach are arranged in a starburst pattern, and vary in shape from narrow and pointed, to rounded and triangular. They may grow up to four feet tall, though they lose flavor as they age. The waxy coating on the leaves makes water bead and deters insects.

Poisonous look alike: The Hairy Nightshade. The leaves on these two plants are similar, but the nightshade is hairy, while the wild spinach is not. They are also easily discernable by their flowers. Hairy nightshade flowers are white, while wild spinach flowers are green and inconspicuous. Another way to identify Wild Spinach is to spray the leaves with water and look for droplets.

Harvesting: Thin the patch by pinching shoots close to the ground and placing the baby shoots in a bowl of water to keep them from drying out. Harvest larger plants by pinching the upper stem. If the stem pinches off easily, it is tender enough to eat. If the stem is old and woody, pluck only the leaves, though pruning the woody stem will stimulate new growth. If the leaves are too old, they may become bitter, but are still usable cooked with onion, garlic, or in a stew.

Source: Kallas, John. Edible Wild Plants, Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate. Gibbs Smith Publishing (2010) Print