We three took off, packed, if it could’ve been called that, each, bike-boom early ‘70’s, Peugeot UO 8, 10-speed, racing-style touring bikes in homemade bags, so to classify them as baggage per Greyhound’s helpful requirement, bused to Bangor, ME, cycled down to Bar Harbor, and ferried across the Gulf of Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for three weeks touring through the Annapolis Valley to then turn right on down to Halifax.
Our food sources were unknown except what we bought or scrounged along the way. I knew of the return-to-nature guru Euell Gibbons and I packed Stalking the Wild Asparagus as guide if I needed to shift into desperation mode.
I seized my test opportunity after I read about Queen Anne’s Lace; I read it to be wild carrot and it was everywhere. I liked the blossom, I was confident and hopeful, and skeptical, naturally being so, but I was also accustomed to eating in Manhattan where all food is abundant and prepared, and if not already so, then prepared on demand, 24/7. It was a fantastic multi cultural food capital and crossroads. Queen Anne’s Lace had never been on my menu.
We boil it and boil it and boil it, and then some more. It was tough, maybe never boiled enough, bitter, and completely, utterly, inedible. No, it was disgusting.
“Well, so much for Queen Anne’s Lace and Euell Gibbons, I said.
“Bill, this is our first try. We’ve never done this before. I want to try again,” said Penelope.
I looked at John, her beloved, this really big tall dusky blonde longhaired hippie sort of guy. He was alpha and he was so big, and nice to me, older, and looked like he had more knowledge and experience, and in fact really did have more, being an architect for the City of New York.
“Well, Penelope, tomorrow I buy from a road side stand. You pick another plant and try. I gotta have backup. I’m sorry. I gotta eat, I’m hungry.”
John stayed out of it. Penelope was short, long black haired and wore thick coke-bottle lens eyeglasses. She was 10-speeding through Nova Scotia, in all weathers, at times rain pelting her eyeglasses, beading up and running off, and kept on pedaling. Penelope was determined. John stayed out of it. We bought fresh produce and fruit from roadside stands and my nose unfailingly sought local bakeries’ fresh doughnuts and pastries and restaurants’ fresh seafood and chowders. I gave my Stalking the Wild Asparagus to Penelope and John.