Monday, September 24, 2007

Sweet Annie and the delights of early Autumn

Today brought another delicious day to Lancaster County. That, and a challenge from Michele of the "blog gang" sent me out into the fields in search of Sweet Annie (Artemisia annua). The funniest thing about Sweet Annie, is that any time we are vending anywhere at this time of year, we take along bunches of this fragrant weed, tied up in tissue and raffia. Every time, people buy it.
It reminds me of wild edible plants, in that at the very least, people drive past it everyday - but will pay for it if it is bundled for sale. Or maybe more like when we pass the Queen Anne's Lace bouquets for sale outside the Bodega's in NYC. It just seems odd. I suppose the value is in being able to identify these plants.

Sweet Annie is one of those plants that if you EVER have it on your property, you will ALWAYS have it on your property. It can be quite an irritating plant for people with allergies, but to me, it is one of the gifts of the dwindling sun.

At one time I had a bunch hanging in the dining room. My father came for dinner, and it bothered him. I tossed the bunch out into the side yard, and was rewarded with a crop the following year.

It is the scent that we love. An Artemesia, it has the familiar pungency of wormwood, or mugwort, but there is an addition that is somehow both fruity and floral.

This year, I'd like to try to figure out how to make a basket from the larger stems. The tiny end branches become brittle when dry, but I suspect the sturdier branches would stay strong, and remain fragrant.

Walking around outside today, I stopped *beneath* the Jerusalem Artichoke blossoms as they waved in the sun. Their brilliant yellow petals contrast so sharply with the Autumn sky, I can hardly get over how beautiful they look.

Then, there was the corn patch - long since abandoned to the groundhogs. I found a stalk that had made good friends with a blooming bindweed vine, along with a fully seeded Lamb's Quarter plant.

There were many other sights along the way. This is the start of another one of my favorite seasons... one of four :-).

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