July days simmer along; each day seeming hotter than the last. Our hills swelter under a blazing sun, and even the hound dogs look for shade. The gardens are flourishing in spite of the heat, and along the highways and byways, Queen Anne's lace lift their gauzy faces to the sun. This flower is also called wild carrot, which is edible but rather tough.
My sister Susie's grandson Levi Braley who is a cadet at the Air Force Academy has been home on a visit. He was relating a recent experience in which his troop had to "live off the land" in Colorado for five days. They had to rely on their own resources and told of eating grubs and ants, along with other things.
He said the black ants tasted like strong licorice, and the little brown ones were sort of sour. It got me to wondering how well we would survive if we were on our own for five days. If you had a cooker and could build a fire, it wouldn't be too hard in our West Virginia woods. This time of year there are lots of greens that are edible, wild raspberries and blackberries and lots of edible mushrooms.
It is a little early for wild nuts, such as walnuts, hickory nuts, butternuts or beech nuts, but a person might stumble onto a scrubby apple tree. We would miss the spices and seasonings that are used every day, but we wouldn't starve.
Of course, a person would need to know what plants and mushrooms are edible before they ventured afield, or they could end up a statistic. I love reading the wild food cookbooks, but those recipes are saturated with olive oil, butter, rich cream, spices and garlic (of course, you could use wild onions or garlic) and salt. If you were strictly living off the land, you wouldn't have these things.
Bunny Crockett wrote that I passed up some mighty fine eating when I refused the rattlesnake meat. If I were stranded in the woods and hungry, I probably wouldn't turn it down (if it were already killed, cooked and seasoned!) It really is something to consider, though -- how to survive on your own.
I got some feedback from some of my readers concerning the snake tales. From Houston, Texas, Bernie Fulks writes, "Many years ago I went on a rattlesnake hunt down in So. Texas, around Freerer. No place to stay down there, so I took our van. (My wife refused to go.) The hunt was advertised as sanctioned by Texas A&M. They milk the snakes to get the venom that is used to make serum for people bitten by snakes. There are many rattlesnakes in that hot-desolate area of So. Texas.