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Courtown woods for Garlic. Nettles and Pesto

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

Today I resumed my regular walking route in Courtown woods after my Covid19. restrictions.

I parked up in the usual carpark and walked back the road to be greeted by my historian friend. She is currently studying the Roosevelts . This was a refreshing and encouraging start to the day to meet a lady of four score years and plus out walking briskly and studying American History. I was inspired by her enthusiasm. I told her that I had finished reading Barrack Obamas book and recommended it to her. She promised that she would get it on her next visit to the library.

And so, I headed off into the woods. There was a lovely calm peaceful atmosphere here.One man was exercising his dog. This was so twenty first century. He was plump in nature ,sitting on a big boulder, smoking a cigarette and with the compulsory white ear plugs. He was probably listening to some lofty philosophy lecture. While the cigarrete was firmly secured in the left hand, his right hand held an implement for throwing a tennis ball. The man sat, the man puffed , the man threw the ball, and the dog ran. The dog returned the ball to the master’s feet and the process was repeated. This was great exercise for the dog.

I noted the bloke’s absolute dedication to his strenuous arm swinging routines. I pitied the poor dog.

Anyway, there was walking to be done and so I continued on my merry trail. Up ahead I noted a body shape bent over and wearing a reflective jacket. I presumed it was one of the forestry rangers or inland fisheries staff doing some routine testing. As I got closer, I saw that it was a man picking wild garlic. I stopped for a chat. He told me that he was Eastern European and that in his country they used wild garlic for making pesto . He was going to make some. He told me that it did not smell quite right. He was picking it at the end of a roadway where many people and their dogs first entered the woods. I explained to him that it was the first relief point for dogs and that could be the smell. The bag of garlic he had picked was peremptorily dumped and I pointed him in the direction of safer wee free garlic. He thanked me and so I trotted off .I am sure his family will be happier not to eat dog scented pesto.

As I was progressing two locals were passing by and asked me what the man in the yellow vest was doing. I duly informed them ,and they expounded on the virtues of wild garlic. One of them actually ate some of it each morning from mid-April to late May but they had never heard of pesto. I told them it was a sort of ketchup and they were happy enough with that once the yellow vested one was not looking for wild mushrooms as well.

The senior partner of our trio now launches into a dissertation about the benefits of nettles in the month of May. They are a great source of iron and whenever he is boiling cabbage he always throws in a few nettles. He further told us that when his family left home, they would not eat cabbage. It never tasted the same as mammy’s cabbage at home. They were then informed of the secret ingredient used by dad in their younger days. Isn’t there a sting at the end of every story?

As the nettle man ambled along, stick swinging by his side, I noticed that he stopped occasionally to do a few squats. When I commented on this, he informed me that he practised some yoga at home on a daily basis. I complemented him on all his activity in keeping himself so fit and healthy. They then started to traverse a different path to myself so we bade each other farewell.

Life and walking must go on and I stroll along with garlic and nettles and cabbage in my head space menu. I meet with one of my friends who had lost her husband recently. We greeted each other and she told me that she was quite worried. She had been walking here a day previously and she found a new brown wellington boot. She looked around and could not see a matching wellington or a human to whom said wellington might belong. Her mind went into overdrive and she wondered if there could be a body in the undergrowth. I saw nothing but she asked me, the latter-day Inspector Clouseau, if I might walk in there to inspect the area. Reluctantly I took a brave few steps in and saw no matching wellington or human remains and no undergrowth disturbed. I assured her that all was safe and well . We bade farewell, to each other and the mystery of the Wellington remains unsolved.

As I moved along and heading for the forest exit, I met a young lady looking for primrose flowers . She was filling a bag full of fading flowers and she was going to dry the seeds later on to make her own primrose oil. I couldn’t imagine how many flowers you would need to make a jar of primrose oil. I was going to tell her about health food shops but sure as they say, each to their own, and she seemed contented in her picking. I kept my lips sealed and headed for the home straight ahead of the impending rain .As they say in the vernacular “Is binn béal ina thost”.

It was a very thought-provoking health awareness walking session today. I got plenty food for thought and wasn’t too nettled by my encounters.

In the afternoon I explored home recipes for organic nettle soup and primrose oil. I think I will stick to the day job of permanent retiree and to keep shopping in our local supermarket for any pesto or health food supplements I might need from time to time.

Mick O Callaghan.

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