Monday, April 23, 2012
This past week has been crazy busy. I had to send my new book down to the publishers electronically, which was quite the fiasco. I'm already computer challenged and when you compound that with an old computer and internet service that can be iffy at times, I was a basket case by the time I finally accomplished what needed done. Then there's all the work that needs done on the boat. I started replacing the interior skin of the boat with some 1/4 inch plywood, and since nothing is square on a boat, it's been a real fun time. I spent almost all day Friday trying to figure out a pattern. I never did get one and finally gave up and left in frustration around 5:00. It was quite unpleasant. Anyway, I've been really busy and just now felt like I could take some time to do a new blog post. It can sometimes be a challenge to find something to write about, but because it's getting to be spring here in Southeast Alaska, I thought I would write about one of the harbingers of spring, Skunk Cabbage. This is Western Skunk Cabbage, Lysichiton americanus, as opposed to Symplocarpus foetidus, Eastern Skunk Cabbage. I didn't even know there was two different kinds, but as the old saying goes, you learn something new every day. I guess it's also known as Swamp Lantern, though I've never heard it called that in all the years I've lived here. However, I often heard it referred to as Stunk Cabbage by my daughter Autumn when she was a toddler out at the farm. We would grasp her little hand and walk down the boardwalk on the way to or from the tabernacle and every time we passed a patch of it she would point and say, Stunk Cabbage. For about the first hundred times it was kind of cute- after that it was kind of annoying. By the time she turned twenty one and was still saying it, it had lost any sense of delight. (Just kidding Autumn)I should have taught her the Latin name, then it probably would have been entertaining to hear it more often. Of course half the entertainment value would have been in having me try to pronounce it. One of the local bear hunting guides has mentioned that the Brown Bears dig up the roots of this plant soon after they come out of hibernation. It's one of the first things they eat and serves as a laxative. I haven't seen any bears yet, but it's not uncommon to pass by areas in the early spring where a number of Skunk Cabbages have been dug up. I think the deer feed on the plants when they first pop up too. When the plant is full grown the leaves are enormous. You could probably use one as an umbrella. It usually grows in swampy areas; muskegs and in drainage ditches. It's always nice to see at the end of winter- a bit of a promise that spring is really here. Speaking of spring, I understand that places back east have just experienced a blizzard dumping eight to twelve inches of snow in areas like New York and Pennsylvania. Guess that will put the old Symplocarpus foetidus in a tailspin for a bit. I guess if you want to experience some spring you better come up to Alaska. As you can see our Swamp Lanterns are burning bright.