Every year at this time, I point out that the ripening berries in the Ozarks should be put to good use, and the same thing with wild poke, from which poke greens, utilizing young leaves, are cooked.
If you are someone who enjoys hunting mushrooms, I can tell you about something much easier to find and yet just as good to eat. The abundant, orange day lilies are everywhere and blooming now. Amongst those blooms are the buds, about 3 or 4 inches long, which will open soon. Collect those buds. Roll them in eggs, then in flour. Add pepper or light seasoning like garlic or whatever you like, and fry them in bacon grease or olive oil. My gosh, they are good.
Some people sautee them, ‘sautee’ being a French word for “frying slowly in butter”. It is pronounced ‘sawtay’, showing us that French people can’t spell worth a darn. Anyway, try them, as they are found everywhere, and you can gather a hundred buds in a hurry, and invite your whole family over for dinner. A roasted young groundhog would go awful good with fried buds, fresh garden tomatoes and a blackberry cobbler. If you come up with a better way to cook them, let me know. Some folks cook them like you would cook asparagus (another French word) and they say they are similar to asparagus but better.
Black raspberries are ripening up here on Lightnin’ Ridge and I haven’t had a good cobbler (cobbler is a French word, I think, for square pie) in years. Some lady might take that as a hint, and come out here and gather a bunch of them and make me a cobbler, but I will not be responsible for any problems incurred by thorns, ticks or copperheads. The best thing you can do if you are a berry picker is find an old leaky pair of chest waders discarded by a fisherman or duck hunter and wear them into the thickets, sprayed with tick repellent, reassured by the idea that copperheads can’t bite through the boots…I don’t think.
Because summer is upon us, it is time to start thinking about fishing at night with jig and eel combinations or big spinner baits for bass. Most of the bass spawning is finished in the Ozarks, and when you have high water in June, you can catch some very large bass from our lakes, around flooded greenery with topwater lures early in the morning and late in the evening. But what I look forward to the most is floating the rivers and fishing. I still know stretches of stream in the Ozarks where you can float without seeing anyone, at least during the week. But I stay away from those stretches where weekend caravans of canoes bang down the river, with alcohol and drugs as prevalent as they are. Those people who made a business of putting hundreds of canoes into our river on any given Saturday have been a curse on our streams, with some of the most beautiful lengths of Ozark rivers damaged beyond repair by their presence. If you don’t believe me, paddle down one of those waterways some weekend. Take note of the toilet paper on the gravel bars and see if you can make the trip without running into intoxicated, yelling and insulting people.
I think my Labrador, Bolt, might be the third or fourth greatest Labrador in the world. I have reached the age where I hate to argue, and if you say you have the best Lab in the world, you get a lot of argument from those who think their Labrador is the best in the world. If you say your dog is the third or fourth best, no one argues.
Bolt turned two years old this spring, and he sleeps on his back beside my bed with his feet up in the air, with his own pillow.
Just the other day I came in from working outside and took my shirt off, sitting down in my old recliner to watch an old episode of Gunsmoke. I had cleaned out my closet and had a pile of old but clean T-shirts lying on the bed. Bolt saw me sitting there without a shirt and left his usual spot beside my chair. He came right back with one of my shirts in his mouth, putting it in my lap. Then he sat there before me, urging me put it on. That is smartness, my friend.
Then one morning I was sitting on my screened porch watching the birds in the greenery I often refer to as a lawn, when I said to Bolt, “I wonder if that little red bird down there in the fence-row might be a scarlet tanager.” Quick as a wink, he headed back into my office and came back with my bird book in his mouth. I was really impressed until he opened it up there on the floor and pointed to a cardinal with his big paw. It clearly wasn’t a cardinal. But while he doesn’t do well on songbirds, he knows his ducks really good.
Anyways, about four years ago an old duck hunter bought a yellow Labrador puppy from me, and recently the old man passed away. The dog is now a fine looking, golden-colored retriever. His wife asked if I would find a good duck hunter who would give the young dog a home. So if you are interested, and you are a good duck hunter, who can at least drop one duck with every two shots and can tell a drake mallard from a hen at 50 yards, and you don’t have a Labrador already, you might get in touch with me. I may have a good hunting partner for you.
Remember the Ozarks Mountaineer magazine, which folded up last December after being published for more than 50 years. Some of us who are writers and history buffs would like to see it revived, and I believe we might be able to do it this fall. I need to know how many readers out there would commit to buying that first issue, which we will call “The Journal of Ozark Mountaineers”. To simply pay for the printing, we need to sell 500 magazines at five dollars each. If you would like to receive one, send a postcard to me and let me know. We don’t want anyone sending money yet, just send a postcard to Lightnin’ Ridge Publishing, Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613, and tell us to reserve a copy for you. Writers and editors who once worked for the old Ozarks Mountaineer magazine will compile the new one; similar in content, and it will be the same length, 64 pages. If you don’t want to send a postcard, just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The summer issue of the Lightnin’ Ridge Outdoor Journal is out, found on many magazine stands throughout the Midwest, and it has 80 pages of great reading. I think many of you might enjoy reading the humorous article I wrote about catching a big but illegal bass back when I was 17 years old, and the problems it created. It is entitled, “The Night We Caught The Big One.” We printed the sixth installment of a continuing serial story entitled, “Little Home on the Piney”, which folks seem to enjoy. It is a true account of life along an Ozark river in the 1930’s. If you have any trouble finding the magazine, just call our offices at 417/777-5227.
This coming Sunday we ill be talking about summer fishing on my hour-long radio program on KWTO 560 AM at 8:06 a.m. It can be received on a computer at radiospringfield.com. My website is www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com.
BOLT TODAY – At two years of age, Bolt has become the 3rd or 4th best Labrador in the whole country.
PRETTY ENOUGH TO EAT – The orange blossom is said to be good eating too, but I just eat the bud, shown sticking up behind the flower in the center of the photo.