Hank Shelley

Column: Make use of nature’s cupboard

By Hank Shelley, Observer contributor

The billy can bubbled over the fire, as I dropped in Labrador tea.

Later, the fishermen all felt mellow and happy. The tea contains a mild narcotic!

Oregon’s Milton Freewater is a vegetable growing region, helping to feed the nation. The Campbell soup company has a plant there, for the abundance of vegetables for their great variety of soups.

It so happens that there are also a good many outdoors men and women who hunt and fish. Some finding their way to our fishing lodge at Postill lake in years past. One cold winter’s morn while checking our trap line towards Karen’s meadow toward Beaver Lake (Winfield), I veered the snowmobile into a large copse of giant spruce trees, to find a small ice covered deep lake.

Next day I took bug samples and depth recordings. We already had boats on five of our lakes but, this would be special.

It should hold a good population of brook trout. Next day I called the Summerland trout hatchery in Summerland, and explained the situation.

Two weeks later, they called back saying they had 2,000 parr (3-4 inch) ready for spring. I then called an old-time timber cruiser for SM Simpson mill named Fred Kistch. He arrived and with compass we blazed a trail right to the lake.

Come spring, we back packed the fish in tanks to the lake. Two years later, we were now taking in our first Oregon anglers. Along with packed lunches, the fire/billycan/brewed tea became a tradition at our lodge’s brookie lake.

A few seasons later, drifting down the Eagle River, counting spawning coho, my boss, Byril, always carried a plastic pail to fill with wild high bush cranberries, hanging in clusters out over the banks.

Part of nature’s larder for those who want to hike winter trails or experiment with vitamin C enriched hot drinks.

Most evergreens are jam-packed with nutrient rich ingredients.To make evergreen tea, place three to four small branches of spruce or fir with needles attached. Place in boiling water in pot or billy can.

Steep until desired strength is reached. Too, rose hips can still be found in winter. Gather. At home, split open and remove seeds. Boil as with tea, strain and enjoy.

With bush teas, one may want to sweeten with honey, or a shot of brandy. Note: Labrador tea bush will be found in spruce tree locations similar to buck brush.

Go online for more information regarding what nature can provide us medicinal and healing properties.

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