Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Muddy salad

We went to the pool again today, which probably comes as no surprise, and afterword we stopped by the playground for a while because Alexander "actually wore shoes today" (which was a really good point to make because he so often runs out to the car with the kids and they help him get all strapped in without checking his feet and then because he's all buckled up I forget to check his feet, too (I've told him that he's in charge of making sure he has shoes...but also he's 

It was a big day for Zoë. She finally figured out how to pump on the swing!

We've been working on it for literally years but, uh, that's okay! She finally got it today. Really got it. 

Like, she's managed to do it a little in the past, but today it clicked and she is a confident swinger. 

Alexander is a confident swinger as well. He's 100% convinced that Zoë taught him how to pump his legs today and was singing, "In and out! In and out!" as he pumped his legs willy-nilly. He'll probably get it in the next couple of years. Today we're just happy that Zoë's got it figured out!

Sometimes my kids seem to be slow in the coordination department, but they're my children so...uh...this checks out. Sorry kids! Stick to individual sports—like running, swimming, and dancing—and no one will know that you can't hit a ball with a stick or put a ball in a basket to save your life (just a little tip from an uncoordinated pro).

Benjamin mainly concerned himself with foraging for wood sorrel. He wants nothing more than to harvest a big bowl of wood sorrel to make a salad to go with dinner. It would be his supreme contribution to the family, make him a real man, something of that sort. He's been entirely fixated on it for months and I've been holding him off, explaining that we can't just forage in our neighbour's yards like that! I know it's a weed and I said you could pick weeds from people's yards but I meant that you could pick, like, a dandelion puff, not take a salad bowl down to their house and just fill it up with whatever!

Sometimes I wonder what the neighbours think about us, but we're fairly used to being "the family with all the kids" by this point. Known for taking walks around the block wearing plague masks or with a child or two covered from head to toe in mud. It's good to be famous. 

Anyway, there was a lot of wood sorrel growing in the mulch of the playground and this was a community playground, not someone's yard! It was fair game! He could harvest as much as he wanted. 

He began running around and uprooting whole handfuls of wood sorrel. 

I tried explaining to him that wood sorrel is more of a garnish than the main sustenance of a salad, that we only want the new leaves, not the woody stems, that he should forage sustainably instead of pulling the plants out by the root. But when Benjamin gets an idea into his mind he gets behind that idea 100% and he charges around gettin' stuff done! Soon he had an armful of wood sorrel, from their muddy roots to their fresh shoots. And he insisted on taking these foraged veggies home so he could prove to us that he'll be able to one day live out his dream of becoming a mountain man, foraging for everything he eats.

While I set about getting the littles and myself into dry clothes (air conditioning is great and all but it does not mix with wet hair and swimming suits), Benjamin set about prepping his salad. 

He listened to the part about using regular lettuce and adding the wood sorrel as a "garnish," and he listened to the part about washing the vegetables prior to use, but he didn't remember anything about "fresh leaves" or "avoid woody stems." He was just so excited to get his salad together to surprise everyone for lunch!

By the time I came downstairs he had really put together a beautiful tossed salad.

He had washed and cut up some romaine lettuce, threw in a handful of cherry tomatoes, peeled and cut a cucumber, tossed that all together and then had placed the lightly rinsed-off wood sorrel attractively on top of the salad. 

Or, it would have been attractive if he had actually washed the wood sorrel...

He'd left the roots intact and the roots were still dripping muddy water...all over the rest of the salad. 

It was appetizing, I guess, if you like mud pies. Or if you want to be a mountain man when you grow up (okay, so "mountain man" was his dream in grade one; now he's a big boy in grade three and we've convinced him that, perhaps, "forest ranger" might be a more attainable occupation).

I took the wood sorrel out and cut some of the fresher shoots off and sprinkled them over the salad for Benjamin, leaving the hopelessly muddy lower half of the wood sorrel to languish on the cutting board.

The poor boy was a little offended that no one else wanted his muddy salad. He seemed to enjoy it. 

I told him that next time he needs to slow down a bit and do things a little more methodically rather than running headlong into a situation without a full vision or plan. He needs to harvest carefully and prepare the salad carefully—haste, as they say, makes waste (unless you, like Benjamin, are determined to eat the muddy salad (I told him we could rinse it all off but he said he'd already added dressing so...shrug...stuffed a forkful in his mouth)). Then he asked if tomorrow when we go swimming can he please bring a pair of scissors.

"Scissors?!" I asked. 

"So I can forage sustainably and only take what I need while leaving the rest of the plant to grow. I've been reading up on how to do it in my foraging book!"

That sounds much more methodical to me.


  1. This made me laugh pretty hard. "so..shrug...stuffed a forkful in his mouth" -- I could see him doing that!

  2. How funny! I wanted to see a picture of this muddy salad. :)

    And I am so happy that our playgrounds are finally opening up here on Friday at 5 PM! They've been closed since mid-March, and I miss going to parks and swinging! In Phase 2.5, the governor has given permission to open playgrounds.

    1. Our playgrounds honestly opened a little early, probably, considering our recent abysmal numbers. We've only gone when we are the only people there (and this park is part of the neighbourhood "club," so I'm not sure it's under the same rules as the city parks...though even those opened up in June). Weird time we're living in. :) I'm glad you get your playgrounds back and hope your numbers keep low enough that keeping them open is feasible!