Seaweeding

Today we went seaweeding, Aaron, Ted, Cathy, baby Michael and I and Eliza’s cooking class. Ionia usually goes every year around this time; it’s the lowest tide in the spring and so the best time to harvest. I went last year after having just been in Ionia a little while, and so it seems fitting that I went this year shortly before leaving, and with a whole bunch of people I could introduce it too, kind of like passing on a torch- or something. My liking for seaweed has changed dramatically in the last year, too. I used to really dislike it and now I like it- sometimes. The first time I ever liked it was cooked fresh, right after seaweeding.

We got up at five in the morning, before it was light and left just at six, arriving in Homer around eight. Because the best places to go seaweeding are on the other side of the bay from Homer, we had to take a little boat, the Beowolf to get there.

A forty-five minute boat ride took us to the seaweeding spot, a length of beach on which, as the tide receded, was revealed to be covered with the seaweed we had sought; alaria, dolce, and kombu. Alaria is the seaweed we usually harvest, but after the disaster in Japan, international supplies of the other two seaweeds are looking scarce, so we decided to see if we could harvest the others. The wild Alaskan kombu maybe too thick to use and we haven’t sucessfully dried the dolce (Alex tried last year), but we decided to experiment anyways.

The people in the cooking class we very excited to have an opportunity to harvest their own seaweeds.

Fields of Alaria:

Aaron and I concentrated on these more exotic seaweeds- while we worked we talked about how we were planning on drying them and which ones were the best to pick. Aaron thinks that the more we harvest the kombu the more tender it will get, because the plants will be forced to regrow their leaves every year. We also took the opportunity to check out the local fauna:

Besides the starfish I saw seals, sea otters (which can get five or six feet long- they were enormous!), sea anenomes, bald eagles, crabs:

And a colony of living sand dollars:

As if spending the morning seaweeding wasn’t tiring enough, when we got back to Ionia we had to hang it. Here’s Nancy hanging the alaria:

For the kombu we resorted to paperclips:

And three different experiments for the delicate dulse- drying on the tempcast on towels, on a wire rack, on the inside laundry line;

And now I’m exhausted.

Only five more days until I leave Ionia- and I’m just starting to feel like I’m finally here.

-Gwendolyn

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