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Thursday, July 6, 2017


...PEA POD...
Thursday, 745 AM.  68 degrees F at the ferry dock,  the same on the back porch.  Wind W, gale force, bearing thunderstorms.  The sky is covered with dark clouds and it has begun to rain lightly, the humidity still relatively low at 82%.  The barometer is diving, now at 29.83".  Thunderstorms this morning, followed by clearing this afternoon, highs near 80, then cooler with mixed skie suntil next Wednesday, when there will be chances of thunderstorms again.
   This is no morning to be in the woods; several trees or large branches snapped off with a crash as we walked this morning.  A young crow must have been knocked out of the nest in the woods across the street, as the parents were answering its plaintive calls and wheeling around the sight of the accident in defensive mode.  Buddy does not like all this at all and is huddled at my feet under the desk
   Beach peas, Lathyros japonica, of course in the Pea Family, are suddenly blooming everywhere now along roadsides and on the beaches.  The rose-pink, occasionally white, flower clusters can be really outstanding, but the pea vines are very hard to control and it is best kept out of the garden.  The species name, japonica, refers to the fact that it is circumpolar in northern latitudes.  It is an iconic plant of the shores of the Great Lakes.  Being a seashore plant, it even shows up in the southern hemisphere on the coasts of Chile.
   I am fascinated by its similarities to garden peas in characteristics of the flowers, the pod and how it opens, and how the peas resemble garden peas, although smaller. They even taste like garden peas, but rther mealy.
   According to Moerman’s Native American Ethnobotany, the beach pea, Lathyrus japonica, was used by several North American Indian tribes for food or medicine. Although the Inuit considered them poisonous, the Iroquois used the stalks for food and to treat rheumatism, and the Mokah (Pacific Northwest) ate the immature seeds. There is no reference in that text to use by our local Ojibwa.
   The garden pea, Pisum sativa, has been cultivated in Europe for thousands of years, and was probably collected for food in the wild long before written history.
   My recorded first bloom dates are: 7/02/16; 7/09/15; 7/12/14; 7/14/13; 6/27/12; 7/09/11; 6/19/10. This year's first bloom date seems about normal, or even a little early, even though it was a somewhat reluctant spring.

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