This spring, multiple people started sending me links to newspaper and magazine articles with recipes for stinging nettles. I guess nettles are the new spinach or something like that. One of the authors had even transplanted nettles INTO her yard. I think she’s crazy. For seven years I’ve been pulling nettles from the land around our cabin because otherwise, the boys come inside crying and demanding band-aids all day long.
A nettle burn isn’t as immediately painful as a bee sting, but the sting lasts a lot longer, and throbs even hours later when you wash your hands or shower.
The first time I was burned by nettles, I declared war. It was May and all of Uyak was brown, cold, and snowy. This was my first summer at the fishsite, and the realization that I would be wearing long johns into July was extremely depressing. I was desperate for some sign of summer. When I spotted the first green on the ground I sat down and brushed my hand lovingly over the little leaves. It turns out that even tiny baby nettles have an evil sting.
Nettles will grow anywhere—under other plants, up and around rocks and gravel and boards and steps. By August they are shoulder high and surround the cabin. But if you pull the nettles long enough, the grass fills in. This feels like winning, until the grass takes over your garden beds.
Allegedly, nettles are super healthy and delicious, but in order to cook with them you must first put on gloves, pick only the top six or eight leaves, and then boil them to take out the sting. We cooked them for the first time this summer, and they weren’t bad, although secretly I still just want them all to disappear. Like Twitter.
As a writer just starting out, you often hear that if you hope to publish books, you need to establish an Internet presence and gather fans and followers. Blog and tweet your heart out, you’re told. I’m not entirely convinced—I don’t see a lot of blogs connected to the writers listed with the Barclay Agency. But I am not a Barclay author. So…
I am trying to think of this website in a new light. I’m thinking of clever, funny blogs. Or blogs, like my friend Megan’s, that read like a little gift. Plus, such posts are usually short, which is good, because I’m a slow writer in the best of situations, which is basically the opposite of my current situation—fulltime mom of two boys under five on an island without roads. The fact that my first website entry took all summer to post is pretty much proof of that. I am writing this between requests hollered from the boys’ room for milk and more stories and a belly rub. Obviously I will not be writing any posts about successful techniques for putting your children to bed. I can’t believe we’ve survived five years of this.
Also, I will not be posting tutorials of cooking with nettles or of baking with rhubarb, unless I get really desperate. Honestly? After the boys tried nettles, they asked for one of these.
I know they’re loaded with MSG, but did you know that Momofuku Ando—the inventor of Cup Noodle—lived to be 96, and claimed that he ate ramen noodles daily? Tuck that information away for the next trivia night.