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Thrift Shopping and Spruce Tips

Howdy! Today was brilliant. The sun baked my skin and the heat was refreshing for once (not that Arizona heat haha!). I was so surprised to wake up this morning to hear Austin wanted to go to the thrift store. Surprised? Yes. He doesn’t like thrift shopping with me because I can take forever and a day, and then I’ll want to visit more than one shop... there’s a St. Vinnies on the corner near my MIL’s house, so close I could walk there in 10 minutes, and off we went.

I walked inside and felt a sense of freshness and relief. It’s been months since I’ve stepped into a thrift store, and this one was completely new to me. It was so organized, so clean, and so much stuff!! I wandered around each department, sorted through the clothes and scanned the books. I ended up with a ceramic coffee mug, a new t-shirt, a Wisconsin Lore book, a new foraging basket, and a darling little brooch to wear on my vintage clothes. I was officially ready for the day.

Austin went off to do a job and I hopped in my truck to go foraging again, to the same park I found all those morels in. It was my goal to pick a bunch of spruce tips for some dairy free ice cream. I’ve frequented this park many times, so all the spots for certain things lived in my head like an encyclopedia; I knew where everything was. There’s a huge line of aged spruce trees at the edge of the road with a trail on the other side of it. Twenty minutes was all it took to pick about two cups of spruce tips.

Maybe you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about!

Every spring, most of the trees put out new growth. Some trees make new shoots and branches. Coniferous trees do the same, though it looks a bit different. Spruce tips are the name of the new growth. You’re supposed to pick them when they still have a sheath over them, but I picked mine today if they were an inch or smaller. There’s tons of uses for them. Ice cream. Additions to salads. Teas. Cooking them up. If you do a simple google search you’ll be sure to find something. They are high in vitamin C like a lot of pines, and are helpful for upper respiratory issues. I also believe they help with inflammation too. I’m all about eating things that are also healing, so I picked enough for ice cream and to dry them out and save them for when I need them.

It’s times like these that I wish I had space for an apothecary. *sigh* In all due time.

After picking the spruce tips I went over to my morel spot. I noticed many other things growing over there, including some ancient looking apple trees! I’m guessing that whoever lived in the house there planted those trees and lived all those years. They are huge, untamed, and full of pink blossoms. I spotted other apple trees at the edge of the forest, which could have been planted or maybe planted by some animal who got lucky enough to eat one of those prized apples. I also found some more artifacts, two unique bottles and a few worn buttons, just wedged into the mossy soil. I find it so peculiar that who ever lived here just left all of this stuff laying everywhere, but I suppose most of the trees and plants present here now weren’t there years ago as they don’t look very old. Remnants of towering oaks and willow lay on the forest floor, some of their roots still anchored in the soil. I might have to do some reading about this place as it intrigues me so.

Sparky and I got lost on a “pink” trail, not knowing where it was taking us but inferring it was where we’ve been before. Under a canopy of tall cedars and junipers Sparky galavanted for squirrels and I pondered whether or not to pick some cedar for smudge sticks. I didn’t know the difference between the cedars and junipers, they are very different than the ones I met in Arizona, so I didn’t pick any. I have decided though that I’d like to give the smudge sticks a try, using plants that are more sustainable and that I can easily harvest from the forest. I’ll have to consult the Magical Book of Herbs for this one.

Eventually we found our way back to the trail and picked a few more spruce tips before heading off. When we got back to the truck, I noticed a trail on the other side of the park, calling me down its grassy path and into a new neck of the woods. Foreshadowing that I will be back tomorrow.

Austin and I made some spruce tip nice cream. I cannot eat dairy, and I wish to share vegan options for foragables with you, so I hope this will suffice. I can only imagine how great the real thing is, but that’s as far as I’m getting - imagining! I wanted to share the simple nice cream recipe with you!

3 frozen bananas

1/2 cup of spruce tips

a dash of vanilla extract

almond milk as needed

In a blender, add all ingredients and blend on high. Those spruce tips should be so ground up they are no longer recognizable. You should need at least a cup or two of almond milk, but add as much as you need to make it creamy. Put it in a glass container and set in the freezer for awhile. It’s gonna taste piney, but it is refreshing in a way that only spruce tips can provide. It is like becoming a tree!

The rest of the afternoon was spent working. I’ve decided to put together another book, another adventure book of our trip from Ireland. A lot happened for me internally there, and I wish to revisit our road trip and write about it. I’m really excited for this one! It’s been on my mind for awhile now and I’m happy to commit to a new project. The bonus of it is that I’ve got most of it written, I just need to put it together and add some pictures to it to make it extra special. I’ll keep you updated on how it progresses!

As the sun sets, I feel a sense of renewal, a blank slate if you will. Gemini season started today and everything feels simple. Thank you Gemini.

Much love and adventure to you!


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