Saturday, July 26, 2014

Edibles of Nantucket

One of my favorite things about Nantucket is the wealth of edible plants on the island. From late May to early October, there is always something waiting to be spotted and foraged, and it makes every walk with the dogs into a treasure hunt for them and me.

Our first day there, I gathered a mix of blueberries and huckleberries (which very closely resemble blueberries in appearance and flavor) for our breakfast pancakes.

Blueberries and huckleberries (and pancakes!) remained a fixture on our trip -- the dogs pretty quickly learned to recognize when I was going to stop and pick berries, and Pongu would romble over to "help" while Crooky took the opportunity to flomp in the shade and rest for a bit -- but there were many other berries as well.


and raspberries (a new discovery this year; as far as I'm aware, there is only one wild raspberry bush on the island, and Pongu found it for me because HE IS THE BEST):

and blackberries:

I had fun.

There were also other plants that aren't quite ready yet -- the beach roses (although the flowers could be used to make a wonderful ice cream, which we had at Ventuno one night) weren't quite ready yet, and the wild grapes will need another month or so to ripen.

And the dogs, being dogs, found plenty of their own treasures to forage. They found dead seabirds and deer skeletons aplenty. Pongu hunted down a rat skeleton (which he rolled in) and Crooky found a patch of skin and hair left over from a dead bunny (which he gobbled).

Crooky also found an enormous mostly-skeletonized fish head from a false albacore or "little tunny," which he triumphantly dragged up from the surf and paraded around proudly... until I took it away from him, mean person that I am.

On top of that, he proved to be quite the crab hunter.

Poor lil' crabs. They never stood a chance.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Dog Mob On Vacation - July 2014

This summer, once again, we took the dogs to Nantucket. Swanky.

The island is, without a doubt, Dog Mob's favorite place on earth. The first time we came, Pongu spent about a week being freaked out of his mind because we were somewhere new!! and scary!!, but now he's used to the cabin and knows that Nantucket means lots of awesome adventures, and it only takes him about a day to settle in.

Crooky, meanwhile, has never been anything other than completely stoked to go to "Bunny Island." I'm pretty sure he hopes that every car trip is going to end up in a surprise visit to Nantucket.

Anyway, they figured out our destination when we got to Hyannis Port and they could smell the sea and hear the seagulls screeching. At that point, both dogs went completely bananas, and bananas they stayed until we got to the cabin.

Waiting to load onto the ferry at Hyannis Port:

The ferry ride was fairly stressful for the dogs. We went on the vehicle ferry, which normally means they can just sit in the car and I'll read my Kindle and it's a relatively easy two-hour trip, but this time we ended up on the open-air ferry and our car was parked with the broken window facing an extremely loud air vent, so it was way too loud and scary for the dogs to sit in the car and we had to spend most of the ride out on deck with the salt spray in our faces (which is fun and glamorous for like ten minutes and then just becomes annoying. Seawater is sticky and leaves a gross-feeling patina on your skin in short order).

Crooky laid down and went to sleep on the deck when he got bored. Pongu spent the trip quietly hyperventilating, but handled it pretty well as long as I stayed near him and he had a wall to cower against.

And then we got to the cabin, where the furry little welcoming committee was waiting to greet the dogs.

(There are actually two bunnies in that picture, although the second one is far away and hard to make out against the greenery. Also, Pongu's expression in the mirror behind me makes me laugh and laugh.)

We've been here for most of a week and Dog Mob has settled into our island routine. I spend the mornings and early afternoons writing, we spend the late afternoon and early evening on hiking adventures, and when everyone is exhausted, we return to the cabin to watch some TV (currently: HBO's Carnivale, which we missed when it was originally on. It's pretty good, although solidly second-tier, and now that we're in S2 I can see why it fell off the air). Some nights we go out to dinner, others we don't.

But every day, without fail, Dog Mob gets to spend hours exploring the wilderness, bounding across the moors, rolling in the grass on the Serengeti or Sanford Farm pastures, and looking for deer and bunnies to chase.

They have wallowed in bogs and (accidentally, while over-enthusiastically chasing geese through deceptively thick cattails) jumped into lakes.

They've run full speed across open fields and perched carefully on craggy rocks (because I asked, and they are Good Dogs so they are willing to oblige me).

They have chased deer and bunnies and birds, and phantom noises and smells that might have been anything at all. I let them run free to chase whatever they want across the moors, because I have no concern that either of my dogs will get lost and I also have no concern that they'll ever catch or even threaten anything (Pongu won't go more than 50 feet away from me, and Crooky is much too slow and ungainly, especially now with his spondylosis, to run down even the most leadfooted rabbit). Pongu has literally tripped over a rabbit that startled out of the bushes in front of him -- he stepped on its back with at least one and possibly two feet -- and still neither of them could catch the bunny.

Here, they have total freedom on our walks. And that's the real reason we keep coming back.