“Ahh hello there! What have you got there in your bag?”
No I’ve not been conducting some informal self-training for Customs inspections. I’m curious is all. When I see someone in an enormous jacket with a funny hat who has climbed over the harbour wall from the intertidal below with a well-stuffed plastic bag of… ‘Well, I say… what might that be he has there?’ is a question that springs like a Sika throughout the pulpy bits in my skull. It was, as I hoped, seaweed.
Michael had come down to harvest his personal stash of Carageen/Irish Moss (Cosáinín in Irish; Chondrus crispus) last September and with his stocks running low, made the trip out to replenish it. When I first leapt upon him (verbally) his eyebrow arched so high as to pull half of his face up to almost knock off his hat. I took it as a sure sign of favour as a strange smile tore out to one side of his mouth. He had a spare plastic bag for me and together we bounded back over the harbour wall to descend into the intertidal. A nice spot to forage too it was, and a little work before heading off dancing would only add smiles to the wiggles.
Well-washed with rain, blasted by wind and bleached by what sun forces a path through the clouds out West here, and the Carageen turns to gold. Both in colour but also in value. Michael had been imbibing of a draught made from Carageen for as long as he could recall, ‘Good for the chest… those with the asthma… with weak chests.’ He spoke with his mouthful too; within the rock-pools the red flames of Dulse/Dillisk (Duileasc; Palmaria palmata) gently waltzed with a colourful swathe of other algal species; he’d plucked some of the maroon tips to munch on as he described the rack he’d constructed for drying the weed. ‘The Carageen needs the weather, wind and rain and sun, but don’t get the Duileasc wet! The salt will wash off and that’s where the flavour is!’
Back at home the spare bedroom may not smell the same again. Out of the rain but blasted by sun and the wind let whistle through the window, the clothes rack has found a new use. Michael suggested that the Duileasc would be right after only a few days like this. The Carageen, stuffed into a large onion-bag that now looks like a seething black pillow, will be out on the balcony to be weathered for the next two or so weeks. The stash should do us until at least christmas I’d say. I might be back out to Kilcummin and perhaps I’ll meet yer man again for a thermos of tea.