My mother took a botany class in college and became a self-styled naturalist. After we had all left home and started families of our own, she became a docent for the Snake Lake Nature Center. Mom enjoyed taking her grandchildren on walks around the lake, pointing out wildlife and teaching them the names of plants. She often quoted the old adage: leaves of three leave them be, to warn us away from poison ivy, and taught us how to identify deadly nightshade.
One day as she was leading two of my nephews along a path through the wooded wetlands, she plucked a leaf from a plant, popped it in her mouth and began to chew. “Nettles,” she announced happily, “you can eat nettles.” Then her expression suddenly changed to one of growing alarm. “Wait…mah tong ith goin num!” Poor Mom, either she didn’t know or had forgotten that, while stinging nettles are edible, they must first be cooked or soaked in water in order to remove the plant chemical that makes them sting.
We miss our Mom.