Today I packed up all my gear to go out in the field, went out my driveway, locked the gate, headed down the divided highway, then remembered I forgot my iPod. Next cut in the median I turned around, came back, unlocked the gate, got my iPod, locked the gate again. Got all the way to the office, 25 mile trip, and realized the truck keys are still on the shelf in my house. I have to drive the State of Florida truck because it’s the mileage on the truck that they track. So back to Georgia I go.
When I get near my driveway I see a car parked there. What the?! Nice shiny Acura. I’m jealous. So I pull up and open the locked gate and go in the driveway. I see two people in shiny visors and particle masks tiptoeing through my woods carrying plastic grocery bags. I took a picture of their license plate and then went to chase them away. The first one I yelled at looked up surprised and took off her particle mask and waved her hands. (Particle mask for pine pollen, I think. It’s in the air right now like you were belt sanding a plank with 60 grit.)
She’s an Asian woman, doesn’t speak English. Motions to the other one. She comes over and I explain this is private property and they aren’t allowed to be here. She said “Oh, we picking (holds up bracken fern fiddleheads). Good foh women!”
“I’m sure, but it’s not good for me woman that you’re trespassing on my land! You can’t pick those here. Steal somebody else’s fiddleheads. I’m not insured against you stepping in a hole or getting snake bit. You better be careful or you’ll get shot or chased by dogs traipsing through people’s woods!”
“Solly, solly, we go.” And they walked slowly towards the gate, looking at the ground. Whenever they saw a fern sprout they’d bend over and pick it and put it in their bag.
I told them to try the Apalachicola National Forest, somewhere public!
Now I’m sort of sorry I was so mean. Maybe I should have made them show me how to prepare these fiddleheads. What exactly do they do “for women”?
Maybe I should start locking the door to my house when I leave. I’ll come home and there will be a crew of Asian women with osteoporosis and cramps in here crowded around my Mr. Induction hot plate, stir frying all the new growth in my woods.