Beans and Greens

The greens I had in mind were turnips or kale or collards, chard or spinach. But on our last hike, a day when we drove out of thick and chilly fog, through the meadows and farms above Sequim to the Upper Dungeness trailhead – I thought of the “great green room” of Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon.”

But that wasn’t quite what I saw. The trail begins in a stand of old growth trees – the firs and hemlocks aren’t so enormous in girth as they are tall – so tall you trip backwards attempting to see the tops.

Under those trees, we hiked in a chlorophyll-filled world, following a clear non-glacial stream, through the green glow of forest. Not a room exactly but more like being inside a leaf – a journey along veins and ribs – with the sun shining through.

Moss covers logs beside the riverbank, like a thick green version of the fuzzy white lining of fava bean pods. Shiny leaves on plants of mahonia and queen’s cup, moss, ferns, and kinnikinick cover the ground to each side of the trail. Miniature woodlots of lime green seedlings grow on nurse logs. One huge stump’s roots lie nearly in the river with a tiny fir forest fuzzing its top. An orange columbine caught my eye, but mostly there is no color beyond the gradations of greens.

The ascent is kind because of a gradual elevation gain and bridges made from logs – both bridges with hand rails and flattened tops built by the Forest Service (it’s thrilling, but safe, to stand on a log in the middle of the river) – or bridges created by nature, casual downfalls slippery with spray, reaching across a snow-melt creek.

Camp Handy – our turnaround point three miles in – is a wooden shelter next to a sunny meadow. Gravel bars, surrounded by a thick stand of willow, edge the river. Mountains enclose this long valley.

We spread windbreakers on a groundcover of wood strawberry and moss, ate tortilla de patatas sandwiches (contained by panini buns this time), and watched yellow butterflies on buttercups and cow parsley.

Walking out, down through green loveliness – I wondered about life’s big questions like, “What’s for dinner?”

The night before I sautéed golden turnip greens with onions and garlic, and added cannellini beans cooked with sage. Classic beans and greens. And a side of fava beans – the outer felted pods removed and beans sautéed in a little olive oil with garlic.

So, easy dinner this night would be the leftover beans added to a salad made from a gathering of greens – several different lettuces, avocado, snow peas, small chop of broccoli, spinach, frilly Savoy cabbage – and an orange highlight from a sliced nectarine. Olive oil with Meyer lemon and blackberry balsamic vinegar (treats brought by a friend from the Pike Street Market in Seattle) will quickly combine into a delicious salad dressing.

In and amongst all those greens I saw in the forest was fava bean green – the green of the tender inside part, teased from its husk and eaten with pleasure. I’ll add those in. Beans and greens.

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