Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.
I know Dorothea McKellar’s old recitation piece is hokey. It’s also sublime. And she understood how Oz works. Nothing. Something. Too much. Nothing again. And so on.
A huge dump of rain has brought on a third, if minor, shooting. I’ve never had this kind of staggered spring before. Moso handles it: for all I know the mid-north coast is its favourite growing region and it can handle anything here. I’m not sure I can handle it.
There remains the chance of possum damage as the new culms rise near branches which will support the weight of those animals. (I’ve no idea why possums don’t attack the shoots at ground level, where they often brawl over sex and food scraps).
Big winds in the vulnerable week when the culms are high, heavy with new sap, and still tender could cause damage. That happened last year, costing me up to 20% of the gains of a good season.
Nonetheless, the grove will extend this year, with more adult or nearly adult culms. It’s a win. Te deum laudamus.
Time for a moso hotpot. This one is based on beef mince and sichuan flavourings. Sichuan pepper, chili, soy, ginger, garlic and a few other things. This is when your frozen bamboo shoots, added toward the end of cooking, really work well. While keeping their crunch and nuttiness, they absorb and balance those sharpish Asian flavours. Good chewin’, as the locals say.
Here I need to register a possible health-positive concerning bamboo shoots. For those concerned with “regularity”, moso shoots are the most gentle yet potent unblockers I’ve ever eaten. It’s not really a concern for me, but those who have a problem in this regard should consider this extra benefit of edible ‘boo.
The grove is now extremely yellow and ragged. This is the peak of Bamboo Autumn, to which I’ve referred elsewhere. Every spare scrap of energy and moisture goes to the root and new shoots in spring. It’s not uncommon to be alerted by neighbours that your bamboo appears to be dying. It’s not dying. Look down…it’s shooting!
And in honour of Bamboo Autumn, and actual autumn in Europe…