Spice Route Discovered

img_0002.jpgimg_0004.jpg(Yews at eleven)
TODAY I rode up a very beautiful track today, deep in the heart of the Park of Samuel Taylor. It was the kind of ride that allows conversation, the soft trail surface held no surprises and the utter silence of the trees surrounded us. Rolling to a stop beneath a curious tree with drooping branches, I asked my riding pal if he knew this one.
He didn’t.
It resembled a Doug fir, but the ‘teeth’ on the comb were about twice the length of fir bristles. The bark was smoothish, very different from either redwood or fir. More like bay’s thin bark.

Pulled a small sample off the tree, noting the impressively sharp, oppositely arranged flattish needles…and when i brought them to David Lee Hoffman (tea master and songbird spokesman/activist) he exclaimed it was a California nutmeg!
As in: free flavorant!
When will it produce the precious berry?
I checked on the web–it IS an edible nutmeg, and luckily this rare tree which has a very favorable compound in beating cancer (taxol) is spared from extermination by swift-acting chemists who figured out how to synthesise the neccessary active ingredients…
Tea chez Hoffman was wonderful, warm, engaging. The house(s) /habitats he’s created for himself are unique. You pass through portals, go through a tunnel, emerge into a tea room, and then into a kitchen from the turn of the century!
Home GROWN wheat, milled on the spot. Glazed tile -roofed pagoda. Deep pool. Labyrinthine layout. Bring breadcrumbs next time….
Soft round of bread dough on the counter, I’ll be returning for a slice of that, David!

We drank three kinds of tea, just like they do in China, with a slotted tea table, tiny little lidded pots,and a trio of glass pitchers and three separate tea cups, very small and white to show off the different colors of the teas….
Snarfed some of the well-mascerated persimmon pudding I’d thoughtfully packed along (thoughtful because had I forgotten, his refrigerator–if he has one–would have been depleted).
It will require pages to describe things fairly, and I would have to find out if it’s even permissible, since his place is much more like Shangri-la than like a West Marin bungalow… the movie shows it well… one has to be very careful with those places…thanks to the ( voice lowers to a whisper: rhymes with “shilling instructor”).

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