You know how you like adventure, but there is always discomfort in any adventure? Stinging Nettle, (Urtica dioica), represents that for me.
When I was maybe six or seven, it occurred to my classmate and I that it would be possible for us to walk across the fields, as the crow flies, and explore. If our Moms drove us, it was about four or five miles, but if we walked , each of us would only have to walk about a half mile to meet in the middle.
We did just that, and I can still remember the ideas we had about the caves which must be under the creek, and how we could dig to find them. Exploring at six years old is such a rush. I’m sure our Moms could probably see us, but it felt like we were at the ends of the earth.
At some point we walked through a nice stand of Stinging Nettle, wearing shorts. And then we started itching. Which just makes it worse. I’m not kidding you, these memories are vivid, even though I’ve probably never told this story to anyone.
Another Stinging Nettle story I remember is with my college friend, Konrad. After graduating from college, my friend Doug and I drove down to Florida, all the way to the Keys, and I bought a surf board in Miami. It was a short board, and I should have purchased a long board, as long boards make it easier to catch marginal waves. I think Wisconsin would have to be the definition of marginal waves, right?
So I felt stupid when I brought the board home, but we started a sport based on a magazine article Doug read. We called it “Streaming.” What you do is tie a rope to a bridge where the river current is strong. We modified the current with some logs we found to make it faster.
You grab the rope, and if the current is strong enough, and your balance is true, you stand, and you are stationary surfing! So of course we had to share this with all our friends. Did I mention you had to walk about a mile on the edge of a cornfield, where the weeds were over your head? That’s just part of the fun!
My college friend Konrad came over for a visit. I told him he may want to wear jeans, as the Stinging Nettle was bad, but he said it was never a problem for him. Why am I such an asshole that I didn’t insist on him wearing jeans? Of course he walked through the Stinging Nettle, and of course he itched. I can still picture his face as he stood in the cold river water and splashed it up over his legs. He was actually moaning.
So Stinging Nettle and I have a history. The final chapter I guess is finding out it was edible, summoning up the courage to put it in my mouth, cooked, and enjoying it. And then finding a woman who will cook it for me!