Saturday, May 17, 2008

Searching for Spruce Roots

While up at the cottage, I took the time to source out some spruce roots to complete the project. The kit seemed to have provided sufficient amounts, but somehow I ended up with a three, foot-long pieces and still had to stitch up 14 gore cuts. Most readings mentioned that Black Spruce (Picea mariana) was preferred, but it tends to grow along boggy areas that I wasn't about to trek out to, not when some acceptable White Spruce (Picea glauca) was easily obtained near the property.

Spring is apparently the best time to collect, not only because the roots are easier to dig up but because the bark peels off them quite easily. With the highest snowfall in the province this year (546 centimetres, or just under 18 feet!) all melted away, the ground was nice and soft - an extra bonus. In order to avoid excessively tangled roots, the readings suggest finding spruce next to open lots. I happened to find 3 white spruce trees growing on the nearby hotel propery and basically went under the well concealed canopy to dig out some roots. Using an old rusty hatchet, finding the shallow buried roots was easy enough. I purposely extracted the smaller, thinner roots well away from the base of the tree and ended ended up with a nice batch.

Digging up white spruce roots

A quick soak in hot water and the bark easily peeled off revealing a creamy white root. Apparently after soaking overnight in a lake or when dried and re-boiled frequently, they turn into a reddish-brown colour - the colour of the roots provided in the kit and used in lashing the gunwales.

Splitting the fresh root

Splitting was easy with these fresh roots and I found that they split more evenly than the previously dried stuff. At any rate, the project can now continue.

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