As autumn creeps upon us, the Island nights are drawing in. Soon the cows and sheep will return to the machair (fertile land by the sea) and so, local crofters are lifting their crops before the animal are put back to graze.
Low tide is of course, when it all happens for the seaweed forager or for that matter the hunter of razor clams. The tides when there is less differentiation between low and high tide marks are called neap tides. These occur a week after spring tides and are of less interest to a seaweed forager.
After a very long walk on an Outer Hebridean beach, where I exhausted my chagrin by pulling dulse from storm-wrecked tangle, as it glistened in the late autumn sun; I mustered up the courage to order Sally McKenna's Extreme Greens, Understanding Seaweed.
The condiment salt is referenced throughout the Old Testament, not only as an essential preservative but for its useful flavourings in food (Job 6:6). In Genesis 19, Lot's wife is turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying the angel's warning and looking back to Sodom as they fled to Zoar.
I travelled on to the South West of England where the gorse was blushing a second bloom and Cornish seawater a tad warmer.The carrageen was certainly less shy, I found it in rock pools higher up the lower shore than on The Hebrides.
This week, my local beach has been unusually busy as crofters gather storm-damaged seaweed. Traditionally seaweed has been collected on the western coastal areas of Ireland and Scotland and used as a fertiliser, but in Scotland it also has a rich industrial history.
It is said that whilst coastal Irish and Scottish cows chewed the cud, the farmers chewed the dulse. Raw dulse requires considerable chewing but dried and stir-fried, as in this recipe, it becomes a rather moreish nibble.