Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 12 : Spring 2012 - Page 49

Spring’s Green Dreams The Fanciful Fiddlehead by Jan Grieco on behalf of the Central Aroostook Chamber of Commerce Winter, especially in northern Maine, is long and cold. By the end of February, tempers and patience are short and palates are jaded. But as the days lengthen and the ragged snow along the roadsides melts away into rivers and streams, thoughts turn to one of Maine’s most unusual and elusive spring delicacies, the fiddlehead fern. Few things say spring as much as the young coiled heads of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) that Mainers have gathered every spring from the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks for generations. Little else is so much a part of the quicksilver melting of snow and the greening of the Maine landscape as is foraging for the tightly curled, bright green fronds. For Brock Kingsbury of Bridgewater, gathering, selling, and eating fiddleheads is a part of life. “I must have been about eight or nine the first time that I really remember going fiddleheading with gramps,” the twenty-four-year-old Bridgewater resident said. “I probably went before, but that was the first time I really remember.” The art of fiddleheading seems to be one of those things passed down from generation to generation. Although Kingsbury earns his living at the family business, Burtchell Truck, in Mars Hill, he never abandoned gathering the green tendrils as he did as a boy, and he is not alone in his passion for this spring delicacy. In recent years, fiddleheads have seen a surge in popularity. Although there are no hard facts on how many pounds are picked and eaten each year, some say that more than fifty tons make their way to markets and х