Other than tracks made by several coyotes following the 7 mule deer I'd seen 20 minutes earlier, and possibly a weasel if I read that track correctly, there hadn't been anyone tramping through this area since the onset of winter back some months ago.
At least that was my take on it as I explored an area bordering the grasshills nearby that I'd traversed to get here.
Although I've visited the area in the summer months, I had not been through here in the winter, and the cattails had my attention. Although I find them of interest most any time of the year, I especially enjoy finding stands of them in the winter, as they have lost their colors of summer, and with the flower head mature, cattails add something to the landscape in terms of beautifying their surroundings.
Of course there is another thing about cattails that make them one of the plants that rises to the top when it comes to usefulness, as if you’re lost out there in the wild and you managed to find a stand of cattails, you’ve basically covered four out of five essential survival items: food, water, shelter and fuel for making a fire (the dried stalks are a great source of heating fuel, with the dried flower heads making terrific tinder for starting the fire.
In the summer months, the tips of cattail are edible and the same goes for the white bottom of the stalk, the rootlets off the main roots (they look like spaghetti) and the spurs off the roots. These parts are also rich in vitamin A, B and C, together with essential minerals like phosphorus and magnesium.
I could go on about the versatility of cattails, but to list just a few of things that cattails have been used for over the past 1000 years, is making pillows, tinder, torches , fire, insulation, for fire transportation. arrow shafts, hand drills, hats, mats, cordage, baskets, bedding, shelters, syrup, bandages for wounds, burns, stings, cuts, bruises, and for mitigating toothaches and more.
It’s important to point out that because cattails grow near the water, and regardless where the water flows, and where you are in the world where cattails grow, if you're lost, you’ll find civilization downstream no matter where you're standing, and that includes this stand of cattails, as the wetlands these cattails border is part of a backwater originating from the Bow river.
Of course it goes without saying that I wasn't lost, just out enjoying a fine winter day in the cattail country of southeastern Alberta..
Expand the photo for a closer look.....