collected wild fennel from my secret spot today, to make wild fennel liqueur for sunday's popup, and for wild fennel pollen to last through to next summer, hopefully. it's wonderful to sort through the plants with my pruners, kept in the glove box for this purpose, cutting the stalks and stems in various stages of maturity, bees buzzing about without too much aggravation. if you're peaceful and quiet they don't take much notice of you, even as you steal their vital sustenance. i guess there's enough to go round. it is essential to the liqueur to harvest the stalks at this particular point, when there are several different flavors on the plant: some of the tiny yellow flowers are still in bloom for color and verve; some fully formed seeds for depth of flavor and nuttiness; a few fronds still green and vital for brightness; all given backbone by the thickened stalks. of course, the perfect blossoms are saved for drying in the attic, hooked to the ceiling in brown bags, bottled airtight after you've shaken them free in the bag. the liqueur takes a while, as all preserved foods do, as patience is required with all things of this nature. patience, and as my friend robin says, a steady hand. he means you have to know where you're going when you cook. and he knows.