Barbara Lounder

Taste stains

Tag Score: Use a bodily organ to seek information

Tag Location: Halifax, Canada

Mine was a process of seeking information while walking the outdoor spaces of the Nova Scotia Hospital
(now the Mental Health Program of the Capital Health District), using my tastebuds, the organs of taste.
The Hospital was established in the 1850’s as the Mount Hope Lunatic Asylum, and the grounds are now
home to the Common Roots Urban Farm, a non-profit organization that carries out community gardening
to promote mental health, food security, and strong communities. Plots are used by neighbourhood
residents, hospital staff and clients, with some areas for public foraging. The gardens are closed during
the lockdown; I walked, chewed, and spat out around the edges, thinking about the shifting bounds of
normalcy, and judgement.

All the images are of rag blotter papers, 3” x 6”, with stains and residue from chewed and spat out organic
materials. They are available as high-resolution files upon request.

01 Tiny rosehips, April 28, 2021
Note: I feel unsure about what I can safely put in my mouth right now. These tiny rosehips from
last Summer are dry and crumbly, desiccated.

02 Clover, May 4, 2021
Note: Two 3-leaf clovers, chewed together. Bitter, and then a little sweet. Probably safe to
swallow. Thinking about the two oxen who were brought here to plow this field when Common
Roots started the community garden a few years ago. This is my favourite blotter because of the
staining around the edges, and the way the pools of clover look like eyes or eyeglasses.

03 Violets, May 7, 2021 (1 of 2 with the same caption)
Note: I found a patch of violets blooming on a grassy slope on Research Drive, near the
innovation/industrial park I cut through while walking back from the Hospital. This affirms my
belief that what I am doing is truly research! Violets are delicious.

04 Chives, April 26, 2021
Note: the chives are out now in the community garden, having overwintered. This was my first
day working on this project, and I hadn’t yet seen the signs about the gardens being off-limits to
the public during the current lockdown. The chives were tender, covered with dew, a fresh green
colour, and left a tingly heat in my mouth.

05 Lupin leaf, May 4, 2021
Note: I sit on the slope overlooking the harbour and eat a small, new lupin leaf. It is almost
unbearably bitter, green tasting, and difficult to chew. Fibrous. I’m careful not to swallow any.

06 Rosemary, April 26, 2021
Note: Last year’s plant, with no new growth yet. I eat some dry, crunchy leaves from last
Summer. They are strong and take time to break down in my mouth. The flavour slowly releases

07 Rosehip, May 4, 2021
Note: This is a big rosehip from last year, still very juicy and wet. Messy and glorious. Is anyone

08 2 dandelion flowers, May 4, 2021
Note: Two flowers today, while watching a red cardinal. Bits of the petals get stuck in my teeth. I
chew and chew and chew, then quickly spit. There is a mild, powdery feeling in my mouth. There
are other people on the path near me and I wonder if anyone is watching.

09 Dandelion flower, April 28, 2021
Note: Just one flower, very yellow and a little bit sweet.

10 Forsythia, May 7, 2021
Note: I try some forsythia blossoms on my way home. Sharp at first. You can get used to many

11 Magnolia petal, May 6, 2021
Note: someone told me that magnolia petals taste a bit like ginger, and now I can say that yes they
do. Soft.

12 Sage, April 28, 2021
Note: Last year’s plant, not yet revived. Culinary, not ceremonial sage. Gritty, sandy, crunchy.
I’m thinking about pica.

13 Violets, May 7, 2021 (2 of 2 with the same date and caption)
Note: I’m going back to Research Drive for more violets. A friend told me that the mucilaginous
paste from grinding them can be used as a salve. Not sure if chewing them to make the paste
would work as well.

14 Violets, May 4, 2021
Note: I cut through the industrial park on my way back from the hospital, and found violets
growing along Research Drive. The desire to return for more is making me think about
dromomania, and all the compulsive walkers I have seen over the years that I’ve lived near the
NS Hospital. Neighbours.

15 Horsetails, April 28, 2021
Note: I sit in the grass just beyond the edge of the garden, since it is closed to the public now
because of lockdown. This hospital still has some in-patients, although most of the programs here
are provided through out-patient clinics. And there are many staff. All more vulnerable to
infection than I am.

16 Dandelion leaf, April 26, 2021
Note: powerful, green, bitter. I hold this in my mouth for as long as I can.