Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nature's Abundance

As I walk our land and surrounding properties, right now there is an amazing amount of wild foods growing. We have wild hazelnuts ripening, saskatoon berries, salal, thimble berries, black cap raspberries, wild cherries, rose hips, salmon berries, huckleberries, blackberries (both the native trailing ones and the non-natives) and indian plum, to name a few. In the woods and roadsides, I often see old apple and plum trees growing untended. I wonder if they are the remnants of someone's old homestead, or just grew from a thrown pit or core. In the spring we look for nettle shoots and morel mushrooms.

I love identifying and harvesting wild foods and herbs, and I feel safe doing so and teaching my children because I do a lot of self-study about plants. I grew up taking nature walks with my parents and studying their guidebooks. My dad was a science teacher and naturalist, and when we would go into the forest or even parks, he would take his sketchbook and guides and teach me what was growing around us. To this day when I am in nature I subconsciously scan and classify the plants I see. I wonder if it is from my childhood experiences or some throwback to our hunter-gatherer brains. I am teaching my kids what I know and learning with them as we spend time in nature. My seven year old can tell a ponderosa pine from a douglas fir or red cedar, and my ten year old can identify many wild herbs and tell me what they are used for. They snack on the wild berries that are abundant right now.

In a few weeks the blackberries will be ripe and I hope to pick lots and make pints of blackberry jam. I have made strawberry, strawberry-currant-gooseberry, and currant-gooseberry jam so far, and I hope to make blueberry jam in the next week.

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