Sunday, September 09, 2007

One of my "devotions" is wild foods. I haven't talked about it so overtly, but now that it's fall, it's harvest season, and I'm out and about with my bags and my basket, I should. It's such a huge part of my life.
Having read the historical novel by Gabaldon, I am drawn back to my love of this kind of story, be it the Jean Auel or Anne McCaffrey books.
Females are drawn to "gathering" and we are enticed to do so at many modern edifices, from Tuesday Morning to WalMart to flea markets and auction houses.
This is a falsely led instinct, in my own book. Our instincts lead us to the woods, where there are specials every month. It's always free, and needs only our strolling approval to participate.

This month, it's Bay Boletes. Wow, look at those beauties! I also picked up handfuls of cranberries and a few blackberries. Blueberries I simply grabbed off the elevated trailside (above pollution by fox-bandworm levels) and nibbled for their rich tartness and high protein.

Rather than just read about people gathering the natural world to them, I have chosen to participate. It began in Texas, helping my mom with Muscadine grape jelly. Later, I gathered my own, starting with dewberries in the steaming Texas spring. Mushrooms in Texas are not a common thing, not anything sanely edible, anyway.

My love of mushrooms really got started in Indiana where I learned about Morels and learned to hunt them, no thanks to the local selfish (short) park ranger at the state park in Lawrence.

I figured it out, I gathered kilos of them, I gathered oyster and Judas ear mushrooms and plentiful puffballs as well. I stuck to the easy ones, nothing which could ever be confused with something poisonous.

Later, having landed in Germany, I read up on Boletes and Cantherellus, as well as other temperate specialties. I experimented (with spore prints) and got better and better, more confident. Now I am pretty sure about my "easy" mushrooms and my "don't try it" ones.

In the wake of all the China food scares, I just hope they don't manufacture Iams cat food over there, because that's all our elderly kitty will eat.

For myself, I'd be perfectly happy tending some chickens, rabbits, fish, or hunting regularly for all of the above plus venison. I know that I eat animals, I'm OK with that. I have killed for food before, and find it far more comfortable and ethical than just buying cold flesh in styrofoam.

Let me loose in the woods, and I'll keep us fed more often than not. I love nuts, mushrooms, berries and I can tickle a fish from the water, given fish in said water. I love this lifestyle, and find it more evident in fall, when I set out to the woods with a carefully divided and sorted bag over my shoulder. I also gather rose hips for health tonic.

I buy local German eggs, and I'll keep looking for ways to keep eating locally in this so-tight European economy.
I have to drive with these trucks on the highway, so the motivation is very real, to keep them to a minimum.

I have a garden full of sunflowers, Romanesque, green onions, crookneck squash and collards. I even have sweet corn and strawberries! My herb garden has parsley, mints, tarragon, sage, savory, oregano/majoram, thyme, lemongrass and bay.

Each of us just have to find ways to do for ourselves. Eat local. Never mind bio, never mind organic. Eat local. See what's good, check it out, enjoy it!

Life is good in every season. Just give it a try.

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