Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reaching 100

A few weeks ago we cracked and ate a few butternuts gathered from trees growing near our parents' homes in Connecticut. They were sweet and soft, and tasted rather like artificial banana flavoring. These nuts marked our 100th wild edible.

It was an anticlimactic moment. We've been so busy this fall that foraging has been a bit catch as catch can, stash in the fridge, remember to process something quickly. But perhaps this is what fall was always like for foraging peoples of colder climbs. As winter approaches, families rushed to be prepared. Formerly, they had to make sure enough food was put by, houses were tightly sealed, kindling was dry and nearby. Today, many of us still rush to be ready. Living as we do on our crazy road out in the woods, we have to make sure the studded snow tires are on, the truck is in good repare, the road is cleared of obstacles, the wood is dried and stacked, snow clothes fit and are retrieved from the nether regions of our basement. And we also love putting up local food (I processed 70 pounds of tomatoes this fall), planting bulbs, and picking apples.

So perhaps, it is fitting that although we have now eaten 103 wild foods, the occasion of 100 was not solemn and ceremonious. Perhaps the time for ceremony is when those first marsh marigolds, those first wild leeks, those first crocuses burst from the frosty ground, signaling the end of waiting, storing, sleeping and the beginning of color and lush green flavor.

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