I’ve just come through a little over a month’s worth of overwhelm. From jobs in my screen-printing business (that’s my real-life job) to garden chores such as transplanting an overabundance of seedlings (like, I’m talking hundreds), to struggling to find time to work in the studio (and mostly losing THAT battle), to everywhere I look something demands my attention… meal prep, laundry, dirty bathrooms, outside commitments … you know the drill. I know it’s not an original story. Nowadays, virtually everyone feels the pressure to go faster, work harder, keep checking off ALL. THOSE. BOXES. …and some days, it just seems too much.
And then along comes one of those nearly forgotten commitments, something actually for yourself, and for a couple of hours the rest of the world fades into the background and “time” goes on hiatus.
Last week I went with a group led by Russ Cohen, author* and active land conservation advocate, on a plant walk… identifying edible and medicinal plants. As I told my sister, “We picked weeds… and we ate them too!” As for the eating weeds part, we picked and tasted wood sorrel. It looks like a three-leaf clover and its flavor is tart and lemony. It would be a delicious addition to a salad, or you can make a “lemonade” or brew it as tea. It’s very high in vitamin C. (Apparently, it’s important to NOT eat a lot of it because one of its constituents, oxalic acid, can block calcium absorption.)
Up and down the road we went as Russ introduced us to plantain (wound healing), elderberry (elderberry wine, elderberry syrup), Curly Dock (use like spinach, high in iron), Chicory (you’ve seen this in the grocery store as a coffee substitute), Stinging Nettles (so highly nutritious!), and loads of berries… Dewberry, Huckleberry, Black Cherry, Partridge Berry, Wintergreen/Winterberry/Teaberry (you guessed it, gives us the wintergreen flavor we’re all familiar with), and Spicebush, a savory berry like pepper.
Russ brought along Shag Bark Hickory nuts for us to sample after the walk, as they’re not in season just yet. They look like pecans and they were absolutely delicious. We also sampled Birch bark tea. It smelled like birch beer soda that I used to enjoy, although without the fizz.
There is a veritable feast just waiting for you right outside your door (as long as you don’t use herbicides or pesticides) as nearly everyone has Dandelion, Dock and Plantain happily growing in their front yard, acorns on their lawn and if you’re lucky, Hickory nuts littering your (or a neighbor’s) driveway.
On the ride home, we stopped at a field where it’s okay to pick a few “weeds” and I hopped out of the truck to snip about a dozen stalks of Mugwort. I do use dried Mugwort in my herbal skin care concoctions, but these are for making Mugwort smudge sticks.
The stalks are currently in a bucket of water awaiting another restful moment when I can sit quietly on the front porch steps amid the chickadees, chipmunks and squirrels, and methodically bunch and wrap the herb while my mind skitters off up into the treetops on the wings of the enchanting birdsong. I wish for you the same opportunity to steal away from all the noise in your life and indulge in something to soothe your own weary soul. You’re worth it, my friend! Go out and play!
*P.S. If you’re interested in Russ Cohen’s book, Wild Plants I have Known and Eaten, it’s available through The Essex County Greenbelt Association. Russ directs all of the proceeds from the sale of the book to this nonprofit land trust.
Another foraging book that I personally own and recommend is Rosalee De La Foret’s book, Wild Remedies. Rosalee is a clinical herbalist, teacher and author. She also has a podcast, Herbs With Rosalee, which I listen to on Apple podcasts.
Thank you for stopping by the blog! My name is Carol and I'm a metalsmith and fiber artist who makes amulets and talismans. You can find my work at Willowsongstudio.com