I vividly remember the happiness and joy I experienced lying in glades of bluebells, the sun streaming down through the green leaves of trees that towered above me, deer only a few feet away.
Nature was my playground, and my very conservative mother would continually chastise me for having mud encrusted trousers with knees and backside caked in the deep smell of earth and humus, green stained and grinning like the scallywag that I was.
At school I would run off with my friends across the farmers fields, pick wild berries and nibbly things, and on frosty Autumnal days gorge ourselves on Sweet Chestnuts. And so my love of the land deepened without even realising it, and all the growing, flying, slithering, crawling and walking things on it were seen as friends rather than something to fear. Earth was good, dirt was good.
When I was 19 I moved to North Devon, and discovered land even more wild than that which I knew as a child. I suddenly found myself amongst people who had vast knowledge of crafts, art and country-ways. I was befriended by a couple who would take me out on lazy days and show me the hedgerow larder that was right in front of my eyes.
We feasted on many wild edible plants, including fresh fish caught from the sea only 2 miles away. Good fellowship and good eating.
Circumstances required me to eventually leave, and I entered the world of cities, concrete and steel. I never totally lost my feel for the land, but the responsibility of bringing up a small child meant that my focus went elsewhere, and into earning a living.
Twelve years ago I returned to Devon with my beautiful family, and once again the call of the wild beckoned me, and so I forage, and feast on local food, my wife bartering a few hours work in exchange for our weekly organic vegetable box.
And every day I walk the land and take from it what she chooses to give me, continually learning the ancient art of the forager.
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