Each year I set the intention to gather specific plants, and each year I miss some. Miss their gathering time.
That’s one of the frustrations of foraging.
With so many plants out there, sometimes there isn’t enough time to gather them all when they are at their best.
Yet out of this frustration comes forth a delight. You’ve got to love paradox.
The realisation that I may have missed the best time to harvest the plant.
It is an excellent lesson in patience and becoming present in each moment.
Realising I must wait another year to gather the plant’s bounty again makes me chuckle.
How different from the way our culture relates to food?
If you forget something from the shop, you can always go back. And the forgotten item will be on display, even if it is not in season.
Foraging has taught me many life lessons. It goes way beyond putting food on the table and is instead a lesson in living.
I love how nature is such a wise teacher.
This week, I want to encourage you to step outside and find a plant that is starting to grow.
Trees are usually good now.
I want you to take notice of this plant every time you walk past it.
Watch it through its lifecycle.
What do you notice?
Try picking it at different stages. Then open a notebook and start recording its taste, texture, and anything else that you notice.
Is there a specific time when its flavour comes into its own?
I had that happen to me last week.
I was walking back with my wife at 11.30 at night when the most exquisite smell hit me.
I stopped, then walked backwards, trying to identify which plant it was.
Lo’ and behold, I realised this divine smell was coming from a Mahonia.
I had never smelt it like this before.
So my wife and I pushed our faces as far into the yellow flowers as possible. Avoiding, the holly-like leaves. Then breathed in lungfuls of ecstasy.
I’ve nick-named Mahonia; Angels Breath.
Try tasting the flowers in January.
Think sherbet. First, you experience sweet honey nectar and then a delicious lemony tang.
I ponder what I can do with them beyond popping them into my mouth.
If you have experimented with Mahonia flowers, why not let me know?
I’d love to hear what you’ve done with them.
Until next time.