I am a forager.
As I whiz down the highway (I’m not telling how fast) I want to stop every time I see the flat, white umbels of elderflowers or the rich, red cones of sumac berries. The saturated yellow of cattail pollen makes me swerve to the shoulder and pull out my waterproof boots.
God forbid I should spot a chicken of the woods mushroom as I drive – that’s what we call a 60 mph mushroom because the brilliant orange color stands out, even at high speeds.
Of course, I can’t always stop to forage. Life has other requirements, and sometimes getting to the dentist on time has to take priority. But I always want to stop. I am pulled, drawn, filled with desire; and given the slightest encouragement and a little bit of free time, I will succumb.
When the season for some wonderful wild food is drawing to a close, my greediness kicks into high gear. “But this is my last chance to harvest Juneberries,” I rationalize, as I search for a place to make a U-turn. I want as much as I can get, because they’re delicious and rare and you can’t buy them anywhere. I want.
Which doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to share. I share a lot. All you have to do is express an interest and I will feed you all sorts of things you never knew you could eat. I will also ply you with drink. Drink made from foraged foods and probably some alcohol. I will even take you to some of my special places, although perhaps not the mushroom places…at least not until we know each other a little better.
I want to get you hooked on wild edibles so maybe next time you’ll be sitting in that car with me when I pull over to harvest burdock flower stems. Because so much of the joy of foraging is sharing it with someone who also appreciates the flavors and the adventure.
I am a forager. I can be greedy, but also generous. Are you hungry?