A Foraging Fool
By Jeannette Antonelli
Just imagine if you will, my excitement of beginning my foraging journey 2019. I live in Western PA, the land that invites a polar vortex and crave warmer weather to explore my mini universe of plants growing and flourishing. I have big plans for my yard. For many years I have been a part of a Facebook group called Grow Food no Lawns and it has changed my mind on how to best use my yard. I have been planning my garden since last summer. My design will offer not only a plethora of useful herbs, but it will be gorgeous. I never considered myself a gardener, but my strengths are improving. I have a trail close by for which I aim to visit far more frequently, as of my most recent birthday I am the new proud owner of a foraging bag, scissors and other useful tools, I got a book on plant identification, all I need is my big floppy hat, sunscreen (the chemical free and organic kind) and good shoes.
Having grown up a gallivanter, I had freedom to roam about for hours at a time, no restrictions. Seriously! I was the kid who trotted about in bare feet, I remember once as a little girl of maybe 10 years old I showed up at a friend’s house to play and was sent away, I had no shoes on. It’s funny how some things stick as memories. I feel that this foraging expedition will bring that young girl out in me. Unless I’m in my own yard, I won’t be barefoot while identifying and wildcrafting plans. But just to think, while that young girl of my past ran around forgoing protective footwear, I was drawing the energies from the earth, thereby connecting (unknowingly) to my instinctive nature.
I read through my foraging book, there are pictures and ways to identify the plants, how useful. My plan is to take this book on my hikes with me to be doubly sure of my plants. I recall receiving pictures from my husband as he was out hunting, he sent pictures of mushrooms growing from trees, stumps and ground. Other plants were still present but keep in mind that the temperatures were in the 30’s or lower on days. My delight just soared, I can not wait to get out and get to seeing what grows in my neck of the woods. I expect I’ll wish to bring some plants home with me, but I’ll find great joy in just identifying plants. Since beginning my herbal course, I have learned all the great plants I have in my own yard. I didn’t know a Hosta was edible, or what Chickweed looks like, and Purslane, what a treat. I intentionally grow Mint, Blueberries, Grapes, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, and who could ever dare to forget to the misunderstood and wrongfully accused Dandelion? I can see it now, I’ll be the talk of the neighbors, out in my yard, purposely picking dandelions from the center of my yard. Since our geographical challenges prevent me wildcrafting and enjoying the fruits of the earth, I’ll just have to continue to plan my garden and find great locations for foraging, happy trails.
Zachos, Ellen. Backyard Foraging. Storey Publishing. 2013 p.41, 45, 65
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