Urban Foraging 101: Expect The Unexpected & Drink In The View

My favorite single corner on my daily commute, when it comes to “visual” foraging would seem an odd choice.  The little strip of disturbed ground at the corner of Poplar and Mendenhall where my work-a-day bus lets me out is ridiculously fertile ground for late winter/early spring greens, all things considered.

I counted six plant allies growing in riotous profusion between Poplar and the tracks, with perhaps the highest concentration by the corner.

I saw curly dock, plantain, chickweed, cleavers, vetch, and dandelion.

Ides of March, 15 Mar 05

The Armchair Herbalist

Something to note: retail doesn’t do it anymore. Not that I mind doing it so much as entertaining myself in book or retail stores has lost its appeal.

Time’s a-ticking, as they say. I am a herbalist but all too often, of the haphazard, armchair variety. And yet there is appeal in this life for me. Where I feel I fall short is in quality use of my time. What if I could not use my laptop for a week? What more could I accomplish?

And yet, my interest is not just in healing so much as in traditional culinary, literary, cultural, and brewing use of plants. Of what value is it to society? Of what value to me?

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Where I came from

In the suburbs again — at Chris’s parents’ house for their Father’s Day wing-ding.

My life with plants is a strange one, indeed.  How is it that seeing the familiar rust-red plumes atop sumac shrubs can excite me so?  What would it be like to have no clue of the significance of my delighted exclamation, “We’re is Sumac country!”  (I suspect most people would sympathize with Chris’s puzzled answer: “Poison sumac?”)

I always aspire to learn more and more about wild plants and their cultivated cousins.  Yet, I know quite a bit already, if you want to know the truth.  One can always learn more and more, but I am not without knowledge as it is.

How do I focus among the vast fields of knowledge of which I can avail myself?

Well, I don’t want to be a botanist or a taxonomist for their own sake.  Identification is crucial, but I only need so much knowledge of identification to know an edible, medicinal, or ethnobotanically significant plant when I see one.  I must learn proper identification for safety’s sake, but beyond that, I’ll leave botany and taxonomy to the experts.

Yet, in the six years since I wrote that, I have come to believe differently.  Identification is so crucial — and the lack of understanding of the subtle differences between varieties of plants has probably contributed to society being where it is now.   Read the rest of this entry »

The Reconnection

It’s been years since my heart opened up and I could connect to the plants.  In fact, the last time I wrote seriously was also the last time I could connect – and that was when the River Spirit Faeries were still involved in the sanctuary project at the building on Rozelle.  Each business circle we had as a group (and we met weekly for 1-2 years) I took copious notes (minutes) for the group.  In addition, I journaled almost compulsively, regularly wrote plant-spirit and herbal nutrition articles for the River Spirit newsletter, and the like.
At that time, I recall that I was very into the idea that herbs were more than condiments, they were both medicine and critical nutrition as well.  I subscribed (and to a certain extent still do) to the idea that the traditional herbal systems that promote the Five Flavors, the energetics (warm, cool, hot, cold), the Four (or Five) Elements, etc., really could be integrated into modern nutritional paradigms without compromising either philosophy too much.   Read the rest of this entry »