Wow! It has been six weeks.
I watched, with amusement, this evening as a chipmunk enjoyed some of the scrap I gave to the chickens. The irony was not lost on me ... I am trying to learn to find food in the wild, while he was learning to find food away from his nature environment. He lives, everyday, in the wild, eating, breathing, living. I live, everyday, in an artificial, alien place, which attempts to convince me that the natural world is there to be exploited, reviled, and abhorred. Silly really. I guess we are both just looking to find a way to be at peace with out lots in life.
Wendy and I have been following along with the challenge. Week 5 was a little sparse. We have a decided lack of skill in the time between greens and berries. I am sure there is plenty to eat, and we could have gone out for more periwinkles, but we did not. Instead, we stretched out skills a bit and foraged flowers. There were many options ... milkweed, clover, rose, etc. We also took advantage of a gray area - abandoned plants, which took the form of a massive grapevine that has been feral for several years. With these, Wendy whipped up a nice flower soup with a butter base and some stuffed grape leaves (stuffed with flowers). And, thankfully, we were given an 18" pickerel, which I learned to clean (it was significantly less work than cleaning a rabbit).
There was only one meal, but it left us satisfied.
This week, I was concerned. Wendy is away with the girls. I was left to my own devices. Saturday, I took a stroll with the dogs to an area I haven't visited for a few years. I knew that I had learned a lot and wanted to see what I had missed in earlier visits. All I can say is ... Yee Haw!
I took the dogs, who were a significant impediment, but I still succeeded. We walked for a couple of hours. In that time, I marked, with the GPS, several more Hazelnut bushes. I also spied a fresh mushroom growing near some old one on a broken off tree (which I misidentified). I was fairly certain that I knew what they were and so I picked them.
In "Browsing Nature's Aisles", we emphasize using at least sources for identification of things you do not know well. I was able to search the internet and find pictures (resource 1), I looked through a mushroom book (resource 2), I posted a photo on a Facebook Mushroom group local to my area (resource 3), and I used an on-line identification key (resource 4 - BONUS) to verify that it was indeed an Oyster Mushroom (Pleutorus populinus)!
And, in addition, I found a new blueberry patch with newly ripening fruit. Of course, the dogs were done and I didn't have a container for berries. I returned on Sunday in the morning without the dogs, who seemed relieved to be able to stay home instead of accompanying me. In a short time, I picked 1.5 pints of lovely blueberries. for my meals. I was a little concerned that this would not be sufficient to squelch my hunger.
Sunday was a very busy day. I am acting in a local production of "The Full Monty" and we were running the technical aspects of the show prior to the opening this week. It meant that I would be out of the house for 9 hours or so ... no time to find more food.
It turned out that the mushrooms, sauteed in butter and garlic and a pint of blueberries were enough for the day. I still have half a pint in the fridge.
Even in the face of everyday problems, like a roof that needs repairs and more bills than money, I am in awe of the abundance that the Universe offers - the gifts, the lessons, the love. Oh, as is my custom, I asked for a message or lesson while I was out. The response was a pair of hawks swooping into a nearby tree, calling to each other, playing in the branches. They allowed me to see them before darting away again, leaving me grinning.
It is officially berry season. Foraging Sundays have just gotten a lot easier. I am still trying to learn to fish for myself, but I know now that I will eat.
With gratitude and love, I continue to learn and grow.