Gathering with Intention

Wild fruits and nuts are ripening all over the landscape.  As I walk and bike around town, I've been making note of developing Autumn-olive fruit, Blackberries, Black Raspberries, Black Walnuts, Blueberries and Mulberries.

I inevitably check the same spots each year to see how things have changed.  While typically the changes are subtle, I occasionally find previously wild and deliciously bountiful places that have been freshly scarred by construction equipment, sprayed with herbicides, or even covered in pavement.  If those responsible for the damages knew of the gifts of these places, perhaps they would choose different actions.

In the book The Island Within, Richard Manning speaks to the issue of recklessly interacting with the wild:

"On several occasions, I've seen people harvest huckleberries by breaking off branches and stripping them clean.  If society judged this a crime, the offenders could be sentenced to pick berries from the same bushes each season for several years.  This principle could also be applied in other cases where nature is exploited with little mind for the future.  I wonder, for example, if a person required to live in one patch of woods -- taking food and shelter from it, becoming familiar with every tree, interacting daily with the animals who also live there -- could then bear to see this woods, or any other, leveled by clearcutting." (p. 192)

While I don't subsist on wild foods alone, I value highly their place in my life, and as such I do my best to ensure that my harvesting techniques contribute to the health of my local landscape.  Slowing down, expressing gratitude, and gathering with the future in mind all seem like positive strategies to me.

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