Last Friday I got a request from my wild food chef, Tina Gross. She emailed me to ask if I could harvest her some Burdock Root, Yellow Dock leaves and/or Mustard- there are a few recipes she wants to try. That morning I had awakened to a lot of stresses- the usual stresses of being a self-employed I-do-it-all-around-here person, plus some additional stresses. Contractor issues, utility problems… and some emotional stress as I step into a new (and scary) area of self-growth. So, the request to stop and dig roots this day was less than welcome. Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Tina and would do anything for her. It felt though, like another task on my already full plate. But off I went, with shovel and bucket…
Burdock Roots (Articum lappa) should be dug in the Fall or Spring from first year plants. The plant is a biennial, and focuses its first year on the root system. By the second year, the energy goes into making tall stalk and seeds… those annoying brown stalks with burrs that stick stronger than Velcro in your hair, clothes, shoelaces. Look for those brown stalks- because around them you will find the first year Burdock. Those plants without stalks are likely first year plants. Although not always- Nature does not exist for our convenience. Dock leaves(Rumex spp) and Mustard (Brassica spp) are growing sweet tender leaves this time of year. Choose from the most tender, brightly colored leaves. Nibble the edges of a few to test for bitterness. Often the smaller leaves will be more tasty, but not always.
The wind was blowing my hair into my eyes, and the leaves were winding around my feet as I walked into the field. Beneath the Velcro-burr stalks I found the first year plants, leaves yellowing and lying close to the ground. I began to dig, the ground soft from recent rain. The Autumn sun was warm on my back. The scent of sweet Earth hit my nose as I knelt on the cool ground. The brown stalks of Yellow Dock, Goldenrod and Burdock caught my wind-blown hair in their dry fingers. They tug my hair gently… lovers welcoming me back home.
As I wandered and dug more sweet roots, the knot that I did not realize I held in my belly began to loosen. Serpentine, unfolding slowly up my spine, releasing finally in salty tears. No sobbing, no wailing… just a soft, warm trickle of tears down my face, dripping off my chin to land, chilled by the breeze, onto my neck.
Smiling now, brow unfurrowed, jaw soft, I finish my plant harvest. What began as chore is now sweet reward, and I linger. I stop by the chicken coop, the young hens shiny, noisy and pleased to see me. More abundance in their deep straw nests- pink hued eggs. I add these to my bucket and head back.
Thank you, Earth, for your constant and unselfish abundance. You feed me. And thanks Tina, for getting me outside this day.
Each year I teach several Wild Food Intensives, where we learn to identify, harvest and cook wild plant foods. These weekends are a total immersion into Nature. We eat wild foods, we camp, we sit and cook around a fire. Come remember who you really are. ALL are welcome, we are a community of sweet diversity.
2014 dates: April 26, July 19, Oct 11. Held at the North American Bushcraft School in Hedgesville WV. www.northamericanbushcraftschool.com Visit www.divine-journeys.com for more information. See you there~