My brother, sister and I would tromp through the field picking the youngest dandelion greens or nettles. Chokecherries, blueberries, apples, raspberries and even wintergreen were all on my parent’s harvest list. Jams, jellies, butters, pickles, relishes and wines were ways in which we preserved these foods in addition to enjoying them fresh. Of course, hunting and fishing proved as prolific as our herbivorous harvesting. And all of this wild harvesting was as important as our homegrown beef, chicken, pork and vegetables. Sitting down to every meal, we proudly looked around and noted all of the delicious foods we poured our heart and soul into raising, gathering, preserving and preparing. This feeling of self satisfaction is one that I will never forget. However, it wasn’t always this good…
On one occasion my father decided he wanted us to pick milkweed pods to be steamed for dinner. The three of us groaned as we begrudgingly dragged ourselves outside to pick whatever pods were closest to our hands. No one ever told us that only the young, tightly closed, tiny pods were the ones to pick. Suffice it to say, after swishing around the stringy, silky, nearly-blooming, over cooked pods, we were all (father included) very ill at the thought of ever eating them again!
As much of a debacle as the milkweed pod incident was, I thank my father for the desire to learn more about the outdoor world and to develop my knowledge of how to live in it.
It was he who fostered the idea of gently caring for this world so that it may in turn care for me. And it is he who I credit for my awareness and ability to honor and respect this delicate balance that is far too often overlooked and sneered at in detest by the lurking developers of our modern world. Salvaging whatever dignity and grace this world so newly introduced to me had would be my quest; if only for my tiny existence.