a. turning leaves
b. decaying berries
c. homemade jelly from foraged apples
d. 12.5 pounds of foraged acorns
e. processing acorns step 2 of 5
f. acorn bread
Connecting with nature has always been vital to my existence. I need it to thrive. I spent a lot of time alone in the woods as a child. It was the place where I felt most at home. Peaceful. Seen. Loved. A part of something greater than myself. I’ve lived in Boston, spent a lot of time in New York City, loving the aliveness, culture, diversity and possibility. But I kept coming back to the quiet, simple beauty and magnificence of nature. And one day, my husband and I built our home in the middle of the woods in Maine.
Living in the woods has allowed me to discover parts of myself that have lain dormant. For the past 18 years, since we made the move from Boston to rural Maine, I’ve developed a love for flower and vegetable gardening and have spent much time exploring the woods, rivers and fields around my home. My photography is a direct reflection of the natural beauty I have witnessed and experienced season after season. Over time, this practice of noticing, observing and appreciating the natural environment around me has helped bring me into a more natural state of being; one where I feel a part of nature and the natural cycle of life. I now need less. And I am grateful for so much more. It makes sense that I have been developing a love of foraging and herbalism, and fortunately these interests are aligning nicely with my photography and my study of Reiki.
Why is foraging important to me? The reasons are multi-layered, and for me, it’s an essential part of being human. Foraging gets me out in nature, exploring, going on adventures, exercising, feeling my breath. Getting the blood flowing, the body moving. It’s magical to be out in the forest amongst the trees and wildlife. There really is something out there. It’s big. It’s beautiful. The atmosphere sparkles all around and I let it in. I become a part of it. That’s transformative.
The process of foraging for food and “medicine” is pleasurable, like going on a treasure hunt, and when I find something; oh what a high! I’ll liken it to being a kid in a candy store. The new tastes are exciting and rewarding. I clearly have an innate passion for it. I study about wild edibles and herbalism. Have my nose in a book from my ever-growing collection. Make notes. Take workshops. I dream about it. When I wake, I can’t wait to get outside and do it. I want to know where food comes from and be a part of the process as opposed to a disconnected consumer. I want to know what’s edible and what’s not, and I want to find food to nourish myself and my family; healthy, natural, wild food packed with the vitamins and nutrients that have been lost due to modern-day farming practices. I want an alternative to the store-bought so-called food that is filled with chemicals and pesticides. I want more choice in edibles; not just the limited variety of what is available in the grocery store. I like the idea of radical home-ec, becoming independent, experimenting with the art of wildcrafted cuisine — combining foraged ingredients to make creative, flavorful dishes that you would never find in the mainstream (like my wholesome Blossom Muffins above, filled with edible foraged flora from my property). I want to save money and I’m tired of paying an arm and a leg for organic food that won’t poison me and my family. I’m appalled by ‘food fraud’ — where some store-bought food is labeled organic even when it’s not. I’m losing trust here and I’m driven to buy local as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong. I support organic farming, for years have had a CSA with a local organic farmer, grow and tend home gardens, and buy organic at the grocery store. Foraging is in addition to these things, and hopefully will become an even greater portion of our diet as I learn more about this art.
I am not alone in this endeavor. There is a Universal energy at play here. The stigma over foraging and herbalism is dissolving for so many of us who are fed up with the ills of a money-driven, consumerist society that does not have our health or best interests at heart. We are going back to our roots. I am drawn to the re-wilding movement, where folks are striving to return to a more natural state of being; hunting and gathering what is available around our homes (even in urban environments), knowing the wise ways of plant medicine for maintaining and restoring health, putting up food for the winter, and getting in touch with and preserving something innately human that is becoming lost in this modern world. Not to mention it’s great exercise, endorphin-generating, and keeps me strong, young and happy as I age.
I hope you will en-joy this muffin recipe (substitute any edible blossoms that you like). I’ll be posting more wild edible photos and recipes soon. You can also find more on this subject at my daily-life Instagram account, @drawn.to.the.river.
Would you like to know how to achieve optimum image quality with your smartphone? I’ll show you how in the current Fall issue of Somerset Digital Studio magazine, available in popular book stores and craft stores, or online at Stampington & Company. Included in the article is a variety of stellar mobile art created by talented artists, including members of my latest online course, Mobile Art Mastery. Heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Lorenka Campos (@lorenka on Instagram), David Hayes (@clearerreflections on IG), Alexis Rotella, and Nathalie Beaurain (@nattysxm on IG) for their breathtaking features! Also, a shout-out to my dear, talented friend and online course partner Sebastian Michaels, for his inspiring and informative article in this same publication. And congratulations to so many friends, whose art graces the pages as well!