Very often I head out to harvest or forage and though my heart is full my rucksack remains empty. On the occasions I do return with a bountiful harvest I am filled with such a sense of bliss and gratitude. Sticky sweet fingers drenched in the juice of wild berries and my senses saturated from the nibbling, tasting, sniffing and touching as I wander the places I am most at ease. A pack filled to the brim without any indication that the wild plants have been harvested, humbled by the abundance and generosity of the natural world.
Wildcrafting for me, is more about connection than anything else, connection with the places I watch, and the stands I tend. Harvesting in an area that I have gratefully called home for all of my life has allowed me to deeply root and connect to the mountains filled with fir and cedar, foothills covered in aromatic sage and deserts brilliant with the shocking red blooms of ocotillo and bright yellow flowered chaparral. Familiarity with the cycles of the seasons, moons and plants offers a depth of appreciation for the uniqueness of each place I visit.
The unique smells of each season provides the perfect guidance. Moving out of the intensity of summer into the shadowed subtleties of fall. The perfume of the last few rose petals wafting through the brisk morning air, signaling the rosehips arrival. The scent of the rotten apples, below the one feral tree indicating their peak has passed. One tiny wild strawberry, the very last, a delicate fragrant gift with a sweetness unlike any other.
I am so grateful for these places, the spots where time doesn't matter. Sitting on a granite slab under an ancient oak becomes the only priority. These moments are so healing and necessary on a deep, primal level. The chances to reconnect to my roots, my beginnings and to ultimately, my end. These are the places where my creativity flows, the ideas for new crafts to connect folks with these sacred plants and spaces.
I will spend the next several days in communion with these plant gifts. The douglas fir will be infused into oil for magical creations like “wildling” and distilled into aromatic hydrosol for an energy clearing mist. The cedar is destined for the still as well. The branches soak for a day to allow them to sofen and release their aromatics. Incense cedar will be back in stock soon! The chokecherries will create a beautiful cordial just in time for the cold winter months. The gorgeous elderberries are going to be an immune boosting syrup, to which I will add some of the rosehips and perhaps hawthorn as well. Any bits and pieces left, the fir needles, a few leaves of mugwort, some rosehips, a couple turkey tails, will all be fermented into a probiotic forresty brew.
For all of you who support what I do, I thank you. I encourage you to find your own sacred spaces and sacred plants to connect with. It is remarkable what can be heard in moments of silence with an open heart.