Monday, July 21, 2008

unto the least of these

All summer I'd been watching them grow. As soon as I knew what they were, I mentioned them to my boss, hoping she wouldn't bush hog them down. Other people at the barn said that field, the back field, the big hilly one with both a pond and a cave in it, almost never got hogged and I needn't worry.

But today when I walked out the back of the barn, I saw immediately. They were gone. I felt like throwing up, honestly, and I think I did cry just a tear or two. There was a hole in my soul for the loss. It played over and over in my head all day.

Elderberries. Just that. Elderberries.

And frankly, if I had them in my pasture, I wouldn't want them there either. A pasture is supposed to be pasture, to grow grass and clover and the like, but if it isn't mowed/grazed or if it is overgrazed (which this is), then other things start happening. Annual weeds, then tougher perennial weeds, then things like elderberries and blackberries, then trees. Elderberries and blackberries are reclaiming plants. If you want to find them, look for disturbed soil, or clearcuts, or abandoned pastures. But don't wait too long -- the best wild blackberries fields are only good for around 5 years and then the trees will shade them out.

I'm just saying I know why he cut them. But I'm also saying that I wouldn't have done it. Food is holy.

People are so disconnected from their food. From everything really. From each other, from birth, from death, from what sustains them, what sustains them really. So disconnected that they can cut down what in a month's time would be food, and they can do it without a thought, and even if you said to them, "this is food," it wouldn't have mattered, except if he'd known I wanted the berries, then I believe he would have spared them for me.

But he wouldn't have spared them for food. And I don't believe he was even slightly aware of their existence. And this is the way it is -- there are it may be so many voices in the world and none without signification is what the Bible says of it. There are so many entire worlds out there and, says I, the oil world has obliterated all knowledge of them. Not solely oil, there have always been the more aware and the less aware among us. But do you reckon Nero was as unaware of where his food came from?

We have scoped out several other elderberry places so all elderberries are not lost for the year. Used to my paternal family reunion was held the third Sunday of August and on the way home from that the elderberries were always ripe and we'd stop in the wide spots in the road and pick them. Maybe a bird will plant some on some ground here for me.

If you've never read the introduction to Tom Brown's Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants, do. When you can feel this way for the blade of grass . . . .


Brenda Jean said...

I think you are right in that people don't even realize what is around them, and for the most part they don't "observe". I would have been upset too.

I'm glad I found your blog, I love your thinking:)

Wendy said...

Ah! Wild food! We just picked buckets and buckets of wild, Maine blueberries. These are the ones that are low growing - and tiny - and so sweet! Every single berry, from the tiniest little orb to the largest had the most perfect flavor and texture. The cultivated ones just aren't the same, and I never realized that until this afternoon while picking in the rain. It was the most incredible thing - all of those bushes just stretching as far as I could see just full of those lovely, sweet berries. I wondered at how there could be so many, and why more people weren't out there reaping what Mother Nature offered ... for free!

Makes me wonder at how people can complain when I see free food all over the place, just there, and no one taking it.

CG said...

I have said before that people will starve to death sitting at the drive through window.

And again I'd say, I don't blame him. He's keeping his pastures. There is no such thing as no impact. But to be aware . . .

Anonymous said...

i agree people are FAR to removed from the things they consume. i recently went to a sight called" earthlings" and as a result until im able to raise my own meat im a son and my niece saw this hour long documentary and as a result feel the same way i do. as a child i lived on a farm. the only thing we ever went to the store for was " dry goods" lol. meal flour and sugar. our animals we used for food were hand fed raised and left to be as they were meant to be until we NEEDED them. and then the slaughter was as quick and painless as we could make it. blessings were said and thanks was given. and it hurt for we knew this animal.but we also knew it was a part of our wheel of life at that time.none of the animal was wasted. my family is christian but they still recognized their ties with the things around them. i cant remember ever being anything but pagan. all the same im glad they taught me the value of life and the value of working for your food in actuality.

CG said...

ok, but what I'm saying is that a carrot is no different. There isn't something holy or different about an animal. Vegetarianism (and even moreso vegan-ism) is a modern luxury convenience, just as much (especially with oranges in June) as flown in fresh Alaskan salmon, or yak or something. Being really truly aware of food is to have a relationship with it. One step is to get beyond doritos as a food group, but getting beyond CAFO meat being the end all be all bad guy is on that ladder too.

I'm not a purist myself, I don't hold myself to an impossible standard, but I think about all of it and what it means. And just through the constant movement of life on the farm, the absolute majority of our meals are 100% homegrown now. That's why movement, and having a direction, a dream, goals, is so important. Otherwise folks flounder.