The Wolf Who Unpacked Autumn
It was our 3-day wild food’s discovery expedition, late September, held in a wilderness sanctuary called, Wild Magnolia. This year’s drought, a tree-killing drought, the worst in Arkansas history, caused me to cancel all the late summer workshops. Who wants to tromp around frizzled skeletons! Besides, I was in transition – like so many others. (Partly why you haven’t heard from me).
Then the rains came (and went), enough to give the plants a second life…indeed, many flowered again and we saw bloom on early summer bloomers. So, we’d gather for one more outing before winter. This time, at my new home in the wilderness around the Buffalo River National Forest. A thanks-giving celebration.
Learning about wild foods means learning a thing or two about botany and the intricacies of plant identification. So Friday would focus on botany and how to use plant keys. But first things first – direct communication with the plants themselves. As Westerners, we need the blessing of science in order to believe a thing possible, so the science supporting inter-species communication was laid out before their first exercise – find a flowering plant, set your intention to learn from it and silently perceive what happens. Notice any feelings, including physical sensations. What does the plant have to say about itself? And how it may help you? Then (later, with the group) come back with the keys to find its name.
So it began, each found a plant eager to tell its story. Some were stories of fearlessness, one opened a portal to its energy field and embraced a skeptic. The class worked together with their keys, discussing why it might be one plant instead of another until they came to agreement enough for my confirmation.
The day closed with a dinner of wild mustard greens, immature grass seed heads, wild ginger, sesame stir-fry on rice and a tempura of plantain stalks and perilla leaf. One member had joined us on the grounds that I’d tell my story of living alone in the wilderness so, sharing a bottle of wine around the campfire , I took them back.
The woods shimmered in the pleasure of having been recognized on its own terms…heart to heart. George Washington Carver said, “Anything will reveal its secrets if you love it enough.” And we did. So we shouldn’t have been surprised when a wolf appeared in camp the next morning to wake us up. He stood at the edge and let forth with 5 sonorous notes, more of a song than a “howl” …each note hung like a bell in the sky. Wild food for the soul.