I am for you

wild and free – day four

garlic mustard, highly invasive and just plain yucky!

Yesterday, I was feeling quite a bit more of a human, and had enough energy to go out twice. Bright and early, I headed out to do some trashpicking (a more modern version of foraging, I guess) and found some wonderful structures for a garden I’ve helping create down at the awesome and unique Sprouts space down the hill from me. I found a large bamboo papasan chair seat and a small wire garden fence to provide a little bit of protection for the plants, as the space tends to be full of all kinds of humans, and even more piles of bikes in various condition, along with other random geek cruft, and both piles and people tend to end up sprawling all over the place, including into the garden space. So I brought my freshly picked structures down and installed them, and did some more garden work and socializing before heading back to where I’m staying for some rest before the afternoon’s work. All the way down to the garden and back I was nibbling on more dandelion flowers and greens, and violets, and Japanese knotweed shoots, which just popped up over the past couple of days. The inside of the stem of the very young knotweed (which people often confuse with bamboo) is very edible and tastes a lot like rhubarb, making it a very delicious addition to my diet, and I’m hoping to find somewhere with more of it coming up, as it takes a lot of the stuff to make much of a snack, since the shoots are pretty small to begin with, and even smaller once you peel the bitter skin off.

Then in the evening, I lugged more structural garden stuff I’d made, a small trellis out of trashpicked wood and a small geodesic dome I’d made out of trashpicked hose, and some seedlings, and some pretty copper wire for making decorations with, and went down for more gardening as well as their monthly community art performance. (Which, this month, delightfully happened to feature a group my awol husband is in, and I got the pleasure of offering him a very small but meaningful and joyful gift.) And while others were enjoying their community spaghetti dinner offered by the grou Food Not Bombs, I ate some of the “weeds” from the garden, and shared my story of this wild and free week with the very friendly folks sitting at the table with me. One of them asked me if there was any wild food I’d tasted and just couldn’t eat, and I immediately replied “Garlic Mustard!” which was just too much for me to eat fresh. Though it might be ok dried and used as a seasoning on something really bland, but having so many wild chives available right now, it’s not really worth it, since I really love the chives. Garlic mustard is a close relative to other wild mustards, which are definitely more tasty, this one just doesn’t cut it, in my opinion.

And then, after a gardening, art, activism, and husband filled night, I made my way slowly up the hill with my bike and trailer. I ended the night happy and exhausted and starving. So for a midnight snack, I had a few bites of a sunchoke. I’d have eaten more, but tooth issues turned eating such a crunchy creature into a very long process, and I really just wanted to sleep.

And now, this morning is sunny and beautiful and promises to be a good day for some exploring in a different part of my city, as I have to go to the Somerville library, to pick up the book Wild Foods I Have Known and Eaten, by Russ Cohen, a guy who lives in the next town over from Somerville, who I’m hoping to get a short interview with soon, if we can agree on a communication form (he likes phones, and I don’t have one :-) So I’m planning on checking out the parks and some wooded areas over by Somerville’s most exciting historical monument, the Prospect Hill tower (a cool castle-like thing built in honor of the fort that was on the hill during the Revolutionary War). And I’m hoping to do a little research into tapping maple trees for sap, to see if it’s even worth doing now, since it’s suddenly so unseasonably warm. I was fortunate to have a very cool neighbor who happened to have a tap and bucket kit that she wasn’t using and kindly loaned to me, so I do hope the tree is willing to share at least a small amount of it’s sweet water with me, to gustatorily liven up my week.

It’s definitely been a very meaningful and fun learning adventure so far, and I’m happy that it’s still continuing, because I still have so much to learn and try!



  moonraven222 wrote @

It sounds like you are having quite the week. I admire your adventurous spirit. I’d love to learn how to forage at some point–I just have too many things on my plate right now (no pun intended). I am sorry that some of it has been spoiled by tooth issues. It does seem like you haven’t let that stop you–yay for you.

The garden you are helping to create at Sprout also seems like a really cool thing–a nice combination of a growing food (a great thing all to itself) at a place that does good work in the world.

Congrats on doing so much good work!

  all good meals are wild and free! « Turil wrote @

[…] Wild and Free – Day Four […]

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