GET OUT: Foraging fatigue

By on June 2, 2015

How to avoid, or enjoy, an outing


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Throughout the valley, locals  this time of year seem to be raging about wild foraging. Some prefer the brain-like mushrooms known as morels, while others love nettles, fiddleheads and other various greens and roots that can be eaten or processed for medicinal tinctures. These delicacies are valid things to love. One cup of morels provides 33 percent of a day’s dietary requirement of vitamin D. Nettles and other greens offer much needed iron, zinc and other nutrients.

Foraging in this area has blown up in the past couple of years. From blog posts to grocery store conversations, you’d think people had rediscovered the wheel through their free collecting of natural resources.  Morels seem to be replacing beanies and baggy pants as the new hip thing while wild ferns have taken the place of kale on kitchen tables.

While informative articles have covered how to find, forage and pick native plants, none chose to establish the fact that not everyone enjoys harvesting. What do you do when you continue to get dragged into morel picking and, frankly, no longer enjoy it? Yes, I said it. Some people simply don’t like mushrooms at all. Others have picked their fill and want to move to other spring activities. I have heard many complaints from children, girlfriends, husbands and friends stating that they are over this season of abundance. But you can still have a great day while going out with a plant hunter without actually gathering.

Plan A: Starve your foraging companion. If you are with someone who often drifts into the timeless realm of collecting things in the wild, plan ahead. While for many, planning ahead entails packing provisions, proper planning to the non-forager may include minimal food to ensure a short venture. Eventually, the passionate picker will long for food, despite the abundance of the harvest. If you pack minimal snacks, he will be less likely to want to continue on for 12-plus hours. Additionally, water is another consideration. If you are the partner in crime, bring your own water and do not share. Sharing will prolong the excursion.

Plan B: Surrender to the adventure. There are times when the picker is amply prepared with necessities for the day. Plan for this and figure out other things to do while you are waiting for her. While she fills her bags with necessities, pack your bag with things to do. Some successful items include watercolor pencils, specially concocted beverages and chairs or tools for comfortable, prolonged relaxation. When you make yourself comfortable and surrender to the environment, you may stumble upon a wide variety of interesting things. While basking in the sun, I have seen bald eagles fighting with hawks, pine martins capturing squirrels and large fish in holes I never knew existed. None of these observations would have been possible had I not surrendered to my environment and decided to soak it in.

Plan C: Avoid going and start on dinner. Many foragers are lovers of food. Coordinate with your forager to bring him back into reality. Tell him what you would like to make with the harvest. Give him a dinnertime. Foragers do best on timetables like sunset, dusk and long shadows. Specific times typically cause resistance and nervousness in foragers, so if you make your timeframe wide and have a good dessert planned, he will eventually come back to you. Sometimes, letting go and giving the forager freedom is the only way you will ever see him again.

150603GetOut-2I wish you all the best in foraging, waiting for your friend or loved one to return, and enjoying the daily activities life has to bring. If you should decide to not take part in any aspect of gathering food, remember this story of little Miss Hen: She gathered food and asked for help for days. All of the other creatures of the forest refused to assist her and when it was time for a large feast, they were not invited. Thus, it can be wise to be supportive of people collecting things, for plants are delicious and nutritious. Sharing wild foods is a priceless gift that many city folk do not get the opportunity to appreciate. So enjoy this time of year and consider surrendering to the process.

About Elizabeth Koutrelakos

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