We ought to know about our home. We ought to know about the land, about the life, about the sustenance it gives. In my wanderings, I have begun to develop a deep relationship to the life that survives on the very soil which sustains us. As the summer passed, I found myself more and more familiar with the trees, herbs and grasses that inhabit these hills. With such abundance surrounding us, I began to hunger for that which nature could provide. I requested every book in the library system, seeking the plants which would feed us.

Why cultivate the ground, removing what is there and bending soil to our will, if abundance grows readily here? Is it not better to reap what has been sown? At the very least, we must learn from the natural world, working with it, rather than taming and conquering.

Inspired by my love for the natural world, one of our enterprising young scientists set out, intending to gather as much as possible of our dinner. Walking through the hilly meadows on a late summer afternoon, I pointed out spent raspberry canes, the wild apples ripening in the thicket, wild grapes. We pondered the abundance of japenese honysuckle, debating the effects of invasive species. He munched on clover. The goats munched on everything.

Sumac was a desired harvest. He gathered ripe, solid red cones.


Spicy horseradish grows wild near our garden fence.
Nettles require a strong grasp or thick gloves.
Making sumac-aid, on a summer evening.
Place the cones in a tightly capped jar of cold water.
Shake vigorously for 10-15 minutes, with the dedication of a 10 year old forager.
Strain and drink.

A science lesson and a bit of natural magic, all rolled into one. My alchemist turned water into “lemonade” and now knows his home more deeply.



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