So, ....You Want to Wild Harvest...

AS YOU EXPLORE NATURE FROM THIS DAY ON:
When you step outside for a stroll or go for a woodland walk or forage, try out a ‘free range’ experience in 100% Human-Plant relationship.

Stop, pause, listen, feel (open all your senses). Do this with semi-closed eyes or with a blank stair. Be in a mindless sort of way. Put aside the cerebral and bring in a heartfelt primal. Drop your thoughts to the beat of your heart and the rhythm of your breath. Breathe in. Allow the air, wind, sun, sky, rain, scents and  sounds to permeate and inform you and guide you into ‘just being’. What gifts does Nature before you, have for you on this day? At the same moments, release and recognize at the same time that you’re here not for the taking, … not for ‘there’s something here for free’…. you’re here because you know this is an act of both sacrifice and generosity, all at the same time. You recognize, … you sense that some where in your bones, there’s a call from a deep rooted memory, of an intimate past of reciprocity with all that is.

That’s my experience any way. I hope it can be yours. Well, I know it can be.

In this place, that is, the Nature that surrounds us, that Nature has opened up a gentle wildness in me of being home. And I feel home, all the time in that place. There, I’m instinctually fed on the emotional, elemental and spiritual – the God-Effect is clear - I’m revitalized, calmed yet invigorated. Feet planted. Mind clear. If and when you go out to harvest, do so with a 100% human-plant relationship in mind. Always ask first and always give thanks. Do inquire prior to leaving home too. What I mean by that is, ask if this day is the right day to go and forage. If a sense in your body-knowing tells you differently, then maybe just go out to browse and enjoy a one on one with a particular plant or bird or tree.

But also, be open to the reverse! Where if in you’re busy full day you suddenly get a sense that you need to be outside, or, its time to harvest a food or herbal … be open to this call and act on it. You’re being called upon.

As importantly, if you’re new to this, please do take a knowledgeable person to go with you who understands about the asking, who understands about the identification, who understands about how to listen, until you acquire the skills of inquiry and reception on your own. For instance, if you do go it alone and come to a plant that is new to you or if you are unsure of who the plant is, take note and leave the plant there. Learn more about the plant and the plants surrounding details. Read and research from numerous sources and friends. After some time, maybe even a few years, you may be ready to harvest, or, … maybe not. Perhaps the plant is endangered. Perhaps the plant could become endangered. Maybe even the plant is a poisonous one. Or … goodness gracious me, maybe, you’re still getting a “no” from the plant that you’re still not supposed to harvest this plant at all – just because. And so, you leave it be. Ah yes, this is a100% human-plant relationship.


WE KNOW THAT:
- wild foods are an enjoyable act of original giving and receiving behaviors
- eating wild foods is a timeless practice in reciprocity
- eating wild foods is currently being desired by many to know again (original
   wisdom)
- wild food is a gift from the-Nature-that-surrounds-us, take it seriously,
  our life depends on it.
- and always ask, every day-what have I done today to return to Earth, what
  Earth has provided for us

A HIKE’S FRAMEWORK
Honor this land and all (plants, trees, shrubs, fungi, ferns, lichen, moss, people).
Stay on the trail, pick up any garbage you may see, listen to Nature sounds, to your sounds that bounce off your breath, your senses, how your skin feels among  the outdoors. Help each other on this walk. Look out for each other. Look out for other species. Refrain from just mindlessly picking a leaf just to have a closer look. Leave the leaf on the plants body. Do hold a branch so that it does not bounce back into someone’s face and do hold on to that branch so as to not break or injure. I’ve seen young people kick trees … have honor and respect for both tree and our children. Stop, sit and listen with the child to connect to tree medicine wisdom. Getting still, the child will hear. And, do step gently and consciously as there are numerous beings below our feet.

SPRING TIME WEED WALK STANDARD
Whether today is your first time in a season enjoying a wild foragable or not, please refrain from eating more than one or two edibles. This is for the possibility of having an allergic reaction to the plant at hand. This way, you’ll be able to determine who contained the offending allergen. Also, many wild edibles have more nutrients than store bought fresh veggies and especially so during early spring. These plants are much more nutritionally dense and potent than the rest of the year. So less is more, almost always, in the realm of wild foods.

How much does one eat? Depends. Ask yourself these questions.
Is the plant an endangered plant? - Yes? Avoid.
Does the plant grow in abundance? - No? Eat little or none.
Can the plant become endangered? - Yes? Avoid.
Are there a lot of people attracted to harvesting this plant? - You can determine by what others are saying and what you’re reading in the media. - Yes? Eat little.
Is the plant being over harvested? - Yes? Avoid.
Are there only a few plants in the area you’re harvesting from? - Yes? Avoid.
Are they an ephemeral [delicate plants that grow for a very short time in one  season]? - Yes? Sample one and leave the rest there.
Do they agree with your stomach? Yes? Eat a small amount anyway.
Do they live close to or far from your home? This almost always means we should consider the natural elements rule: consume more of the plant if close by your home; less of the plant if far from your home.

What season do they offer their best nutrition?
What parts are edible? If only the roots, there’s a greater chance of humans impacting this plant from becoming endangered.

Once answering the above questions, I have always applied these two questions – again … just in case. (It’s a nursing thing. We ask safety questions again and again before giving a medication. So I apply similar rules to my practice before foraging.)

1) is the plant endangered? – check UpS plants list - www.unitedplantsavers.org
2) does the plant before you grow in abundance / invasive?


AND SO I ASK AGAIN - HOW MUCH TO HARVEST?
When it comes to our delicate or small plants such as Spring Beauty or Wild (Leeks) Ramps, that is, those who are here for just a short time such as ephemerals; or those that grow slowly such as Ginseng or Lichen’s (please note: most Lichen’s are NOT edible, plus they need so much time to grow; they grow only a few centimeters a year. Thus, please don’t use them for decorations). Or use plants that are known to be endangered such as Red Trillium or Goldenseal. These plant populations are so easily devastated. Thus please …
Be impeccable.
Choose wisely.
Ask gently.
Listen truly.
Receive clearly.
Do what is asked of you. You can’t tell? Wait then, and inquire later until you can. Practice makes perfect.

So … just how much does one eat of wild edible plants?
1) choose non endangered, non ephemerals and of course, non poisonous.
2) choose only those who grow abundantly.

Then the only other points to ask are - how does my belly feel after eating this leaf, stem, berry, root, bark or seed? Do I feel good afterwards? And is it okay to have if I’m on medicine’s? And that's another story.

Love and Blessings …

ABOUT VATA, PTTA, KAPHA INDIVIDUALS

Vata Person
Associated with the elements of space and air. So think of the patterns that space and air represent: spaciousness, openness, windy, light, airy, clear, cool, dry or easily dries out, quick, whipping around, changeable, etc. Vata people are creative, quick-witted and resourceful.
Vatas are active and alert and enjoy being on the move. Like the wind, Vata people are light, cool, clear, exuberant and expansive. Vata’s can be quite soft-hearted and romantic. They are seldom very good at managing money. Physiologically, vata people tend to be thin, with curly hair, dry skin and prominent bones. Thrown off balance, they can be nervous and fearful.

Vata is dry, light, cold, mobile, active, clear, astringent, and it is dispersing. All of these qualities can manifest in an individual. For example, if a person has excess vata in his or her constitution, because of the dry quality, he or she will have dry hair, dry skin, tendency towards constipation. Because of the light quality, the person will have a light body frame, light muscles, thin and underweight. Because of the cold quality, the person will have cold hands, cold feet and poor circulation. They hate the cold season and love summer. Because of the mobile quality, these people are very active. They like jogging and jumping and don't like sitting in one place. the subtle quality is responsible for the emotions of fear, anxiety, insecurity and nervousness.

With an overabundance of vata, people get spacey, irresponsible, ungrounded, out of touch with life's earthier aspects. Vata energy is based in the colon, and vatas are prone to conditions such as flatulence, tics and twitches, aching joints, dry skin and hair, nerve disorders, constipation and anxiety. Vata energy is strongest during the fall season.
Maintaining a routine is crucial to vata's good health. Vata people are particularly sensitive to sugar, alcohol and drugs and should use these substances sparingly, if at all. Cold foods aren't the best choice for vatas, especially during the fall and winter.

If you're a vata, you're advised to stay away from ice cream and other cold sweets. Choose warming foods and spices, and limit your intake of raw foods.You can eat some salads and raw vegetables in summer, preferably at lunchtime, when digestive fire, which Ayurveda calls agni, is strongest. Vatas thrive in warm, coastal climates
Pitta Person
Associated with the elements of fire. So think of the patterns that fire represent: Hot, dry, heated, stinging, sharp, quick, transformable (changes things into ashes), easily burnt up, etc.
Pitta people are fiery, determined, strong-willed and passionate.
Pitta people are tough-minded, clearheaded, enthusiastic and ambitious and can be quite successful. Pittas work well under pressure and can be courageous in emergencies. Out of balance, the pitta temper can be scary, however. Unbalanced pittas fly off the handle, scream and lash out, criticize and judge. Or they seethe in private and develop ulcers. The pitta dosha combines the elements of fire and water. Think of diving into the ocean on a hot summer's day at the beach. That's pitta intensity.

Anyone with red hair and freckles is probably pitta. Blondes are frequently pitta, too, as are those with prematurely gray hair. But pittas can also have dark hair. Of all of the doshas, pittas most easily maintain weight proportionate to height because of their strong metabolisms. Pitta is based in the small intestine, and pittas tend to have efficient digestive systems. (A little pitta energy is essential for everyone, since anything that enters the body, from food to new ideas to new experiences, must be digested.)
It has hot, sharp, light, liquid, sour, oily and spreading qualities. Because of the hot quality, the pitta person has a strong appetite and warm skin. The body temperature is a little higher than the vata person. The second quality of pitta is sharp, therefore the pitta person has a sharp nose, teeth, eyes, mind and while talking uses sharp words. They also have very sharp memory. Because of the oily quality, they have soft warm oily skin, straight oily hair, and the feces are oily and liquid. They have a tendency to gray prematurely, a sign of early maturity. Pitta girls get earlier menstruation and reach puberty earlier. Because of the light quality, pitta people are moderate in body frame, and they do not like bright light. Because of too much heat in the body, they tends to loose his hair in early youth and have a receding hair line, or bald head. The next quality of pitta is strong smell. When they perspires, under the arm pit there is a typical sulfur smell, and if he doesn't wash his socks, they will have a strong smell. They are often wise, brilliant people, and can have a controlling, dominating personality. They have a tendency towards comparison, competition, ambition, and they have a quality of aggressiveness, so naturally they criticize.Pittas can be fad followers, moving quickly from one passion to the next. They often are very good at making money but not so good at accumulating wealth. Pittas like to spend money as fast as they make it. Summer is a pitta season, and problems such as sunburn and poison ivy typify pitta's tendency to develop skin rashes and outbreaks. Pittas are also prone to burning sensations such as ulcers, to fevers and to inflammations and irritations such as conjunctivitis, colitis and sore throats. At menopause, pitta women may have the most trouble with hot flashes.The optimal pitta diet emphasizes cooling foods such as cottage cheese, mint tea, oatmeal, basmati rice and sweet-tasting fruits. Pittas often love to eat hot, spicy foods but should do so only rarely, because spicy foods aggravate pitta's natural fire.
While vatas may skip meals because they simply forget to eat, pittas always know when it's time for dinner. Everyone needs to eat regularly, but pittas are most adamant about doing so. The best place for pittas to live is in cool climates where seasons visibly change. New England, for instance, is prime pitta territory.

Pitta people tend to get inflammatory diseases, while vata predominant people tend to get neurological, muscular and rheumatic problems.Kapha Person
Associated with the elements of water and earth. So think of the patterns that Water and Earth represent: water is wet, moist, cool, heavy, and depending on its flow it could be sluggish to stagnant to rushing and gushing; earth is dense, dark, cool, moist, heavy, solid, strong, etc.
Kaphas are sensuous, strong, calm, soft-spoken and forgiving.
Kapha people tend to have well-developed bodies with big but not prominent bones. Hair is plentiful, usually dark and wavy or curly. Kaphas frequently have oily complexions and large, soulful eyes. Of all of the doshas, kaphas have the most trouble keeping their weight proportionate. Vatas worry and fidget themselves skinny. Pittas burn off the pounds with their fiery energy. But sweet, self-satisfied kaphas can turn into couch potatoes who kick back and pack on the pounds.At their best, kaphas are wise, relaxed, tolerant and loyal. Connected to the elements of earth and water, kaphas are usually well-grounded, fluid and able to accept changes. Down-to-earth and good-humored, they can make wonderful friends and excellent hosts. But when their energy goes out of whack, kaphas become greedy, possessive and selfish. While their tendency to live in the present is advantageous to their spiritual development, their deep, abiding attachments to people and things can be obstacles on the spiritual path.Kapha energy dominates in winter and early spring, and some of the diseases kaphas are most vulnerable to are associated with those seasons. Kaphas can be more susceptible to colds and flus, sinusitis and headaches. Kaphas frequently suffer seasonal allergies. Their metabolisms can be sluggish, making them feel tired, gain weight easily and retain water.
The good news for kaphas is that if they eat sensibly and exercise regularly, their natural strength and endurance give them an advantage for living long, healthy lives. A good kapha diet emphasizes pungent, bitter and astringent foods. Kaphas can safely use plenty of spices but are advised to stay away from sweet foods and follow a low-fat diet.
From the financial perspective, kaphas are the most likely to build up wealth. They're good at making money and at saving it. Kaphas thrive in the desert or in mountainous regions, as long as the weather is moderate to warm. New Mexico is a great place for kaphas to live.Kapha will have heavy, slow, cool, oily, liquid, dense, thick, static and cloudy qualities. Because of the heavy quality, these people have heavy bones, muscles and fat. They will have a tendency to put on weight. Because of the slow quality, they have slow metabolism and digestion. They walk slowly and talk slowly. They don't like jogging and jumping. They love eating, sitting and doing nothing. Kapha is cool hence kapha people have cool, clammy skin. Kapha people have thick wavy hair, and big, attractive eyes. They have slow but prolonged, steady memory. Kapha people are forgiving, loving and compassionate. thekapha person has a sweet tooth and loves candy, cookies and chocolate.

About [Dosha’s] Constitution’s

Ancient traditions of the East and other similar societies around the world use Earth based methods to describe and help each other better understand human nature, (as well as other living organism and inert substance’s) on the planet. Ayurveda, is one such tradition from India that goes by an ancient system where its model is holistic and easy for Westerners to comprehend. This system provides us with a wellness guideline in ones quest for health though I much prefer to call it for ones quest in ‘optimal flow’, as our health is always in a flux of an ebb and flow.

In particular, this system interprets and exemplifies for humans, how we and other living organisms (microbes) and inert substances (atomic structures) embody these qualities, energies, resonance, patterns, etc. depicted by the elements of earth, air/space, fire, water, and metal. Ideally this helps us to flesh out and characterize these earth element in humans, animals, plants and things. And it does this in a way that helps us makes sense of the flux and flow of balance and harmony.

I’ve simplified this for you so that you may use it in your every day life. So, lets get started.

The general term, Dosha is an Ayurvedic term that means constitution. In this tradition, there are 3 types - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It is a 5000 year old method of body analysis that can be easily understood by Westerners to manage ones wellness on a daily and seasonal basis without much or any herbal practitioner intervention. Yet if you find you need guidance or you have health imbalances that need attention, please don’t hesitate to contact me or other health professional for assistance or Ayurveda analysis.

The 3 constitution’s are:
Vata – Space / Air - hard, dry, windy, changeable, flighty.
Pitta – Fire / Water - hot, sharp, fleeting, wet, steamy.
Kapha – Water / Earth - wet, dark, dense, heavy, solid.

This is not like palm reading nor is it like a horoscope or like taking ones blood pressure or body type assessment. Yet it has an effect all of these.
You were given a self-analysis tool – the “Dosha Analysis Chart” to fill out. This help’s determine which predominant Dosha you are. Though we embody all 3 types (because we cannot exist missing one of the 5 elements – metal, air, fire, water and earth), it is recommended that we abide by the one that predominates. Through our activities of daily living, eating, how we eat, how we prepare the food we eat, to rest time, activity time, liquid intake, relationships and spiritual practice.

It is suggested to retake the Dosha Analysis every couple of months to see where you are with your constitution. For one big reason, as you adjust your Dosha to each season, your Dosha will be in less extreme’s and become more balanced. For instance, lets say you are predominantly a Pitta. Your ideal time of year is winter where you may feel the best balance. On the flip side, summer may be uncomfortable for you and you may feel imbalanced. The Analysis Chart, the below Dosha descriptions, and the following handouts will help you help yourself adjust your dress, activity of daily living, ideal time of day, food intake and emotional health to better balance summer or which ever season is causing imbalance. Likewise for Vata and Kapha constitutions.What I love most about working with ones constitutions is that it is adaptable to any dietary recommendation, cleanse, fad diet (not that one should do those, but…) it can be adapted.

Spider Women

SPIDER WOMEN

It’s those quiet moments in the garden, when there’s no other human but just you and the outside world, where our greatest gifts and shifts occur.

Spring time for me is that special time of the year when I so look forward to just touching the sweet scented cold soil, swirling it around with the tips of my cold fingers … just because.

It’s simply too early to plant. Too early to uncover the beds, but just being there with all the early spring scents to just relish in our dynamic relationship with all garden beings. One never knows what experience lays ahead.

Well, this one happened to me some years ago when I was doing my usual early spring garden stroll through the shaded protected beds, taking notice of who might be sending up its first spring shoots so that I could be the first to say hello.

Sitting down on the stone wall that my friend Yemana and I built, to get a closer look at the wild ginger patch and you know, to just touch and swirl the soil around. No words are necessary here, I just surrender my wants and needs to the needs of the Nature outside of me.

As I sat on this cold damp stone wall, I touched the leaves that covered the soil and began moving them aside to see who I might find under its cover. Slowly and methodically I gently moved the leaves and maybe a little too quickly too, as before the next stroke of my hand, I stopped because my eye caught the movement of a tiny rolling white spider egg which belonged to a garden Wolf Spider. And there she, spider, went, scurrying in the other direction, surely wanting to save herself from my clumsy freezing hand. But then, she stopped. Turned around and looked right at me!!! She said to me ‘give me my egg’ or maybe she said ‘that’s my family there’ or maybe even, ‘I need my egg’. Whatever she said, I knew that she wanted her egg.

She looked at me, then at her egg and then back at me again. Yep, she wanted her egg.

Okay well I did not doubt any of what I heard, felt, saw. So I followed her requests. Did what she had asked and here’s how it all unfolded. I slowly moved my hand over to her egg to carefully pick up its delicate white casing. Holding it carefully between my thumb and fore finger, I slowly moved my hand towards her. Stopping a moment to show her that I had her egg between my fingers. I did this first from a long distance from her so that she could see what it was that I was doing, and then I got a little closer and showed her again. She then walked a little closer to me. Oh my goodness I thought. She understands. Darn it. So I advanced my hand a little closer to her. She advanced her body a little closer to me. Gradually we both got closer and closer.

As my giant hand approached her tiny body I rested it on top of the soil so that it would be right at her level. Still my fingers were carefully holding her egg. Cautiously she came up to my two fingers that were holding on to her egg.

She reached up.

Clamped on to her egg with her front legs.
I did not put it down on the ground.
I actually gave her, her egg!
She let me hand her, her egg !
Spider picked up her egg right out from my fingers.
She then scurried away.

My life changed forever, from that moment in time with a light stricken sonic boom went my senses, to the farthest east and west, and my crown center opened to the heavens and my feet were grounded in every earthly sense. We shared that white egg for one flash of a second. My pink flesh to her hairy pedipalps (her two front legs). Is this love? This is love.
 
We both followed and trusted our feminine instincts – mother to mother. Creator to creator. This was about us knowing our place in the garden. We are from the same mold, some where’s in our distant connections. Mothers. Both givers of life, dynamic forces in deep mutual relationship.