Thursday, May 13, 2010
Gathering no more than enough
We went fiddlehead picking last week at our favourite creek bed. I've written about our fiddlehead excursions before. A couple of times. Gathering one's food from the wild - whether roots or greens or berries or sap - carries with it feelings of authenticity. It is almost as if by plucking what is good and wise and elemental and wild from the earth, that I can assimilate these attributes. My strength comes from the ground beneath my feet in so many ways.
Surrounded by the forest and clear tea-coloured streams, by the songs of birds and rustle of bare branches, we worked with a steady, relaxed rhythm...feeling for the telltale mound of unfurled crowns beneath a careless foot, carefully sifting through the alders and dykes of broken trunks and limbs washed downstream in the high water of spring freshets. Fiddleheads grow best in the sandy side lines of freshwater rivers and creeks.
Most of the ferns we found were small, with heads the size of marbles, a result of years of careless overpicking. We passed them by; I wondered how long before the plant could survive.
When we did find families of unfurled ferns the size of dollar coins, it felt like a bonanza. I found it hard not to pick all that was there. Because they were there for the picking. I silenced a voice from the past that said, "Well if I don't take them, someone else will."
But to take more than I need would deprive another. Would weaken the plant. So I was careful to leave the uppermost heads to unfurl into ferns that would feed the plant through the summer.
We do this so much in life. We take much more than we need. We accumulate more than is necessary. And we become burdened with the weight of it. I'm as guilty of this as the next. Recently a colleague, talking about growing her business, said, "There is so much money in the world, just waiting to be spent so why not go out and get it? It's there for the taking."
What if it were there for the giving? What if we lived with only what we need, then used the rest for a greater good? What would our world look like then?