We took our basket to the woods

by Danielle Charles

This post is part of the UK Herbarium Blog Party, hosted by Lucinda this month.  As today is Earth Day (happy Earth day!), she chose Earth Day as her theme, saying to write of, “anything that reflects some aspect of our relationship to our beautiful Mother Earth.” 

For me, there is no better way I can think of to celebrate this day than to venture out into the woods with my harvest basket over my shoulder and my camera in tow. Especially at this time of year, there is always something spectacular to discover – whether simply to admire the beauty of, or some delectable treat  to add to my basket and take home for dinner. So off we went this afternoon in the damp cold air and gauze like mist, to the woodland that lies up beyond our cabin.

Whenever I walk in the woods, I am reminded that the world is a place full of beauty. That there is always – ALWAYS – something to celebrate, some little thing to bring delight – if we just open our eyes to see it. Everywhere one looks, there is something wonderful to see. How do I ever forget to look? 

And this is never more evident than in the springtime, when the drab hold of winter is beginning its transformation under the magic of spring’s touch. The ephemeral flowers emerging from the forest floor –  the unfurling of leaves – the blooming of tree flowers. But all of this happens in such a flash. If you don’t pay attention, you will miss it. If you do pay attention, however, there is so much…

Whether you look up:

or you look down:

And this time of year, there is usually something for the harvest basket as well,  and there is nothing more exciting than this to me who covets a good meal above all else! I’ve written about the many merits of wild edibles here – but even if they didn’t offer nutritional benefits, even if they didn’t taste exotic and wild and wonderful – still my heart would be gladdened at the site of them – and my spirit stirred with a sort of excitement I couldn’t quite explain as I plucked them and placed them in my basket. There is nothing in the world that I can think of, that gives me a stronger sense of connection to the land than when I am harvesting my food from the wilds.

We came back from our walk with our hearts full of beauty and our basket filled with goodies, though we were hungry and cold. So we cranked up the oven and rolled out the pizza dough that had been left rising on the counter.  The nettles and wild leeks were turned into a pesto (like this one), which we generously slathered over the dough and then topped with fresh mozzarella and the blanched fiddlehead ferns before popping it into the oven. The smell of wild things permeated our kitchen, as though we had brought a little of that woodland spirit home with us. When we took it out the oven, it smelled so divine that we just couldn’t wait for it to cool – so we burned our mouths eating it. But it didn’t matter. We were filled with the sort of calm satisfaction that only comes from a good long walk in the woods on a cold day and a dinner made from wild seasonal delicacies that you have gathered and prepared yourself.

I think there must be no more satisfying way to celebrate our relationship to the earth than a day spent such as this, nourished body and soul by the hands of Mother Earth.

Now head on over to Whispering Earth to read the other excellent contributions to the blog party!