Monday, May 07, 2007

What Nature Provides

So right now I am reading "Living the Good Life"by Linda Cockburn. It is her account of her family living only on what they could grow in their city 1/2 acre lot in Australia for 6 months. And Rhiannon and I are finishing up the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I've read "The First Four Years" on my own. And the other thing I am doing is planting and expanding my gardens. All of this has got me thinking. Its all converged in my mind.

From Laura's books, I have been thinking about what Eurpean settlers and governments did to the North American prairies. Laura talks about how quiet and still it is on the prairie as the buffalo have all been slaughtered, the natives been driven off the land (although she says Indians) and wild birds and other wildlife like antelope move on as the settlers move in. And I feel so sad to read about that and I long to have been alive then, to see what the wild west was really like.... And then Laura talks about the natural disasters that come and destroy the settler's crops time and again. Almanzo isn't able to keep his claim and neither is Pa.

And then while reading Linda Cockburn's book and her struggles to grow the food they are accustomed to eating which isn't even close to being native to Australia and she muses about the naturalness of it all.

And all around me, dandelions are blooming. My lawn, my driveway, my fields are yellow with their fuzzy cheerfulness. This place used to be an organic farm. I don't know if it was ever certified but I know they used organic practises. So for the first time, it has been safe to pick dandelions and collect the heads and roots for tea because no herbicides have been used here for a very long time, if ever. A friend of mine and I have been talking about dandelions and collecting them together. And she said something that kind of gelled all these different threads together. She said, "What would it be like if we honoured the dandelion for its healing properties and everyone picked them and used them." (or something like that)

Yes, what would it be like? I mean, the dandelion is completely edible. The flowers, the leaves, the roots. I have long put the leaves into spring salads from the garden. It is a good immune system booster, too. When I am sick, I often make myself ginger/lemon/dandelion blossom tea. But in our society, we spray chemicals on the dandelions and slowly poison our drinking water and our soil through the use of it. Then we go to the store and pay money to buy pills with dandelion in it when we are sick... what is wrong with this picture?

Look at this basket of fluffy yellow flowers. Who says this is a weed? What if we were to eat what nature provided for us? What if we were to cultivate what already grows here? After all aboriginal peoples ate from the land for millennia before we came here. They didn't need lawns or rice or beef.... We try too hard to make things grow where they were never meant to grow and we ignore the good things that grow without effort.


And I don't mean to say that that I don't have tomato seedlings on my window sills along with peppers and cucumbers. Or that I don't have a garden that I cultivate. Or that I won't be picking plums for the 5 acre organic orchard on my property. But I am striving to be more aware of what grows right around me effortlessly and how it can be used. I am thinking about honouring the dandelion.

This tea towel in the middle of my kitchen table, covered in dandelions in various stages of drying, has been there for a week and it will continue to be there until dandelion season is through. I have a large storage jar on my counter filling up with dandelion heads. And I want to dig up some roots and find out how to preserve and use them, too.

So, what do you think? What if we ate what nature provides us with?

6 comments:

Mary-Sue said...

it's called PERMACULTURE. edible forest. bringing back the true Eden.
dandelions were brought to North America by the european settlers, weren't they? they couldn't live without their medicinal properties. and then suddenly (probaby not exactly suddenly) it became low-class, low-brow to have dandelions in the lawn and nobody used them anymore and they spread because nobody was picking the medicinal heads or digging the medicinal roots...
we're SO on the same page here. NO WONDER i like you so much! ha ha ha

beetlemack said...

i think those are some really neat ideas. and i love the little house books. i've read them all about 5 times.

Andrea said...

Well, I've read them about 3 times. I didn't read them as a kid but I've read them to each of my daughters...

Andrea said...

And I suppose that is what happened with the take over of allopathic medicine (and the persecution of witches and midwives), too - the denigration and loss of that knowledge about native plants and herbs that heal.

katie said...

i like how what we eat has evolved to include things from so many different cultures. the aboriginals subsisted, but their food just wasn't as yummy. and i'm not talking about instant/junk food.

Mary-Sue said...

We definitely need to take back the power of natural plants and herbs that was taken away with allopathic medicine. The rest is all balance...
Dandelions are an annual. If we honoured them for the medicine that they are, and welcomed the show of yellow heads and picked them all, and then dug the roots when they're fat and ripe, well, they wouldn't be a weed anymore! We'd be planting the seeds to keep them going! Just like in the old days...