Pulling Lion’s Teeth

Dandelions 1Dandelions are everywhere, right now.

They’re in your backyard, along ditches and footpaths, flash-mobbing soccer fields, sneaking through cracks in the sidewalk and fighting to overtake golf courses. They are the hardiest (most say would say “insidious”) of vegetation, able to resurface again and again in the most unbelievably anti-green environments our concrete and Astroturf-loving human brains can conceive. They resist toxic assault and uprooting with ease. They are a symbol of everything gardeners hate: The uncontrollable factor riddling even the most minutely-controlled landscaping project. Just Google the word “Danedlion” and the first result you get will be “Kill dandelions dead!

They have become the enemy, the plague, the weed… But before you get out the pitchforks and lawn-napalm, there might be something else we can do with these offenders. Our ancestors knew this plant very well, not as a weed, but as a source of food ‘n medicine… Yeah, dandelions are completely edible. It blew my mind as well! (more…)

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Best Westcoast Foraging Guides

Best Foraging GuidesMy co-worker and fellow creative lunatic Carol recently asked me what I considered to be the best, most easily accessible books on Wescoast foraging. She’d been poking around the backyard, getting excited about harvesting some local spring plants to eat and wanted a guide that could: a) Give her a fundamental understanding of foraging – ie. when and where to pick what. b) Clearly identify what plants are edible and what to avoid. c) Inspire her to roam farther afield for new experiences. (more…)

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Walking On The Beaches, Part 1 – Watercress

Watercress1 smallEverything is grey.

There is water out there somewhere, but no reflection from the sun. No visible horizon, just a solid, foggy expanse. Like some sort of Homeric underworld. A granite curtain, empty and undefined.

It’s bloody cold.

We are at the beach in late November, on yet another hunt for local foragables. It’s chilly enough to warrant the traditional full coat and toque combo that all Canadians (even those of us smart enough to have migrated West) have kicking about in the back of the closet. I can see my breath hissing in the ashen stillness. But, I don’t feel any chill, in fact I’m excited! Down the beach I can see it, vibrant against the grey stones… It’s green, like the Emerald city.

We’re off to see the wizard! (more…)

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Gone To Seed

Gone To Seed1Still alive I am.
At the end of a long dream.
On my journey,
fall of an Autumn day.

          Matsuo Bashō, The records of a weather-exposed skeleton (1684)

I sit in my living room, coffee in hand with the fire from the wood stove sputtering and popping behind me, toasty and content, while outside my austere little zen garden shivers and rots in the autumn frost…  It’s all gone to seed. (more…)

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Golden Chanterelle Mushrooms

shroom1It’s autumn, there’s no doubt about it now. The skies have darkened to the gunmetal grey colour we all know so well. The mornings are too cold to roam the backyard in shorts… Back to my ratty jeans, I guess. I can see the steam of my morning coffee rising against the bitter chill with an almost audible hiss. The leaves play a staccato beat in the greenbelt as they fall, hitting every brittle branch on their way to the mushy floor. And the rain… oh, the rain completes the autumn ensemble by punishing the gutters with waves of smooth and freestyle jazz arrangements in the key of dank.

I couldn’t be happier. (more…)

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