In a rerun episode of The Little House on the Prairie, some children were shown in a big open field where they were picking greens. Then the scene moved to Mrs. Olson, the closed mind antagonist of that program, she saying how poor the family of those children was “that they have to pick greens for food!”
I found this remark offensive, and was pleased when that program went on to show that picking and eating wild things in the spring was a matter of choice and not always because of necessity.
My mother went out and picked wild greens every spring of the year, and as soon as I was old enough, I went with her, she teaching me what to pick, what not to, just as her mother taught her. I guess even before I learned my ABC’s, I could identify dandelion greens, dry land cresses, plantain and creeping Charlie, purslane, sheep sorrel, the pig weed which I really like, wild garlic and ramps, and even violets, the flowers as well as the leaves. All are these are the first things to come up in spring, and after that, the trout lily, miners lettuce, and the best of all those green things; poke salad.
Back then we gathered these things in their season, but I don’t ever remember us doing it because we were poor. Although 1930 when I was born, was a part of the depression era of that time, I do not actually recall any family hardship because of it.
As far back as I can remember there was always food on our table, there was always a warm bed to sleep in at night, and we picked greens because we wanted to, not because we had to.
Sadly, now that I am so much older, the strength I used to have tending to run out like water, I only go green picking in my memory. I can see pictures in my mind of the sun lit fields I once roamed across; still visit them often in my thoughts. Now, I stay in the house and tend to the tasks fallen to me, without regret.
However, to compensate, when I can, I write about the things I once enjoyed doing, trying to pass on to others some of the pleasure it gave me. Wouldn’t it be nice, I say to all, that if that afore mentioned necessity should happen, we could still pick ourselves a mess of greens.
This could also apply to the Morel Mushroom just now beginning to fruit; free for the gathering, not always from actual need, but just because we enjoy the taste of them.
Long years ago while living in Michigan I read a book written by Janice Holt Giles in which she wrote about a mushroom she called Dry Land Fishes. Then I asked my friend Isobel Mowat if this was the same thing as those morels that she often spoke about. Isobel, an authority on all things wild, in kindness took me under her wing, taught me all about those delightful things, and about so much more. I remember with gratitude the special things she taught me about the Lord.
After I came home it took a while for me to see that those things I so enjoyed finding in Michigan also grew right here in Kentucky. The very first time I found a morel or picked myself a mess of new spring greens, I saw it was so.
Now in case my writing about these things does not help you to identify them, do this; go to a search bar in a computer, type in edible wild plants, and walla! It will give you pictures of some of these with which l am very familiar, having gathered and eaten most of them. You can also type in your search bar ‘Morels‘. You’ll get some pictures that after you have tasted those wild goodies will make your mouth water just to see. Then like me you can say; Thank you, dear Lord, for the wild things of the earth you made that are pleasant to see; are so very nourishing to eat, and are free to all.