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Friday, July 26, 2019

Sun and shade or morning mist

There comes ... a longing never to travel again except on foot. ― Wendell Berry

When possible, and other things permitting, I get out and walk. Today will be over 90F, but this morning was nice.

For years I had a walking companion, a cairn terrier named Toto, who once walked seven miles with me. We took a celebratory selfie.

Over the last year we were limited to going about a block and back and then, one day, he could not walk at all. My walks are longer now and I keep an eye out for flowers for his grave.

When the plant is useful, like chicory, I may also gather leaves or seeds. Generally I carry pruners and a bag or pack, and watch out for any kind of seasonal forage (and also pick up trash) wherever I go. In high summer, some folks set up a put-and-take table by the mailbox, and so I stop by the garden and orchard to gather some "put" to leave at the table and then "take."

You might make a bag from a cotton flour sack or old canvas shopping bag. In the case of the flour sack, cut out a "c" shape at one end and put an overcast stitch along the edges. In the case of the shopping bag, the kind with two cloth handles, cut each handle from the bag at opposite ends and stitch the ends to each other, for a shoulder bag.

Around here, roadside or vacant lot forage might include, in season, dandelions, chicory, nettles, deadnettle, blackberries, apples, pears, rose hips, firewood (sometimes dropped from overloaded trucks), St. John's wort, usefully shaped stones, salvageable bottles, willow leaves, maple flowers, plums, clover, fresh soil from gopher diggings, or horsetails.

Locally, we have quite a range of walking opportunities, including underutilized parks,

deep forests,

cobbled riversides,

uncrowded seashores,

and quiet mountaintops.

I'm willing to take advantage of those, but to me, the most fulfilling hikes are the ones that begin from my front door. The hat, stick and bag (with pruners and some water) hang in the mudroom, close to where my shoes or clogs await. What will I see ... what will I carry home? Often the tea that I make and drink, later in the day, has walked home with me from elsewhere in this valley's sun and shade or morning mist.

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