I had an enchanted morning, out in the fields gathering some wild nettles. Some for tonight’s dinner and some to dry to drink as a tea later on in the summer. Now, here it is prime time for the nettle, in the peak of its season. The fresh spring growth tender and abundant.
You know, I miss so much from Crete and I was reflecting upon this as I was out this morning, what would be a regular sight, so familiar, of people out in the fields collecting wild plants and herbs, known under the generic term as horta (χόρτα), you just don’t see it happening here. People wandering about with a small knife in their hands and a carrier bag bursting full of vibrant fresh greens after having spent much time in the fields with their bum in the air. For Creten and Greek people it is a part of daily life and diet. Everywhere you go you made sure you had a carrier bag and a small pocket knife with you somewhere either in your pocket or in the car.
I have really missed the aching of my back from having my bum poised mid air while collecting all the wonderful plants for dinners and drinks. But most of all, I miss the health I get from the plants as a reward! I do notice a big difference in my vitality after not having eaten freshly picked bitters and greens from the wild for a while. It has dropped considerably.
They are so good for you! The bitters help the stomach, they clear your skin, make your nails stronger, you get lots of nutrients, minerals, vitamins and energy from them. I won’t go into details but here are two excellent sources for further information for you to peruse and I will add them at the end of the post.
I really miss also, more so than anything else, the closeness I felt to the land and plants on Crete. I do miss the plants of Crete very much…they became very familiar friends and allies. Companions. We had a wonderful relationship and I miss them as dearly, just as I would miss any close friend. When you are close to the land, you eat of it, you live and breathe it, you communicate with it, it becomes a part of you and you of it. You develop this amazing relationship with what is around you and with what you share this life with.
So, it is about going back to this way of living for me. And bringing what I learned on Crete here with me. So I am back out there, familiarizing myself with the local land spirits, the plants, the land. I have oatmeal and tabacco in my pocket ready to be offered.
What I am really surprised about is, as I said above, what would be a familiar sight on Crete was met here this morning with people asking me what on earth I was doing! Not in an unfriendly way but they were genuinly asking me. I know there has been a surge of people re-wilding, it’s all over the internet anyway, and an uprising of foraging workshops, wild food workshops and just general awareness! But really, but I was surprised none the less by the responses. Perhaps it isn’t as common a practice as I thought?
Either way, I loved my morning spent out in the fields. I will add this as it is a bug bear of mine and I always rant on about it, so bear with me:
As a rule of thumb, only collect what you need from the plants and respect them and the land where you are collecting. If avoidable and you are not collecting the whole of the plant for a specific purpose, make sure you don’t damage the plant too much to ensure new growth. If there is only a little of the plant growing, I would leave it alone. From where it grows abundantly, I collect. I always give a little something in return, some tabacco and or oatmeal. I always chat away with the plants too as I am collecting.
Resources and further info:
Mrs Grieves Botanical:
Am very excited about this lady’s work, check her out here at: