Responsibility in the forest

Nature gives us so much. It’s beauty and bounty can feed and nurture our souls and bellies and give us a calming peace. Our relations are more at peace here away from the two-legged disruptions to their cycles of harmony and balance.

What responsibilities do we owe the four-legged, the winged, those that live in the waters, the plants, the minerals, the fungi, the water, and all our other relations in the forest?

When we are foraging, especially when new to the exchange, it is best to tread lightly. To first watch the plants for several seasons and see how they grow, reproduce, thrive; to know them in their full cycle, so that we can find the balance to not disturb them with our own desires. If we take too much in greed. Or destroy roots. Cut too much, or at the wrong time, we harm our relations and risk their future gifts to us.

For new foragers, who don’t yet know the full cycle, take pictures, not plants, unless you are in hunger. Find the edible plants that are invasive to your region and harvest those first. Things like garlic mustard. Japanese knotweed. Dandelion. Purslane. Coltsfoot. Staghorn sumac. Daylilies. Maple blossoms. There are many, many species to choose from.

Collect seeds of the native plants at the end of their cycles and learn how to sprout them and spread them in areas where they grow best so as to encourage their growth for later seasons. If we take. We must also give. When we forage, we must thank the plants for their gifts to us, and offer them some tobacco or kind words to keep the relationship strong.

We can never reach sustainability if we do not consider these relationships as sacred and important, not only to our survival, but also to our spirit and our sanity.

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