Foraging Fridays: Wild in Tennessee Valley

On Tuesday, after we voted, Fern and I drove to one of my favorite little trails in Marin.

It was still mid-morning when we arrived, having taken flight directly from the polling place. I had participated in the society of men, and I felt the need to take my real vote out into the forest, to the falling leaves and browning brambles.

And we were greeted by a different kind of masculine. Usnea, also known as Old Man’s Beard. A magical and medicinal lichen.

Fern is a connoisseur of buckets, and she brought her new favorite.

We can fill them with berries, like we did on the hill, and then go home make pie when the siren sounds! True story.

We were in search of Bay nuts (inspired by Missa who regaled me with stories from the Women’s Herbal Symposium while I prayed to the goddess of parking during our outing last Friday.) and I had chosen this trail after it had appeared in my mind’s eye while considering where to go.

We found very few Bay nuts however, most having dropped to the ground perhaps two weeks before. At first Fern was disappointed, but cheered considerably when we found another dear friend.

This wild rose bush stood by herself in a small meadow, bedecked with nothing but her crown jewels.

Fern nibbled on an over ripe hip, savoring the tang. Remnants on her chin, we stopped to make wishes. I make an effort not to spread the seeds of enthusiastic species in the wild…with the exception of dandelion and thistles. Eeyores and Scots descendants everywhere are grateful.

As we walked on, the cobwebs of politics and personal concern were wiped from my eyes, and everything became crystalline. With quiet mind, I was able to encourage Fern to walk the whole trail, despite intermittent whining. The shy woods began to reveal its magic to our gentle presence, and tired feet were rewarded around each corner with new subtle wonders.

Next to her namesake. She can spot them anywhere.

November is a time of spiders, and parts of the dark and sunny woods sparkled with their weaving.

“This bench is outside my front door and you come to visit.”

We took advantage of every invitation to rest.

Attuned to place, veils were lifted aside by fae folk, and I was blessed to meet an ally whose acquaintance I have desired to make.


The front pockets in a new bag from a friend were the receptacle for handfuls of thanks.

Towards the end of the trail, we were rewarded by one of my favorite occurrences. A proliferation of buckeyes.

Full of tannins like acorns, they require a lot of processing to eat, and were a last resort staple food for north coast indigenous folks. Only that scout of the woodland, the squirrel, will eat them.

But no matter. They just feel so good in the hand, and you can’t help but collect a skirt full.

They hum with possibility, teasing the imagination to invent playful usefulness.

We walked back to the car with quiet and satisfied hearts. We had marked the ballot in favor of life, of love, of earthly belonging.

Have a good weekend.

P.S. Anne’s post about our time together is a beauty.


5 thoughts on “Foraging Fridays: Wild in Tennessee Valley

  1. Do I see little toofers? I’m pretty sure that’s the first time we’ve seen a toothy smile from Fern here on the blog! Ugh, I melt.

    I felt a little like I was on the walk with you, and I totally see that need to reconnect after the hustle and bustle of too much “people time.”

    I’ve been seeing a LOT of hawks and eagles lately. They remind me of you.


  2. Oh, I’m glad to see Fern’s thrift store bucket is still getting love. Wish I could say the same for poor Punxsutawney Phil, haha. I love that the bag is coming in handy on foraging expeditions too! I spotted it on your arm in one of Anne’s photos from Bloomfield Farms 🙂

    Also, a link to this came up in my fb feed the other day and I’ve been meaning to pass it on to you:

    It also contains a link to a more in-depth article. I hope you end up finding some freshly fallen nuts!

    Oh, and one more link for ya:

  3. beautiful! i love your foraging posts. there are many opportunities to do such a thing up here, and i get more and more inspired by your blog to take advantage of them!

    i’m inspired by your blog in a lot of ways—capturing beauty, creative cooking, respect for myself and others. you’re fantastic.

  4. Buckeye!? Wow! We call them conkers. Buckeye makes sense though- in a descriptive sense. From the horse chestnut tree, yes? I haven’t played ‘conkers’ in years. Do you know how to play?

  5. These shots are gorgeous- especially your tiny Fern standing next to that giant tree! And how stinkin cute is she with that lil bucket (and a bucket connoisseur?!) 🙂
    I’ve been thinking a lot about the email I want to write you regarding the spooks, and didn’t want to just jot something down really quickly, but I guess it won’t be an Earth shattering email either… I’ll finish it up today!
    I loved seeing Anne’s photo’s of your house- it’s fantastic!!! Those wood floors, high ceilings, and personal touches in pictures hanging seem so homey and like it really represents you and your taste! PS- LOVE your overalls in Anne’s shots, I tried bringing mine back out about a year ago and got a few stares, but man I LOVED wearing those for years!!! 😀

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