Courtesy Ludovic Hirlimann/Flickr
Ah, Memorial Day weekend—the unofficial start to summer. I look forward to this time every year, not only as a chance to get some extra time off work, but to enjoy all the land has to offer. The weather is finally warm enough, at least in the part of the country where I live, to splash around in a creek, work in the garden and take a hike through the forest. Over the long winter, I always forget about all the wonderful and mysterious things the land presents to us.
One of my favorite things to do when strolling the land, whether in my backyard, on a farm or on a marked trail in the woods, is to take photographs of all the wildflowers and foliage springing to life. I’ve recently gotten into researching these new-to-me, uncultivated plants and foraging the ones that offer nutritional and medicinal benefits.
When gathering wildflowers, it’s important not to judge the flowers too harshly based on preconceived notions. For example, as a life-long allergy sufferer, I always though goldenrod was the bane of my existence. Then last fall, I took special notice of this plant, which grows in great among the hills and roadsides of Kentucky. It’s golden, feathery blossoms continued to catch my eye, so I tried to learn more about this plant. As it turns out, goldenrod is often not the cause of allergies, but rather the blame should be placed on ragweed, which tends to grow near it. In fact, goldenrod blossoms can be picked and turned into a delicious tasting tea, which helps support kidney function. Properly functioning kidneys can actually help relieve symptoms of allergies, including puffy under-eye circles (to which I’m particularly prone).
Isn’t that funny? Instead of judging this wonderful wildflower as I always had, I learned something new and exciting about it just by being curious about it. How true can that be in other aspects of our lives?
You don’t have to have any interest in wildflower foraging or even hiking for that matter to put judgment aside and embrace the unfamiliar. Instead of putting up a wall when you meet a new neighbor or encounter a new problem on the farm, start asking questions about the person or situation. Show a genuine interest in learning more. As I’ve written about before, I believe it’s important to be lifelong learners, especially if we’re trying to live off the land.
So this Memorial Day, if you have a little extra time—which many of us do—take some time to be curious about something you’ve formerly written off, then share with me what new and exciting things you learned.