Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Things I Carry


I pack my backpack for work, as I do every morning.

I check to see that the cloth and mesh shopping bags are there.

At the bottom of the pack is a little, leather pouch with two knives and a Leatherman multi-tool. I also carry a pair of mini-binoculars. You never know what kind of nature you might find, even in an urban environment. It's good to be prepared to take a closer look at something, or to take a sample of a plant to bring home and identify.

Another permanent item in the bag is my trusty utensil carry-all, that my dear friend made me. Forks, spoons, knives, chopsticks and cloth napkins for two, are neatly rolled up in a pretty package that I never like to leave home without.

Into the bag goes the book I am returning to the library. I will exchange it for another book that I put on hold and is ready to be picked up.

Next in is my lunch: leftovers in reusable containers.

Then my travel mug full of hot tea, and a glass bottle pulled from a recycle bin, filled with today's herbal infusion: stinging nettle.

Those are the standard items I carry on any given day and if they were on Monty Hall's "Let's Make a Deal" list of what's in your purse, I'd be a wealthy woman.

This morning however, I added a pair of rubber tipped garden gloves, a trowel and a plastic bag to my pack. As soon as I'm done work today I'm heading to a place I know right in the heart of the city. Surrounded by a busy road, the transit way and a shopping mall, there is a small stand of trees on a hill and growing in amongst those trees are trout lilies. Erythronium americanum. I grew up knowing them as dog's tooth violet. They are an early spring flower, very pretty, with uniquely mottled leaves and they are edible. Sam Thayer gives the best treatment I've found so far of the whats, wheres and hows of trout lilies, in his book Nature's Garden. I highly recommend it.

My quest today will be to gently harvest some bulbs and the newly emerged leaves to bring to a potluck.

I love that my growing knowledge and intimacy of the landscape I inhabit leads me on these adventures on a Tuesday afternoon in April. I love that you won't find credit cards, a makeup compact or an iAnything in my bag. I live in the city and work at a desk job in an office, but at any given moment I am fully prepared to get down and dirty in the nearest patch of earth!

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3 comments:

Green Grrl said...

Awwww. I miss you! When can we go urban foraging? Or have some tea? Or both? :-)

Amber said...

Yes!! Let's forage for things to make tea with. :) I'll email you...

Pamela said...

Your blog is so inspiring. :)

For the past few weeks. I have been thinking a lot about my bag, too... how what I put in it allows me to lively lightly when I am out of the house. I keep finding more to carry which then leads me to seeing what I can reduce by finding multi-purpose items.

Happy foraging!