There’s almost nothing I like better than gathering wild edibles out on the trail.
Asparagus season. My eyes are glued to the sides of the path, where thorny, prickly bushes grow in random places. As we pass by an orchard of olive trees, I scan the base of each trunk for juicy spears, as this is where they usually grow.
I notice the first one, a tall asparagus spear towering above the thorny plant. Upon further examination, I see that this one is overdone. It’s starting to unfurl leaves from formerly tight crevices, so I pass on by. Then I begin to see them everywhere, in shades of deep purple and bright green. Some spears are hiding within a bush. Others have been nibbled away by animals. Still others grow way up above, towering over the thorns as if to claim victory.
I snap off one, then another. A sweet and tangy smell reaches my senses and I lift my hands to my face to inhale deeply.
Soon, I have a bundle, handfuls so large that I can barely carry them. I will bring them home and saute them or steam them or roast them. My heart is filled with contentment as I think about what we’ve gathered. A delicious meal discovered along a wild, muddy trail.
This same ritual can occur at any time of year. In late summer and early fall, we gather figs. I follow my senses towards wild fig trees. They grow up at random in mountainous regions and along streams. Or we find them near a cave or protruding from an old cistern. Each tree produces fruit of its own, special flavor. Some figs are deep purple, while others are green. The softest ones are the most delicious.
We never pass these sweet fruits without tasting, at least just a few. I press gently to check for softness, then pluck them from the branches, then split them in half to examine the insides. Half goes to my husband and half for me: sweet sustenance out on the trail.
We gather thyme and hyssop year-round and mint on occasion. Mustard blossoms offer a burst of spicy sweetness. Some olive and almond trees produce delicious fruit and others less so. Wild grapes and raspberries are a rare, but wonderful, find. Almost anywhere and everywhere, there is something to gather.
In our land flowing with milk and honey, delicious wild edibles are waiting for us scavengers. We go on the hunt each time we head out on the trail.