The panier is seemingly empty, after a walk in the forest confirmed
that the arbousiers (strawberry trees) have not produced this year,
along with the noisetiers (hazlenut trees), and there is not even
enough humidity for mushrooms.
Yet although ‘empty handed’, I realise the knowledge I have gained
more than compensates for lack of a wild harvest. After 18 months here
I know what to look for and where; along with a greater understanding
of seasonal changes, I have many paths etched in my memory and as a
result of keen observation, ‘signs’ to look out for. Thus I can read
what is happening, and rather than feel like I am ‘missing out’, be
much more aware of where to direct efforts.
The chestnuts are falling, but this year I will leave them, harvesting
only the best and ripest when the time comes. There is only ever gain,
as knowledge turns to wisdom through direct experience – interacting
with the environment and waiting patiently to harness the moment when
conditions are right.
Walking home, my panier was filled to overflowing, as the dead wood
that cracked beneath my feet became the precious resource that will
light the first fire – a gift that I could easily ignore comes alive
when valued and stored. And as I take, I think what to give; my
thanks for the abundance that is always there to be reaped, for
in entering this world only footsteps away, I am transported to a
kingdom that teaches me each day – relating to the cycles that govern
life, as growth and decay both provide.