02 February 2012
On further reflection, there is another thing that I would have changed about my approach to the first year here. That is my expectations about being able to source my own food. I had way underestimated the time and effort that it takes to collect, process, and preserve foraged, fished, and hunted fare. Never mind growing anything. Cabin building turned out to be a full-time job for most of the spring and summer. The first year was more about getting settled and sorted, and establishing relationships.
Someone had kindly given me a draft chart outlining the Haida seasonal harvest activities, based on traditional knowledge surveys. Some of the items on there, I’m not sure are kosher for me to try, like hunting seal or gathering seabird eggs or spearing Chum.
But seeing their harvest laid out month by month, I can see all the opportunities that I’d missed out on like the early Spring salmon run and in-river Coho. Even if I did manage to get in the odd taste of trout, salmon and halibut this year, I hadn’t managed any large-scale harvests that would have filled the freezer or canning larder. Of course, that would have meant knowing someone with the means (i.e. a boat), the knowledge, and the willingness to let me join to earn my keep. There are other harvests for which I had no such excuse. Such as berry-picking (huckleberries, bog cranberries, salmon berries, elderberries etc.) and other plant life (spruce tips, sea asparagus, nettles). And I’ve yet to dig up a single razor clam. They’re out there right now, underneath the sand as I type this. I just need to step out onto the beach at low tide with a clam shovel, and practise the one-two scoop, followed by the grab needed to pull one up. Sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and octopus are also on the list of things still on offer.
All are there for the taking; I just need to make the time. Even some of my friends who’ve visited from off-island, have shown me what’s possible with a little more drive. One couple in particular, every time I turned around they were stooped over to collect a chanterelle or some choice edible. I left them to their own devices one afternoon and they came back with beer boxes full of plump salal berries, which they proceeded to boil down and bottle. Although they’d never butchered a deer before, they’d still managed to turn one into neatly wrapped brown paper packages in the time that it took me to shoot and file a video post. You couldn’t go anywhere without them poking around and wondering at the edibility of various flora and fauna.
I would have liked to have seen what was in their larder after a year here. As if I wasn’t feeling inadequate enough they recently sent me up a book for inspiration, by Langdon Cook (“Fat of the Land”), which recounts the adventures of a modern day forager.
If I have any New Year’s resolution, it will be to take better advantage of the variety and plenty around me this year (although I’m still not tired of the tasty island venison). Hell, I may even stick a potato or two into the ground this spring. And actually, this particular friend is coming up this summer and we’ll do an expedition out to the west coast of the islands, collecting our food along the way. I expect some serious weight loss.
And a quick question to any bow hunters out there: any recommendations for either a PSE Bowmadness or Parker Inferno? Cabelas Canada is having a season-end sale. Gracias!
Joomla Templates and Joomla Extensions by ZooTemplate.Com
|< Prev||Next >|