…..we’ve been ‘wild learning’ and ‘wild fooding’ of late, the last school were punitive, authoritarian, overtly cowtowing to the kirk under the guise of modernity, mouthed words ill thought out of ‘others’….I prefer to be one of the others, so hearing their words if even the speakers did not we took them at their subtext and made tracks…..
To be truthful, it became clear, like rainbow drenched dew drops, over easter, that it wasn’t the children who were the source of the bullying but the staff, leading by example…. the tracks we had made lead us right out of there!
Although we found another school with positive attitudes, tolerant minds, and considerate staff, we spent a few weeks de schooling, de..’that’…school…ing anyway, we visited farms, patted lambs, made scabs at the science festival, bounced on Sacrilege (Jeremy Deller’s inflatable stonehenge:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AssDOA87-J0&feature=player_embedded), learnt to cycle, petted the rabbit, went to exhibitions, cooked a lot, did treasure hunts, told stories, pottered about and were nice to each other, it was very very lovely, my article got published on ‘Green Parenting’s website (http://thegreenparent.co.uk/articles/read/storytelling-and-adventure/ ), and I was all up for going feral, but the thing is if we keep it that way it will mean I’m really not able to work very much at all, and I do love what I do, so few people and institutions accept children as a part of the adult world. So despite the fact I think it would be lovely to travel around storytelling with the child alongside, the practicality is that as a solution its riddled with intricate difficulties, and ultimately we would be beset by even more extreme poverty than the current barely viable status quo!
One of the most successful days out was to Houston in Renfrewshire, for herbalist Claire MacKay’s (http://www.herbalheritage.co.uk/ ) Wild food day, we traversed the Comfrey lined country roads wending out of Houston collecting the green furry baby leaves of knit bone to knit fritters with later, pocketing cleavers to hurry my lymph, perusing pathways into woods, nipping nettles tentatively to brew into broth. Wood anemones, violets and Lamium laced teacups amidst the gradually greening woods, as the children revelled in gathering twigs whilst the adults gave it varying degrees of commitment and a fire was built, the outdoor kitchen was great, and I managed to shovel in a fair quantity of the delicious japanese knotweed fool! The child, as children so often do, likes things all the more for having been grasped from the hedgerow, familiar with Hawthorns ‘bread and cheese’ as my Granny called the sweet, nutty young leaves, able find a Linden or Beech tree and concoct a salad on the hoof, this gave a new freedom away from my warnings about pollution and dogs, and added to the reportiore, we have been on wild garlic and walnut pesto with a handful of hedgerow leaves thrown n for weeks since, and we feel more alive and in touch with our roots for it.
Its such a shame our schools don’t host these days, that everyone doesn’t go on one, the respect we would have for our environment and our understanding of it would increase tenfold, Claire is running more, other herbalists are running similar ones around the country, check out http://earthwiseherbal.wordpress.com/ which is a great resource and posts upcoming events from herbalists around the U.K., and of course the 1972 classic book Richard Mabey’s ‘Food for free’ is still in print (I’ve had my copy since I was a child in the ’70’s when I planned on being able to survive down ‘The Outgang’ near the village near York where I grew up, the plan as I remember it involved taking my hamster with me….in my pocket……I wasn’t escaping my parents you understand, they had permission to visit, I was just planning being feral…its a persistent theme I suspect!). The other book I love is Roger Phillips ‘Wild Food’ its like feral got glam…..I like that!
What with me writing about storytelling to liven up walks in the Green Parent article, and the child’s quality questioning about the species around us, and all these wild macronutrients and living salad enlivening my brain, and the fact its a quiet Summer work wise,( I haven’t been able to seek work out like I would have liked to, my priorities have been other things), I thought I’d organise my own herbal story walk.
I’ve spent the last few weeks, watching the plants change as May progresses through harsh unseasonal chills, to todays softening warmth, spotting soft green leaves offering up their tales amidst the crumbling remains of the north woodside flint mill; eating beech leaves and adapting detailed fragments of fable to our heritage of stories. The landscape we live in plays an integral role in all our stories, and subtle lines of knowledge bind us like tendrils of Bindweed to the plants that surround us so often unseen.
So the herbal storywalk idea unfurled, Claire MacKay is coming along to share her knowledge of herbal medicine and love of wild foods, I’ve dug up some gorgeous stories, places can be booked on the events page of my website: http://www.botanicafabula.co.uk/Events.html , and the route is planned, it’ll be perfect for adults and children alike, we’ll be meeting at 11am outside the Kibble palace in Glasgow’s botanic gardens, on Saturday the 2nd of June and it’d be lovely to see lots of people there!