Wassail! and takk for reading once again, whether you are from Europe, America, Africa, Australia, Brazil, Japan, or Mexico, and all other places on the earth. We are now halfway through what was known in the ancient Germanic calendar as the ‘Holy month’ or Halig-mōnaþ, and it is a time when the foraging prospects and harvests are abundant but also tailoring towards its end. When I sit down to write these posts on the new and full moons, they are some of the only infrequent times when I am inside for any stretch of time, and these warm solar powered days have been keeping me out of doors or walls, or cars, and any other enclosure most of the time. Our home is filled with plants from the garden, cactus, pine cones, taxidermy, bones, and sheepskins, and flowers so even our inside is much like our outside. I do like to frequent our tea wall however and enjoy a brew during my work on the land.
I just returned from a foray in the maritimes of New Brunswick, where my mate and I spent five nights camping, half of this time at the bay of Fundy where I took in some beach time, and scoured the sands for Atlantic surf clams, digging them out of the wet sand after the tide had gone out. I didn’t see too many others on the coast foraging which led me to think my luck would run dry, but I was able to collect nine of these saltwater treasures, and boiled them over a campfire for our hearty forest feast. Along the boulders laden with salt mist, I picked fresh blue and cranberries, the bushberries and crowberries also grew in the vicinity and was added to our dinner. Saving some of the clams, we were able to cook our eggs over the coals for breakfast. I really liked the ‘tongue’ and ‘belly’ of these clams, boiled and then steamed in a primitive manner, and with the shells, did as our ancestors did after shucking their meat, by throwing them overhead and forming the beginning of a midden (a pile of shells and crustacean biomass) at our campsite, hopefully this will inspire others to do the same, so that wild foraging and ancestral food can be practiced in the future, the way it always has been here at the vast Atlantic ocean.
Some of our time was spent further inland, near pristine rivers, evergreen riparian zones, and farmers land, on a field plot that was tended by a community. Our friends out there are in the process of finishing their small house, and it was interesting to see the organic building and insulation techniques they were using to prepare for the long Canadian winters. I helped pack straw mixed with river clay into the wall cavities which was much more fun than any kind of contemporary insulation process I will tell you. They also use a composting system for the toilet as we have here, and are completely off grid. The countryside of New Brunswick is beautiful and remote, and I was able to get some naked sun time in the brooks and rivers, and it had me thinking about how wild nudity, and natural beach bathing is regarded in North America. I feel like there is still this awkward stigma around it, and that there is going to remain this inhibition to let ones skin be bare in wild places, such as swimming and hiking areas, especially with other people around. For me, the first thing I want to do when I find a sandy stretch of beach is remove myself of the burden of clothing, especially since it can be so energy draining, and even a serious health concern to wear modern clothes. I see people wearing plastic swimsuits, that are toxic to their bodies, and then letting those materials rub against them while heating up in the sun, and it doesn’t make sense. I need to feel the water directly on my skin, and experience the sand lightly scraping away dead skin cells keeping it vital and clean as a part of wild hygeine. I feel more aquadynamic when swimming naked as well, and feel that is what our bodies are meant to do, that perhaps we did evolve very closely to coastlines, and lost our hair due to the balmy hot weather and the constant need for immersion in water for fishing and hunting purposes. We are so streamlined when we are our fittest, and I think nudity in wild spaces like beaches should not be so stigmatized, and for that matter, on woodland trails, or deserts, I think clothing just creates this disconnect from our natural habitat, an inability to feel the environment and thermoregulate and you don’t observe it in animal nature, and therefore why should we do it? It truly is a kind of cultural conditioning. Therefore I encourage those reading this to also spend some time before the cooler days of fall comes and get sun on your body, you can call it your daily vitamin-D harvest.
Back at the nest, I’ve been experiencing for the first time in my life what it feels like to travel away from a real home and coming back to the same place. The immediate signals I receive are the visual changes in the plant life, the way everything is taller, more robust, or perhaps starting their death cycles and waiting to be reaped by a careful hand or a sickle. I like to take the trail that leads from my home to the back of the land, about 70 acres deep, and just browse the bushes for edibles, like walking into a market and checking what each table has to offer. The last of the wild and cultivated blueberries are ripe on the stem, ground cherries are dropping in our garden, and I found a small patch of elder berries, along with salmon berries and the autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), which is a wild perennial species from Japan, naturalized here. Our first grapes are also coming to ripeness and a few arctic kiwis, which are quite a novelty for southern Ontario.
While I was in the east I also made it out to visit some friends north of Montreal, and spent some time in their neck of the woods, so we were able to forage quite plentifully on wild mushrooms; Chagas, Chanterelles, Coral, Boletes, Fly Agarics, Reishi, and Puffballs were not even half of what I saw amidst the forest carpets. It was also pleasing to see many of the species in the farmers market there, actually two stands selling different strains and variety of fungal colors. As Gaia produces these strains of fungal medicine just in time for when we need their adaptogenic, anti-inflammatory, and medicinal properties. We also sourced some wild boar bacon, and bison sausage from the same market, and had me thinking about how uncommon it is here in Ontario to find wild game, so I definitely consumed some healthy fat and lean protein from these meats while in Quebec, and would love to acquire more wild fat and protein leading up to winter. We made tempeh burritos and wildcrafted tea of the finest kinds. In the meantime I have enjoyed making some health smoothies, homemade ancient grain pizzas, vegan energy balls, and butter coffees, keeping things hygge at the nest.
I wanted to talk further about something I want to coin called ‘wild hygiene’ and that is any kind of natural, ancestral, and sustainable practice that is done for the purpose of health and wellness, and keeping in balance the vitality of wild places. Sometimes when I am out in these wilderness, I am purposely immersing myself as another creature that is meant to occupy these places. Often I find I enter an altered state of consciousness, not dissimilar from powerful medicines and plant drugs, but when there is some pieces of garbage lying around, unnecessary signs, railings, etc. and it takes away from the overall atmosphere and experience. Often these wild places are tarnished by a pile of beer cans left behind by a fire circle, or bits of plastic packaging, broken glass and coffee cups. I think I can only count two countries in my travels where I did not see this in the wild spaces I spend my time in, and sometimes I pick them up and carry them out with me but then it changes the whole energy of the trip, and I feel like I would rather get paid to do it. I feel that there should be more allocation to full time work in cleaning up natural areas, so that this wild hygiene can be allowed to thrive.
I’ve also been using my licorice root chewstick more often to clean my teeth, and animal sinew in replacement of dental floss, I like to rub cinnamon bark oil into the sinew as well. I usually use a bamboo toothbrush but I feel like before we could make bristles on a brush or file between our teeth with threads, our ancestors would have just used properly cleaned sinew from a freshly killed prey species, and twigs from trees for their own dental health, and I find most contemporary hygiene products so toxic, and wonder how this still makes it through the cracks as acceptable, even though it is ruining many peoples health, the same goes for hair and skin products as well, which I am almost strictly a proponent of Dr. Bronners, so I really want to push this wild hygiene aspect of living as a way to re-cultivate an integral, natural, and primal state of health.
The last thing I thought worth talking about in this dispatch is the concept of alloparenting, which I thought Aldous Huxley wrote eloquently on in his ‘Island’ book, and I have been moved into a world where this reality is very forefront to me, it is defined along the lines of ‘a system of parenting in which individuals other than the direct genetic parents act in a parental role, either for a short, or extended period of time. This definition does not exclude alloparents who are genetically ‘related’ to the offspring, such as siblings and aunts, who are often observed as ‘helpers at the nest’. Being that I don’t have kids, but my mate does have one son, it is not just our relationship or my personal growth that gets focused on, but also on another youthful being with many needs, questions, concerns and wishes, which has put me in the lines of being a kind of archetype, the same way I feel that I am to my youngest brother who is fifteen years my junior, and the need to emulate a strong, earthen, supportive and inspirational model, as well as assume the role of the alloparent in the homestead so that we thrive as a collective unit instead of disengaged individuals.
It has been a challenge of course to share resources, time and energy, so much that my own limits are sometimes tested, but I do think it is a naturally evolved and involved way of being, that primitive humans have always done in early societies, in a way that strengthens the tribe before the nuclear family. It is even observed before our species of homo sapiens, so there is also much to be learned of this form of alloparenting from the higher primate world which we have evolved out from. In Huxleys ‘Island’ book, this is the form of parenting that is founded in his utopian community where one youth does not only have one set of parents but all of them, including siblings who are caretakers and symbols of the parent archetype.
This has been a busy fortnight, but it is the good kind of busy, because I have been involved with a plethora of different engagements, next time I am going to talk more about sustainable fishing, a building project I have in the works, and an interesting nootropic plant. Until then, stay feral and hygge!