"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Friday, July 17, 2009

Purple Hands and Clover

We drove into the hills the other evening to look for clover and huckleberries and were rewarded with a great abundance of both. Surprisingly enough the huckleberries in the mountains were fat, juicy, and numerous. I was worried that with such little rain so far this year they would be small and hard to collect, but that was certainly not the case. We will pick these berries all the way into September moving higher into the mountains as they ripen.

My wife experiments with numerous herbal teas and having tired of chamomile and lemon balm she is on to using various clovers. I used to scoff at these things until I witnessed on more than one occasion the healing powers of these magical broths. I won't go into detail as I am still a bit skeptical but let's just say I have never seen a child get well so fast after drinking some of these potions...more than once.

While picking berries I was able to afford the time to reflect upon our lives and realized that other then certain periods of my childhood I have never been more content with life. There is just something about foraging for and growing one's own food and herbs that appeals to my primordial nature. Focusing on that which is good and real makes it easier to counter those many things in life that are not.


el said...

Tell Mrs H that my next 60 years or so will be more actively "herbal." I mean, when life hands you lemons (or lots of lemon balm, mint and chamomile that I didn't even plant) then life's trying to tell you something. And I have a ton of that clover, too.

You definitely hit it though: there's so much more peace when you have control over your foodways. Even when the weather doesn't cooperate, it usually means it is a good season for something, like those berries!

randi said...

what el said! Truly I get what you mean about contentment my friend.

Mrs. Mac said...

I won't ask where your huckleberry pickin' spot is .. but it sure is tempting to go fetch a bucket and pick a heap. Ever run into a bear while picking?

I bet that clover does make a nice tasting tea/potion. It sure does smell nice when it's in bloom.

Stefaneener said...

We felt really pleased when we found huckleberries last year. I couldn't believe more people weren't there -- we do live in an intensely urban area, after all. At least for now we seem to be the only ones after them.

Silke said...

Hi Mike, this post brought back memories again. My mother was from the black forest and many years, we'd visit her extended family and all go to the forest to collect baskets of huckleberries - I think I always ate as many as I picked and ALWAYS looked like a smurf when we were done...

I have to say that I truly admire and envy people like you who find their life and feel that peace and contentment. Especially people who live in a place and stay there and are rooted. Daniel and I must be part gypsy - we always have the moving bug. That's not to say that we aren't content - on the contrary, my life is amazing and I love it. I just have to carry my roots with me, which started the moment I left Germany and moved to the US. Maybe that's why I feel so drawn to read about your life... Enjoy your weekend! :) Silke

Mr. H. said...


I used to be a doubting Thomas when it came to herbs, but no more. I'm starting to see that nature not only provides all the food we need but medicine as well. The best part is that there are literally hundreds of herbs that can be grown in our garden. It will take at least 60 years just to try them all out.

Mr. H. said...


Yes, it's all about the little things. I used to think I needed to have lots of money, or other things to be happy. I now know that everything I ever needed was already there I just didn't realize it. If I can't be content watching a flower bloom or growing a simple salad for dinner then nothing will make me be so.:)

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac,

We are surrounded by huckleberries in this area, I think we pick in about 15 different places all within a reasonable distance. We ran into a black bear with a white neck a couple years ago up behind Wallace, and were able to film two young grizzly bears that same year while looking for berries outside of Bonners Ferry.

You might be surprised at how often we see and hear wolves during berry season. I was able to film a pack of 4 with a baby last summer. The main animal we run into though is moose.. everywhere.

The neatest animal I have ever ran into was in the CDA mountains. We were camping along some unnamed stream and early in the morning I was able to film a tribe of river otters playing in the stream while mist was rising from the cold waters...that was neat.

Mr. H. said...


We rarly see anyone else picking berries, mushrooms or anything in the woods anymore. The funny thing is that most people I know really don't like the berries. I find that strange, but hey, more for us. I can't believe you found another morel in your garden.

Mr. H. said...


I think if we ever visit another country It would be most interesting to see the German country side. I did not realize that huckleberries were so wide spread, and yes, they do tend to leave one with a few purple smudges.

I think a lot can be gained from traveling, although the little we have done only makes me appreciate where I am all that much more. I have no doubt that I would be just as happy in Montana, Alaska, or Canada. I just like the mountains, green forests and wild places. It's not how one achieves contentment in so much as ones ability to do so that matters.

LynnS said...

Purple hands and clover has a lovely sound....Methinks that you too have found the healing potion and magic within all that you do and grow.

And your last comment is profound: "It's not how one achieves contentment in so much as ones ability to do so that matters."

Mr. H. said...

Thanks Lynn,

I hope and believe the food we grow and gather ourselves contains all the health giving properties we will ever need.

Anonymous said...

You know, hanging out with my new born little goats the other day I thought the same thing, 'never more happy with my life'. One of my favourite things is getting up just before sunrise, making a pot of coffee, and hand weeding the garden.

Mr. H. said...


Early morning is by far my favorite time of day...quit and calm.

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