Early springtime foraging - perfect bliss!

violetjpgThe rain is hammering down outside my window today, leaving Saharan sand coloured water droplets all over the cars and windows.  Not very appealling weather for foraging, but tomorrow the forecast is for sunshine and 15 degrees C - perfect!

Foraging in springtime is so joyful and life affirming.  The sight of all the new shoots popping out of the woodland floor or farmland hedgerow is such a relief after the gloomy, dark days of winter.  The migrating birds are beginning to return now and I am hoping to hear both skylarks and chiff chaffs tomorrow.

A have a few favourite spring foraging sites and I know that tomorrow I will find fresh wild garlic leaves, the first shoots of both dead and stinging nettles, new dandelion leaves and flowers together with violets and primroses.  If I'm lucky I might find delicately furry hog weed shoots unfurling - delicious fried in tempura batter with a sweet chilli dip. Yesterday, I nibbled bramble shoots for the first time.  These tight, pointy little buds have a very nutty taste and would make a great topping for a salad or an omelette, as well as a handy hiker's snack.

The warm spring sunshine will encourage the tangy daisy flowers to open and persuade the hawthorn bushes to start budding up with their bright red, almond tasting leaf shoots. The earth will start to take on that warm, growing smell that I love so much and the wild garlic will fill the woodland with its strong allium scent - not everyone's favourite I admit but it definitely wakes your nose up.

Obviously, finding delicious wild food is exciting enough but the sounds, sights, smells and textures of the returning life around us is so profoundly blissful that the edible treats aren't really important.  Bliss is hard to come by at the best of times and is all the more wonderful when we have had dark times.

So get out for a walk in the next week, if you can.  Stop and listen, focus on the sounds and the scents of spring, nibble a bramble bud and breathe!