Gleaning and gathering are the keywords for October. Tromping through the forests in our rubber boots for the Chanterelles, subjecting ourselves to the thorny vines on which the rosehips hang large and ready for the jelly or tea pot, trying to get as many tomatoes as we can before the slugs reach their ripened meats – all the work of Autumn’s first few weeks. Rewarding work, too!
Recent days have brought us the remnants of a typhoon and so the rains have come early and heavy. We removed the peppers and tomatoes from their vines, and a new set of fruits is already trying to come on. The peppers have been dried, pickled, smoked and ground. We’ve made preserves, sauces, ketchup and salsa with the tomatoes and eaten many of them raw.
The Chanterelles were all cleaned with care and dried as well. It’s a tedious job with a pastry brush, but it provides the perfect opportunity to allow for trance work in the kitchen. We love this harvest and look forward to it every year. Not only does it connect us deeply to the land in our search for it, it provides a myriad of health benefits.
“Like other mushrooms they contain vitamins A and D as well as some of the B-complex ones. They contain all the essential amino acids and glutamic acid is believed to boost the immune system and may help fight cancer, infections and rheumatoid arthritis. There is evidence that it inhibits blood clotting, which is valuable in the fight against heart disease. As for minerals, they contain potassium which regulates blood pressure and the contractions of the heart muscle; copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, zinc and selenium which is good for the mood and the brain.”
Sunchokes are another native of our region. I’ve actually wild-harvested the roots and planted them at home. They’re towering over me now by a few feet with their soft, yellow flowers popping open. Underneath, in the soil are the crispy, tender, sweet-tasting roots that we love and that love us back. We’ll dig them all through the Fall and into Winter as well.
Mustard seeds have been harvested and dried, then soaked and made into hearty, rich mustard sauces for later use. All of these wonderful, earthy gifts that come flowing in and enriching our lives this time of year prepare us to live well until Spring comes back around again.