Wolf Boy sighed; it was all too weird. Give him the Forest any day, where at least you knew where you stood with most of the inhabitants: potential supper.
When I picked up this book, I was looking for practical information on foraging for food in an urban environment.
I like to garden and (frankly) would prefer to live in the country on a little hobby farm, but I work in IT Security, so my job keeps me city-bound. Identifying and using wild plants is something I’ve had a long-standing interest in, but was never able to pursue, so I started poking around different blogs and forums, looking for information on plant-identification classes and nature hikes. That was when I stumbled across this book.
The family lives in a suburban environment. Midwestern cities tend to look very suburban, even in the inner city – this is not universal, of course, but as a general rule, we have a lot more green space than people in much more densely populated areas (particularly along the coasts). Therefore, this book describes a living situation that is very close to my own.
If you are living in the inner city (a truly urban environment) you will probably find this book equal parts interesting, entertaining and not-entirely-useful.
The book is filled with hands-on practical advice, but the facts are provided through the medium of the journey of discovery this family experienced during a year of living off of what they could forage. Every family member had been involved in learning these skills – and they clearly had a wonderful time playing outside together as they pursued this interest. So, the decision to attempt living off of their foraging for an entire year was a natural and logical progression of this pursuit.
Personally, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was fascinating and eye-opening from the perspective of what is possible, even within a suburban (or urban) environment. There are several points where they decide to collect apples, berries or rose hips off of public land (e.g.: the decorative bushes planted in the medium in the middle of a road or an apple tree in a public park) and find themselves asking – or being asked – if that was even allowed. Of course, the next question was always – who’s going to stop us? After all, there aren’t any official apple-protecting-police-officers assigned to the park.
There are also a lot of really good tips and commentary on raising a family. The beneficial aspects to simply setting a goal and pursuing it together, as a family and as a team, are beautifully illustrated by this book.
It’s an excellent read. I strongly recommend taking a look.
Quotes from this book can be found HERE.
“If the lion, in all its dark, nocturnal otherness, in all its light, internal sameness, does not exist for future generations, if we destroy its habitat, or call open season on it, what could we possibly find to replace it? It is precisely because we fear large predators that we need them. They hold within them so many things we have lost, or are on the verge of losing, personally and collectively, permanently and forever. If we sacrifice the fear, we also sacrifice the strength, the wildness, the beauty, the awe.”
–Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays on Wildlife, Family, and Food
“When she crossed that channel, which she had done many times in the past decades, she always felt as if she was taking tender steps across her heart. She walked across her heart into a new life. Ellie would walk into that place where dreams expanded; where the details of making a camp in the woods mattered more than the demands of life outside the wilderness. Here, Ellie could come close to having peace and expansion fill her—what she needed now.”
Finding Mother, Voice Lessons: Tales of Breaking Free;
“…We believe the wolf is the wisest and most spiritual of animals. Look how cunning they are, how they survive in such tough conditions. To see a wolf, in our belief, is a good omen. It means you will inherit some of its wisdom.”
“Perhaps most important for nomads was the belief in the symbiosis that existed between wolf and humans on the steppe. Wolves were an integral part of keeping the balance of nature, ensuring that plagues of rabbits and rodents didn’t break out, which in turn protected the all-important pasture for the nomads’ herds.”
“Reflective of the deep sense of gratitude and respect Mongolians reserved for wolves, there was a belief that only through wolves could the spirit of a deceased human be set free to go to heaven. ”
“Over time I would come to believe that to dismiss the wolf as a bloodthirsty enemy would be akin to labeling nomads in the same ignorant way that Europeans had done for centuries.”
-On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads
A description of the journey from the beginning of the book:
“The world expanded with every new challenge, from frostbitten toes to the dark clouds of mosquitoes that came with summer in Siberia. But most of all it was the people who left an impression on me….I found it astonishing that in the midst of an adventure I experienced more comradeship and connection with many of these people than with those where I had grown up in Australia.“