Monthly Archives: December 2017

Eating of Country

 

This old lady, she would walk with me, pointing out foods in the landscape… she never talked, she just pointed and waited for me to go and pick some of the plant. At first I felt a little uncomfortable, I mean I didn’t feel confident in what part of the plant to take because she never told me, she just pointed.

After a few of these walks together, I took my time and imagined the relationship that the old lady, this elder had with the plants already. I imagined the footprints and relationship that was already ahead of me, all the understandings that had been cultivated over time and I began to see. I could literally feel where to break the plant, how much to take of it and from where. I learnt how to approach the plant so that it could offer itself up as opposed to me hacking into it for my own wants and needs.

When I finally arrived to this, it was then and only then, that the Elder began to share more with me and she used words to do so. She began to show me modern ways of creating culinary delights infused with traditional foundations and bringing the worlds and timelines together. She was rather famous for this herself, I wasn’t aware of it at the time, just knew I loved spending time with her and walking country. It was her homelands and I was the visitor, so I felt a great sense of gratitude in my heart for the opportunity and the fact that she looked for me to spend time with her too.

All in all there wasn’t much talk to be honest, much gathering, much walking, much sensing yet not much talk. In this way, for me, each moment was rich with content and the experience landed deep. The learning was true.

As I ate of country, I also connected with the stories of the land. I would eat one food at a time, often leaving a leaf in my mouth for an hour or so to absorb the information it carries. If I ate of a fruit, the seed would be kept in my mouth almost all day. The transference occurs while not looking for it to.

To simply gobble something up in an instant never really counts for much other than filling the belly and leading you to curl up like a big old carpet snake and dream it all away!

In the landscape I’m living in at present, Warrigal Greens sing and grow here. It reminds me of the Elder as she showed me an awesome pesto to make, so I made one today with a few little twists of my own including other foods growing here also.

So here we have it, a delicious mostly native pesto from wild foods growing on the Island!

Warrigal Greens/wild spinach, Nasturtiums, Macadamia nuts, lemon myrtle with some Ozzie Olive oil and Italian parmesan cheese and a little sea salt!

Don’t ask me how much of everything because it’s pretty much a bit of this and some of that, those are my measurements! Most important is to feel good when your making it and be grateful that you can!

Make sure you blanch the Warrigal greens, it makes them lovely and soft and they give you what you need how your meant to have it, be sure to squeeze out the excess liquid so your pesto doesn’t become to moist.

Have fun!

I made a Kangaroo spaghetti bolognaise and had a large serving of the pesto to celebrate the dish!!

 

What foods are growing wild near you? And what do you like preparing with it? Feel welcome to share here.


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  • By Rachel Shields
  • Knowing In Nature 2017 (c)

 

The Dreaming of a fish

 

The waters are warmer now on the eastern coast, inviting both for the swimmer and the fisher person. Standing upon the jetty off the Island I can see many fish showing off their shimmering scales, especially in the light reflecting upon the water. A man attuned the river tells me that it takes 9 years for a Bream to reach legal size as a catch. I think, holy shit! I ask him how old he thinks the fish are that we can see swimming around by some burly that he has set earlier. “Well, those ones there look to be about ten to fifteen years old” he says. To my eye they are not very big at all. The fish we are looking at are Bream, apparently a slow growing fish. His line go tight and within a minute he pulls in a Flathead fish, looks to me and asks if I would like it for dinner, “Yes Please!!” but just as I accept the offer the flathead flicks itself free of the hook and melts into the rivers depths like it was never separate from it.

As the man keeps flicking his line about, I wonder as to the dreaming of each river fish. I appreciate that the man merely fishes for an activity and prefers to return most of his catch back to the waters. He is very attuned to the variety of fish, their growing and lack of due to over fishing by commercial fishing vessels. He speaks of how people has told him he is cruel for pulling fish out of the water and throwing them back, meanwhile he watches them buy fish from the shop that they have no connection with and have not actually earnt the right to eat by catching it themselves. I appreciate his words and position.

In the pause between conversations, I again wonder as to the dreaming of the fish here in this river. I wondered about their watery existence and lifespan. About the significance of each fish and its contribution to the greater eco system.

I know I enjoy eating fish, grew up catching them both in the rivers and on the ocean as a child travelling and living from the land and waters. I used to live off them almost entirely for a span of my life after leaving high school. I used my money to pay rent and bills, but I would go out every single day and catch a shark to use as bait in my pots for mud crab. Id Cast my net to catch prawns after the rains had flushed them out of the river down into the mouth, most often I would also catch a fish in my cast net! Id fish and fish and fish and climb coconut trees, gather banana leaves and ginger and make a big old feed with rice! That was pretty much my diet for a good time there.

In living like this, I knew the seasons, not the four seasons that are commonly recognised. I attuned to the many seasons reflected in the species and their rhythms. Even the body began to know what was coming and you would know what to take when you caught it and what not to. It was just a feeling.

One day when I walked out about waist deep into the ocean to check a crab pot, it was out in the run off from the mouth of the river (crocodile territory!) I got close to it to see a rather large shadow circling it, kinda made my bum cheeks clam up! But I found that it was a giant Groper keen on what I assumed was a juicy Mud crab in the pot. Slowly I edged my way in and lifted the pot to indeed see one of the largest mud crabs ever… hmmm, what to do what to do?!?! I told the Groper “Sorry, perhaps another day” and I walked further up the river with pot in hand and set the Grandfather crab free.

But here I am, in another landscape. There are no crocodiles here, yet there are bull sharks and other finned friends. In the area here there are stone carvings of fish, whales and sharks, indicators as to languages and to the seasons.

Everything has its dreaming time, its time of creating and growth. It’s not right to take of things all the time. These fish have a dreaming about, a spirit that may well just need to stay around to contribute a little longer to the greater scheme of things.

Spend time learning of these things and we can perhaps better encourage species to flourish.

So the Dreaming of the fish can continue to be part of our Dreaming.

 

By Rachel Shields

Knowing In Nature 2017

 

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Caring for Our Body as we care for Country

 

Throughout time, all across the planet Earth, groups of people were shaped by the landscape of which they lived, ate and drank of and created life in.

These landscapes were diverse. Mountain tops, to rivers and seas. From deserts to Icelandic harshness and jungles of density, all these environments both hot, cold, dry, wet to freshwater and salt water and all the meeting places in between have informed languages, created song lines, shaped our physiology and created Eco systems abundant in life forms, foods and animals that carry rhythms known to us as seasons.

In this current point in the human timeline, this is still presently reflected. By the accent in a person’s voice you will gain an insight as to where they have or may live, like a person from North Queensland usually says “AY” after everything they say and people from Adelaide usually sounds a bit British! (or articulate, hehe) You can pick someone from overseas by their accent and a person’s look is reflective of their original landscapes or heritage.

In earlier times, as we lived in relation to the landscape that sustained us, we were better in health than we are today. We were strong. In truth all landscapes have experienced the harshness that nature too can bring, yet humans adapted in accordance with this and over time developed ways of continually co-existing in balance. Maintaining the care for their landscape (or for Country) and in turn automatically caring for themselves. It just went hand in hand, it was a given. A science that was naturally lived ,through being deeply understood and abided by.

While this is all interesting, this point in time is reflective of much disharmony existing in humans’ physiology and psychology. Many people are not physically well within themselves, nor mentally well. Many do not use their entire body in the lifestyles they live. For many the landscape of which they now live, eat and drink of and of which they work, by no means assists with them Caring for themselves as they would care for Country. The custodian has become the consumer, yet in turn is now being consumed by that which they invest their attention and time towards!

For many we live in landscapes of urban build up, bombarded by billboards and advertising. The continual hum of progress and production fuelled by a wireless continuum that promises connection and up to date information.

Now think about that for a moment “IN – FORM – ATION” just like country shapes us, it affects our inner form, it created our language and our rhythms. We literally are shaped by our environment, both physically and psychologically. We are shaped by what we ingest and expose ourselves to, what we continually think about and are bombarded with from the outside in. Unless of course you are an extremely intact, strong in spirit connected human who is truly free!, for there are those who exist and it is possible to return to that.

Many are passionate about Caring for Country, caring for the environment and life outside of themselves yet are some of the most out of balance people with very needy and hurting bodies that they drag around with themselves. This doesn’t make sense, it just doesn’t add up. To better help you understand, part of why we had Welcome to Country in traditional times, was to make sure sickness of spirit and mind was not brought into the landscape from another who was not of that landscape. It was also to allow time for a person to begin to resonate in accordance with the environment they were wishing to enter into. For that landscape to recognise them and for that person or people to begin to recognise themselves in relation to what and where they were entering into. And also for the people to suss out who and what a person or peoples true intent is. It’s about responsibility with the life that exists both through us and our physiology and that of all life within and on the environment.

Our bodies are made of the same stuff as we find in nature; we are a composition of the many elements. Within us is history embodied in our unique DNA. Our body produces all the drugs we need and it is capable of keeping the balance! In true health, It does not require anything to be added to it.

We need to give it space to return this though, as it is shaped by the environment in which we expose ourselves most to.

Caring for country to me stands as equally important as caring for our body. The body is the landscape of which we reside 24/7. It is with us every step of the way, from conception to the end of our physical life. It is not an obedient pet that you can take for the occasional walk and give a piece of smacko to as a reward for its loyalty of love in return to your lack of attention and true care!

Caring for Country has a foundation of respect, caring for our bodies as our immediate country requires a foundation of respect. Cultivating a life with a foundation of self respect goes a long way in healing our relationship with the land, the animals and all the people in a way that shows thorough integrity; and through walking in this manner provides others with insight and steps toward seeing this as an option for a way of life.

It’s nothing new really, has just been put on the shelf while people run around writing books on how to get there, but it’s already right here! We are Country, Country is us…

How can we expect others to care for Country if we are not truly living the example ourselves?

  • By Rachel Shields

Knowing In Nature 2017