I went out to gather batch # 0319 near Searchmont on March 29th and 30th, for four hours on both days. It was the time of year when walking in the bush takes a whole lot more energy than it usually does. We tend to avoid wildcrafting during the spring melt because it’s just too hard to make good ground and there are potential opportunities for injury hidden everywhere beneath the soggy snow. However last winter, Braidy and I were living totally different lives than usual and before we knew it, the melt had already begun. We were living and working in Searchmont, a small ski community near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The ski hill is always a lot of fun but it is a far cry from the quiet solitude that I am used to and cherish greatly. Participating in the 9-5 lifestyle along with constant socializing during and after work had left me fresh out of energy and yearning for some alone time.
I headed out on a snowmachine trail that eventually makes its way to Wawa and along the way, provides some lovely views of the Goulais River valley. With every other step, my snowshoe sank right through the melting snow and although it was raining, I began to sweat almost immediately with the effort of it. I didn’t cover much distance in 4 hours but I did swear a lot while continuously pulling myself out of the waist deep snow. Although I was surrounded by yellow birches and wetlands, which is prime Chaga country, I called it quits with an empty backpack.
The following day I went out again despite the heavier rain and warmer temperature. I was feeling much more balanced as I acknowledged my gratitude for the regenerative time alone with the forest. My first stop was at the ice falls that had provided me with solitude and had served as my “reboot chamber” throughout the winter. After taking a few moments to honour the place that had given me peace and renewal, I moved onward. With a growing determination and a clear intention to follow the natural flow, I tuned out the chatter in my mind and instead, tuned in to all the living beauty surrounding me. Focused fully on listening, observing and carefully placing each foot, I quickly discovered an abundance of Chaga within arm’s reach. In the same amount of time as the previous day, covering the same amount of distance, I emerged from the trail with a fully loaded backpack and two big bags in hand totalling 30lbs of Chaga. What a marvelous array of Chaga conks on this beautiful white birch!
Time and time again, I learn this simple lesson in beautifully different ways. When I am fully present and grounded in gratitude, I am able to connect with an ancient, infinite wisdom that flows freely in and around us all. It’s really amazing how quickly just ‘being’ in nature instantly recalibrates our energies and reconnects us to a web of consciousness; the common thread that weaves us together with every living thing. In this space, the lines that seemingly separate our selves from our natural environment and from one another, fade away as we grow another step closer to realizing our full potential as powerful components of a whole network of living knowledge.
In retrospect, it’s always easier to see the greater value inherent in some experiences that at first glance, seem superficial. Although it was hard for me to give up my solitude last winter, this particular journey outside of my comfort zone led me to a wealth of meaningful relationships and opportunities to join together with like-minded people. A cluster of new and old ideas are woven together by a vision, inciting a deep-seated desire to become a part of a collaborative effort to facilitate natural connections.
Chaga batch #0319, dressed in our new 100% compostable packaging is now available on Manitoulin Marketplace and in store at the Island Jar in Little Current!