"In wildness is the preservation of the world." -H.D. Thoreau

Why eat from the wild? The answer is obvious to anyone who has felt the emotional uplift from the weight of a basket brimming with morel mushrooms, the earthy-sweet scent of digging Sassafras roots, or the heavy pulsing of a fish testing the limits of your fly rod.
There are a million reasons to eat wild, to get dirty, to taste fresh food. It is here where we connect to the Earth, our Ancestral past, immediate present and hope for a healthy future...

"Nothing else can build such awareness as surely and powerfully as practicing the ancient ecological art of humankind - foraging. It is not observation of, but rather participation in the phenomena of Nature that brings us to our greatest understanding of our place in the mosaic of life."
-Samuel Thayer The Forager's Harvest

Foraging in the Tip of the Mitten!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sacred Springs: Wild Water!

Springs are my favorite natural feature and always have been - even before I'd ever found one. When I did I was eleven and was going on a solo hike while winter camping with the local scout group. I couldn't believe my good fortune to see water bubbling forth from the underworld and quickly ran back to tell the others... who didn't give a crap. At all. What a let down.

I went back just last winter to try and find it again, this time on a hike with my grandma and mom. Twenty years have passed and yet the memory was as fresh as the water. Off the trail, through the brambles, down the hill past the old oak and through the hop-hornbeam thicket. There, at the root of a few scrub willows, flowed my spring. It was much nicer to be there with people who actually appreciated it.

Inspired by my book Sacred Waters: Holy Wells and Water Lore in Britain and Ireland by Janet and Colin Bord, I've decided to try and document local water sources, springs and artesian wells. After looking a bit online, I found that folks are already doing just that! : www.Findaspring.com. How wonderful.

If you enjoy folklore and appreciate clean water, you totally should check out this book.


It's full of strange tales, both fun and frolicsome and darkly foreboding. When I lived in England for a summer as a teenager we'd frequent a spot called Alderley Edge where it was said that Merlin, the great wizard of Arthurian legend, was still residing in a cave only to emerge in England's most dire moment. We'd go to the overlook and stare out at the patchworked landscape and then hike back to the parking lot. But, had we known of this book, we'd have found that if we walked down a trail to the left of the overlook, through the dark beech forest, we'd find a spring bubbling up inside a small rock outcropping at the base of a small cliff rock. Upon the rock is carved a bearded face, and underneath the inscription: "Drink of this and take thy fill for the water falls by the Wizard's will."

I was once told by someone that my love of springs is because I'm Irish, but I know that it is because I'm human. Water worship, ceremony, superstition and reverence toward springs has certainly held out in Ireland to this day, with many springs used for healing, wishing, and pilgrimage. A great photo journey into this aspect of Irish culture can be found in the book Fish Stone Water: Holy Wells of Ireland by Anna Rackard and Liam O'Callaghan. But clean, fresh, raw, unprocessed water is the foundation of all our existence. We should regularly go pay respects and drink from the source of life: Springs. So I'm gonna start with the closest artesian well I know of to my location: The Whiting Mineral Spring.

The Whiting Mineral Spring is located at Whiting's Park along Lake Charlevoix, near Advance, Michigan. The water is earthy, smooth, clear and full of minerals.

My cup was a gift from my mom and grandma for my last birthday. It is a traditional and antique "kuksa" cup of the Saami people, a reindeer herding culture of Scandinavia and (I'm told) the last "white" traditional hunter-gatherer community. These cups were carved from birch burls, kept on their belts and used to dip from springs. This one has something written on the handle in a language I can't identify, with the date 1914.

We will be updating our "Sacred Springs" gazeteer-of-sorts whenever we find and visit a spring in hopes of connecting folks with wild and free flowing water directly from the landscape. Please feel free to locate and direct others to springs you may know of or find in your travels. Thanks!

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