Coming back from work today, tired after a week of stretching the limits of what I am physically really able to able to, I realized that I needed to go out and pick something. Harvest.
Every summer I take Lilian with me and spend one whole month in Sweden. I was born and raised on the west coast of Sweden and it was only 14 years ago that I moved here, to Oakland, California. Being able to go back and visit is an absolute necessity for me. There is such a stark contrast between the life I live here and that month that we spend with family in the forest, in the ocean, on the smooth granite rocks or in the comfort of my moms house and garden, eating all of the edibitities that it has to offer!
One of my favorite things to do there is harvest. I find it to be extremely soothing, meditative and generally therapeutic. I'll harvest anything: blueberries, lingonberries, currants, chanterelles, porcini. I'll pull up potatoes or carrots, and I feel like the fumes I've been running on for the past few months are replaced with fresh, truly green and all around organic fuel.
So, I pick Lilian up from school and we go to see if there are still Elderberries out there to be picked. It turns out that still, late in October, elderberries are hanging from the branches of the Sambucus Mexicana - The Mexican Elderberry tree.
Mexican Elderberry grows everywhere in the Bay Area. Coming from Sweden I was used to ripe Elderberries being black and shiny, but the Mexican Elderberry has a light blue frosted appearance when fully ripe. And you do want to make sure you pick them ripe, if you intend to eat them. All of the parts of the elderberry trees are poisonous except for the flowers and the ripe berries. You will not die from eating unripe berries, but it might cause you a severe stomach ache.
Elderberries have a natural strong antiviral effect, among numerous other benefits. When the flu comes around this year, we are armed to the teeth! I store my elderberries away in the freezer, take them out as needed and make a delicious syrup out of them.