Sunday, October 10, 2010

Time to Forage in a Busy World

Foraging and teaching are incompatible.

On a typical day my alarm sound in the pre-dawn dark at 5:30. I wolf down my breakfast to be at school, three towns away, by 6:30. I scramble to get my materials together for the day's lab. The kids arrive just as I finish. I put on my game face, share my enthsiasm, push kids to do their best even when they don't want to, keep the peace, settle disputes, celebrate successes, commiserate with heartbreaks, make them organize their binders when they look like the the sweepings from the floor of the Wall Street Stock Exchange, meet with colleagues to make sure this one has new glasses and that one gets counseling for the messy divorce. Most days I only have time to eat half of my lunch. I am at school until 4:30 or 5:00 organizing the papers and emails that have settled on my desk like the ashes after a bonfire. When I drive home, I turn off the radio because the quiet is precious and sweet. I walk in the door to the explosion of toys left Baby Yub-Yub who is hardly a baby anymore. Ooga gives me a frazzled smile, and, bless her, she has dinner ready. I play with my daughter for half and hour and look for moments of connection with my wife between my daughter's calls of delight and tantrums of dismay. We start sentences, save Yub-Yub from falling of the couch, finish the sentence, bandage her cat scratches . . . What was I saying? My wife wages a losing battle against chaos in the house while I open the computer to plan the next day and grade quizzes until we stumble into bed.

My mother who is a librarian in Connecticut tells me that she overhears patrons complain about overpaid teachers who only work six hours a day and then get their summers off. I wonder what teachers they are talking about.

I'm not writing this only (but I will admit partially) for catharsis. It is worth saying that foraging takes time. Unless I quit my job or decide to stop caring about doing it well, I will have very little during the school year--especially September. Surely there must be other would be foragers out there who are stymied by the same obstacle. Are there other foraging teachers out there? It is a cruel irony that this foraging family's busiest time, the season that we have the least opportunity to forage, is the heart of the harvest season. Foraging is a full-time job. Teaching is two. Something had to give. Please forgive us for not posting this past month.

Are there other foragers out there who are struggling to make wild food fit into crazy lives? How do you manage? We'd love your advice. . . and camaraderie.


  1. As a fellow teacher, I hear your dilemma. Especially these first couple of months in the classrooms, it is near impossible to do ANYTHING else save lie in a comatose state with all excess noise turned off!!
    Congratulations on your effort and commitment to both your work and your life.

  2. Keep fighting the good fight. I don't have any answers for you- and I wish I did. Know that there are those of us on our own food journeys in NE Ohio cheering you on! We are also struggling with how early it gets dark. It makes so much of our outdoor living difficult! Hugs and Love to you! S&A&S!

  3. Would you be teaching science if you didn't have a passion for the land and it's organisms? Maybe next year you won't pursue a specific foraging goal, but you will still gather and eat what the land has to offer whenever you can, and share them with Yub Yub and your fans online. Thanks for doing this.