At the start of the river and through the Birches, hunting Chaga we go…
Just like many weekends past, I found my Subaru packed up with gear and high hopes for a day getting lost among the pines. Feeling a pull from the North, my tires peeled out of my dirt drive in the direction of more snow. Snowshoes in tow, I had made arrangements to meet up with a local hiking group at Itasca State Park near Bemidji. Surrounding myself with others who shared the true grit to get out in the cold weather brought me a sense of community that I’ve rarely felt in the past year. All wise beyond their years, stories flowed freely except mine seemed to perplex a few. See, I was out on a mission, I was seeking Chaga. A medicinal shelf fungus, only growing on Birch trees up North that is ground up and stewed into a tea. It’s said to do wonders for your immune system and is high in antioxidants, so why not hunt it, I asked myself. Hiking brings me peace of mind but I like for it to bring me a sense of purpose as well.
Straying from the group for my second hike of the day, I started at the headwaters of the Mississippi. The babbling brook seemed so meek and it seemed nearly impossible to fathom such a strong force down South starting from this meager little outlet. Power and strength is earned, it’s soothing to know that nature as to work for its great force too.
Alone, hiking with my hatchet, I couldn’t help but feel split between a sense pride for my purpose of 1)owning a hatchet and 2)having a reason and need to use it, and a sense of disbelief at how extremely out of touch I’ve become with city living. Next thing I know I’m shimmied up in a tree whacking away at this black tumor on this Birch. Bit by bit, pieces fell deep into the snow and I collected my prize. Now please pause to mentally picture this, then come back and ask yourself if you’d climb a tree for some mushroom that may or may not taste disgusting. This, this right here, is where I differ from many. I’m gaining confidence out here in woods to climb higher trees, venture deeper into the forests and learn new things; I’ll soon be wise and strong like the Mississipp’! Nature and I, our relationship is a two way street these days, giving purpose and providing care day in and day out.
Tea preparation postings to come soon.