Sometimes, you have to break your own rules. Rules, after all, are meant to be guidelines to keep us on th' right path, not chains forged against our own free will. And one of my rules i broke was digging up the only specimen of a sought after plant. Wild Horseradish. There's others growing around town, but this solitary horseradish simply had to go. Why? It's all in th' name of progress you see.
I had this idea a few years ago- pick a spot of nature undisturbed, be it however small, and simply watch it. Observe it's life. Plants, animals, bugs, weather... get to know it. After a while it will become like a friend- there will be things you immediately like, some things you may not like, and things that can only reveal themselves over time. So it was with this horseradish plant. It grew on the edge of an abandoned orchard... th' one i wrote about in th' preserving apples post. I've been watching the orchard for almost ten years now, and i just discovered this little beauty a few years ago. Horseradish likes to grow in colonies, so i'm not sure how this one got here, but one day there it was, with no kin anywhere that i could discern.
But alas, someone has decided, once again, that's it's more important to have concrete and tar and plastic and automobiles here than a bit of wilderness. I wonder how long we can keep this up.
So i got in there and dug up my ole friend th' horse. I knew there was going to be a sacrifice here, and i wanted my killing this plant to be worth something. So we waited till Passover, and i went out and harvested this for th' horseradish bit. It was very special, and we got to share it with our family in a close, intimate setting. As i was riding my bike to th' harvest, i kept thinking of a line in a Wendell Berry book i read many years ago...“To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration. In such desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want.”
I arrived at th' scene of th' crime, it's early spring and i knew th' leaves would be very small, if they had grown at all. I walked amongst th' dew, th' smell of plum blossoms, musk mustard, dandelion, and apple blossoms. I searched and searched, and then!
|Musk Mustard Blossoms|
|Dandelion, perfect conditions for harvesting leaves|
|Dead Horseradish leaves|
|Young Horseradish leaves|
I grabbed a fallen plum branch and proceeded to dig. Slowly, all th' way around th' root, careful not to harm it. Deeper. Deeper. Alternating between hands and stick. Th' smell of th' young earth and th' taste of th' fresh leaves in my mouth.
|delicious wild horseradish|
I was careful to leave th' place looking exactly like i'd found it. No one will ever know i was here.
(except you of course)
|aint nobody been here|
I wanted to leave a bit of tobacco here as a thank offering- i had no tobacco, so i left a dandelion. A sacred herb in it's own right.
Back home i delivered th' sacrificial lamb up to Beth for processing. She cleaned it. Grated it. Mixed it with a small amount of apple cider vinegar to preserve it's spice, it's essence, it's life.
|grated wild horseradish root|
|passover table in waiting|