I haven't been foraging for long - not as an adult anyway. My mother tells me that when I was three, I ate a pansy out of someone's garden. And in my tweens I developed an obsession with herbalism.
I spent hours in the kitchen boiling, steeping, and pulverising unholy-smelling concoctions of foraged plants. Even more alarming for my mother, I imagine, were the times when she found my little sister lying helplessly across two kitchen chairs, and me standing over her, smearing my concoctions all over her face and hair. (It was all in the name of health and beauty, I protested.)
Vanessa, my oldest childhood friend, may still have nightmares about the birthday present I gave her of home-made perfume. It was memorable not for its fragrance, but for the enormous lump of blue mould that emerged from the bottle and landed on her wrist when she went to try it.
Those first efforts at foraging were a long time ago. Not until I became a mother did I feel the pull again to do it. Actually, it was my son who re-inspired me.
When he was small he had no interest in broccoli or cauliflower, but take him for a walk in the park and he would eat wild fennel and nasturtium leaves by the fistful. Now older, he eats supermarket brassicas happily, but he's held onto his fascination with wild food.
One of his favourite recipe books is 'Go Wild!'- the official book of the Monteith's Beer and Wild Food Challenge. We've also amassed an impressive collection of books about eating bugs. (That's perhaps another post.)
Wouldn't I just love to take him to the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, for his birthday next year! I think his younger sister would enjoy that too. She certainly seems to be exhibiting the same feral tastes in greens as he did at her age.
And you know - I'm pretty sure my offspring are not alone in this. A lot of children seem to be natural foragers.
Rediscovering this pastime - at nearly 40 years old - has for me been exhilarating. Like rediscovering a long-lost part of childhood.