Know Your Yard

Mycol Stevens smack dab in his element

     If you ever get the chance to go for a hike with mushroom and native plant guru Mycol Stevens, do it!** I was lucky enough to have the opportunity this past Saturday, taking part in his local mushroom and plant walk/info session in St. Augustine. 

     We dined on wildcrafted sautéed chicken of the woods mushrooms, muscadine grapes, passion fruit, ximenia, cattail, bidens alba and beauty berries. We sipped on cold brewed sumac tea. Those brave enough tasted saw palmetto berries--known to taste of old cheese steeped in tobacco water--and nibbled on reishi. For prostate health, saw palmetto is a great aid, so be lucky that stuff comes in easy to swallow capsules today!

     There's a Native American saying that the medicine we need grows right outside our front door. Our bodies call the plants and fungi to us and they kindly respond, taking root around our lives.  The importance of being able to recognize these allies is crucial. Otherwise, they go unnoticed and we spend precious resources like our time and money on drugs and doctors, when in certain instances, we can be proactive and help ourselves to prevent  and treat disease. 
     Take it one step further and these plant helpers can be labeled as weeds and nuisances getting squirted with carcinogenic herbicides like Roundup. In turn, we do, too. We are all part of a big web and if one part is being squirted with poison, it is only a matter of time before it trickles down into us. Fortunately, we are growing hip to this reality. I recently read that in the state of California, all bottles of Roundup can be returned to any carrier store for a full refund (without receipt) because of their now-acknowledged toxicity. Progress!

     Towards the end of the talk, as we stood around a patchwork space of green, Mycol got quiet. We observed the layers of life at our feet. A native metallic-green sweat bee dusted its legs on a flower, a tiny orange and black butterfly paused on a palm frond, we picked fragrant leaves and rubbed them between our fingers. We were sweaty and our minds were overflowing and we were in awe. Mycol told us that this is the kind of native life that gets sprayed along the sides of the highway. To really see it, to appreciate it, 
"you got to slow down," he said.

"It's good to be like a kid and slow down."

**For those of you who are interested, Mycol will be co-teaching an Ethnobotanical Intensive at The Hostel in The Forest, Oct. 6-8 2017. For more info, please visit: