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The Perpetual Edge of 72 Seasons

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."-from Bluebeard’s Egg by Margaret Atwood

Where two ecosystems overlap is known as the “edge” or the “fringe” in permaculture. These areas, like wetlands and mangroves, edges of woods and meadows often have the most biodiversity and richness. The friction created by their differentness enhances their creative power. These are the liminal spaces where life transforms. The edge is also where human ecosystems and nature overlap - an urban park, suburbs meeting farmland, vineyards abutting meadows that then overlapping with the forest. Edges can be murky places of light and shade, shimmering with the possibility of new ecosystems forming. And it’s here that we can tap into our feral selves, even if just in small bursts like an evening walk. 


Along with these transitional regions, there are spaces or edges between our official seasons - spring, summer, fall and winter - that feel particularly rich with change and possibility. Foragers know that the transition times are the interesting ones. Watercress and Miner’s lettuce are appearing along the trail I take to find chanterelles. These fungi have stopped appearing, but I’ve found black trumpets in their place. Plum trees are starting to bloom, and fresh dates dangled in copious clumps from a palm tree.


People often complain that California doesn’t have seasons. I find this startling. So much happens between autumn porcini and spring morel season. Between wild salmon and Dungeness crab season. Japan has a traditional calendar and an alternative one based on the subtle shifts in nature. Originally adapted from the Chinese, it has 72 micro seasons, or 72 kō which are made up of 24 seasons each with 3 subsets. Their descriptors are based on the natural world, like “ice melts, hawks learn to fly, thick fog descends, rice ripens, deer shed antlers and hens start laying eggs”– we have just as many in California.


Our seasons could be gulls feasting on herring eggs, NW winds howling, wild lilacs blooming, morels appearing, streams get shallower, grass turns golden, fire season arrives, autumn rains, porcini appear. If we look at the year as 72 seasons, then we are living in the edge at all times. We dwell in a zone of perpetual creativity and change. This is how foraging wild foods can change you. Everyday, there’s something new. Madrone fruits are falling from the trees around the park out front. Miners lettuce and chickweed are sprouting. Cherry blossoms can be preserved with salt and ume vinegar and magnolia blossoms pickled, pine and fir tips are starting to appear and can be used in so many ways. Foraging is not just an activity or hobby, but a way of experiencing the world.


So join us on an upcoming experience – from our new Good Witch Camp to returning favorites like Full Moon Kayaking, Anchovy Olympics and Urban Foraging, to deeper dives into food and nature like Morel Weekend at Camp Earnest, learn about seaweed and spot prawns on Lummi Island, and salmon, oysters, berries and porcini in Alaska.

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