What I’ve Been Up To

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I haven’t posted in the past month because I was hard at work finishing my book, “Dandelion Hunter: Foraging the Urban Wilderness,” which will be out in April as both a paperback and an e-book. I am excited to say that I’ll be able to share my cover design with you very soon.

What is it about, you ask? “Dandelion Hunter” is a nonfiction narrative, an entertaining mix of memoir and journalism about my adventures foraging plants in Portland, Oregon, for survival, medicine and food, and how that changed the way I view Nature and the city itself. It gets into really interesting areas of archeology, botany, environmental psychology, toxicology, herbal medicine, philosophy, plant intelligence, and much more. One friend who read it so far called it “edu-taining.” Another said, “I knew you were a good writer, but I didn’t know you were that good.” It’s similar to this blog except that it’s more humorous and more sophisticated; I’d compare my style to that of authors Bill Bryson, Mary Roach, and John McPhee. I put 110% of my heart, mind and soul into it. Even though I am very proud of this website and all my other published essays and journalism, I have to tell you the truth: This book is the culmination of the best writing I’ve ever done, and it totally kicks my blog’s ass. You can become a Facebook fan of “Dandelion Hunter” and stay up to date on all the latest about it here.

After sending the manuscript to my publisher, I headed east to camp with some friends along the Crooked River, not far from Bend. I really like the high desert landscape. I got to see a magpie and an amazing blue heron, and my friend caught a rainbow trout, which he was very excited about. There wasn’t much in the way of botanical diversity, though, just juniper and sagebrush everywhere we looked. One would think this amounted to a dearth of foraging opportunities, but no, for there were M&Ms in the sand. And yes, I definitely ate them.

Back in Portland now I’ve been hiking plenty around here. Something I learned today: Do not go off the trail wearing short shorts because those Himalayan blackberry thorns will wrap around your ankles and your knees and f*ck you up fierce. At first you may think it’s only a few scratches and scrapes, but after a few hours you will be bloody and your legs will be stinging and you will then recognize the folly of believing a friend who claims to know where he is going while stinking of tequila and insisting that thimbleberry is salmonberry, that wood nettle is poison ivy, and that the poison oak you just brushed past is actually salal. (!!!) On the upside, I’ve now got a great opportunity to use the comfrey and cottonwood salves I made this year.

I’ll be offering fall classes soon, including some really cool wilderness area plant identification tours. Until then, you can catch me:
* Monday, Sept. 17, from noon to 2 p.m., giving a plant identification tour of southeast Portland for doTerra essential oils. $25 drop-in fee. Meet at 2734 SE 37th PDX OR 97202. No need to pre-register. Further details here.

I’ll be resuming regularly scheduled plant ID posts soon.

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