With the click of the camera a beautiful sunset is photographed. Now two things can happen. Or the beauty of the sunset is captured magnificently; vibrant colors, a little lens flare to make the picture feel alive and of course the most stunning view from the top of a mountain. Or on the other side, the picture just can’t seem to capture the beauty and vibe of the moment. They say a picture is worth more then 1000 words. So let me write you a story of 1001 words to paint a beautiful picture of a 10 second scene in your mind.
My hands are still freezing from the wet, damp night. The nearby river roars wild while I stir in the blackened pot, mashing red goo with my aluminum spork. Dark green trees are surrounding us, some of their leaves turning brown to predict the coming of autumn. The second night was hard for me. Marin felt quite good when she woke up after the long night; maybe she got used to the emptiness in her stomach easier then me. Maybe her mind was more relaxed. Maybe I was getting sick.
Normally I don’t get cold in my sleeping bag, but this night was different. I was so hungry I couldn’t fall asleep and the light of the morning didn’t bring the warm layer it normally brings. Finally I got up and out of my little green tent. I crossed the river over the crackling wooden bridge and went over to Marin. She was already making our breakfast of gathered autumn fruits. Apples, elderberries and sorrel leaves made our breakfast; we only ate from nature this three days.
Filled with anticipation I stir the red apple soup. It’s getting thick and that is exactly what we need to get warm. With all my jackets on I try to keep the little warmt that my body produces close to me. It doesn’t help. There is no fuel to let the engine roar, Marin her engine runs on fumes as well. Heat is radiating from the cookingpot and I feel how my right hand absorbs the warmth. With the prospect of this warm sludge in my stomach the world looks a little brighter. I see sunrays fall over the treetops and hear a bird singing his early morning song over the constant sound of a roaring river. Is our breakfast ready yet? Are the apples mushy enough? Should it all cook a little longer? Whatever. Ready. Breakfast is served.
With grace (I try not to look like a hungry savage) I scoop a spoon full of mushy apple and elderberry and direct it towards my mouth. As a child I’ve learnt not to eat boiling things. I need to have patience. The smell of warm food enters my nostrils; sour apples from a tree we found in a garden the evening before. Freshly picked 12 hours ago but not ready to eat yet. Made our faces twitch with every little bite we took from them earlier. The smell of the elderberries; a little godsend we discovered next to a farmersfield.
The first bite of our little hot brew is magnificent. I close my eyes and let all sensations tingle through my body. The heat, the sour taste and the structure. But best of all, our energy we put in it. We have been hiking for two days now, only eating what we can forage. When we started we rode on the tail of a howling storm. It took us some planning to get together for this trip and a triviality like a howling, blasting storm wouldn’t stop us from making this journey. This storm was the transition between summer and autumn. The days were growing shorter as the temperatures droped little by little every day and fruit became scarce. This also was our problem; we were in between seasons. The summerfruits were gone or overripe and the nuts of autumn where not ripe yet. We relied on tiny apples we found in gardens on the edge of villages. There we hunted for edibles. Parsley growing from a flowerbox next to a restaurant. Flowers hanging from a low roof. Grapes from a monastery. Outside the villages we found overly ripe blackberries. We eat them by the hand full but they give us just a little taste in our mouths. Now and then we come across edible mushrooms we both know. Others we leave in the ground. The green and pink Springbalm is my favorite. Colorful, funny and tasty.
I swallow the warm breakfast and with my eyes closed I feel how the cold nights and tail of the storm is being washed away by the hot food. It’s like an explosion in my stomach where the heat spreads to my whole body. All of a sudden I feel muscles relax in my face while the corners of my mouth go up. A smile appears on my face. A smile brought by hot food in cold times. In stormy times.
It was the first official autumn storm and we were out, walking and gathering our foods. Gray weather and wind was upon us that early morning when we took our first steps on the “Eifelsteig” trail. The next 48 hours we would endure heavy rains, damp nights and a constant blowing wind. It was easy to bail out and go to a hotel, bed and breakfast or see if we could couchsurf somewhere. This weather adds to the adventure. It’s easier to stay warm when the sun is franticly shining and we would need less calories. But now our clothes were wet, the ground was wet and water was pouring from the sky at times. It made the journey speak more for itself; if we could keep a positive mental attitude in these conditions, we could also have this when the sun would be warming us and everything around us. On our very last day the sun was shining and we even had a little sunshine nap next to a busy road.
When I open my eyes I feel like I’ve been reborn; waves of warm energy are flowing through my body. The ignition of my mind has been fired up. I can think again and I can see clearly, now the mist has gone. I feel alive. Just one little spoon full of warm, foraged food can do so much. I look Marin in her eyes: “care for a bite?” I ask her. She scoops up from the blackened pot, takes a bite and closes her eyes. I know what she is going through now.
This scene happened during our Taste the Trail project. Here you can read about it and here is part 2.
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