On Thursday we joined our homeschooling group for a walk along the Kern River to explore our local plant life.
Our guide was a longtime local resident who grew up learning how to live off this land, and who now knows the names and uses of more than 3,000 native plants. Lonewolf is a Native himself, and he is passionate about passing on everything he knows to Native Americans and non-Native alike.
plantago major, sometimes called White Man's Foot, because it was brought to this continent on the feet of Europeans. Both edible and medicinal, it was often used on battlefields as a wound healer.
stinging nettle. We discovered mallow, yarrow and milkweed.
We ate the flowers of a plant that tastes like fresh broccoli. We sniffed a plant that smells like body odor -- and then breathed in the honey-like scent of a locust tree.
We learned how people used to brush their teeth with the ends of horsetail, which grows in the moist soil along rivers.
(If you ever have trouble getting your kids to brush their teeth, take them to the park and let them pick horsetail. Suddenly brushing your teeth is the coolest thing ever!)
The one above is called bedstraw (galium aparine), because it was used to fill mattresses. Lonewolf said it also cushioned Baby Jesus in the manger!
After our walk, and a break for lunch, we sat down to admire Lonewolf's handmade tools, and learn some wilderness skills.
He showed us three different ways to start a fire -- and did it in less than 30 seconds!
He carved his many bows with only his Swiss army knife.
Many of his arrows were sharpened out of found metals.
He also demonstrated a spear-throwing tool that could put a hole in a car door!
On Friday we went to our natural foods store... and noticed a shelf full of the seeds of one of the plants Lonewolf talked about.
He said you could eat a handful of these seeds and it would be all the food you needed for a whole day. Maybe you've heard of chia?
This was definitely one of the best field trips we've ever been blessed to participate in. Thank you, Lonewolf! (And his assistants, Red Sky and Whitefeather!)