My grandmothers are deceased but I still think of them often. As a matter of fact thinking of them prompted this post. I was sitting here nibbling on a handful of wild clover (Oxalis to be exact) and thought first of my maternal grandmother. I loved them equally yet they were as different as night and day.
It’s funny how certain things send us flying back in time where we awake to find ourselves strolling down memory lane.
My mom’s mother was somewhat prissy and constantly scolding me for eating wild things. If she didn’t know what it was I wasn’t allowed to eat it. “Mustang grapes and blackberries are okay but everything else is poisonous.” she warned. I didn’t care much for either and I generally ignored her warnings, tasting every berry and leaf I came across. It drove her to fits.
Once she threatened to tan my hide if I ate from the Black Persimmon tree behind the house. I of course did exactly that when she wasn’t looking. The soft shiny berries were too irresistible. To my surprise she wasn’t angry; I suppose she laughed so hard she made herself tired after seeing my lips and teeth stained black.
My paternal grandmother on the other hand would cook, can or consume just about anything that grew, moved or acted like it wanted to bite. (Yes, that one)
After I had settled down and started a family she would sometimes visit. We would walk through the woods in search of an undiscovered herb or animal. She’d scan the ground for changes and jab her cane in every hole until a rabbit ran out and she’d say, “Lookie there Jennavenay- there goes supper.” And we would laugh.
We ate a lot of wild vegetation throughout our years together. We didn’t know the benefit or threat or even the name of most of the wild plants but we learned to avoid the ones that tasted bad. Our walk always ended with her sitting by a large Oak and saying, “This is how I want to die. Like an old Indian I’m gonna set down against this tree and just pass away.” She wasn’t an Indian and that isn’t how she left this world. But that’s how it goes. Life, bittersweet like the Oxalis.