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Dining with Quail
Larry and I live on the edge of a rural area, a kind of borderland between suburbia and rural Sonoma county where all the farms and open spaces are. And so even though it is built with houses and a little town, there is still some habitat with native plants and animals around.
At this time of year, the big harvest in the natural habitat is blackberries. There are many stands of well-established wild blackberries, some of which are so tall and dense that a human cannot reach many of the berries. They are just magnificent.
We also have quail, just down the street from our house. We often see them as we are driving or walking.
The other day when we were taking a walk, Larry and I stopped at a glorious wall of blackberries about ten feet high. We picked and ate our fill and then turned around and began to walk back in the direction from which we had come, to go back home.
We spotted a whole flock of quail—big birds and little birds running across a lawn. Suddenly they all lifted up in unison and raced over to the blackberry bushes where we had just been. Clearly they had been watching us and waiting for us to leave so they could eat from the bountiful bushes too.
Larry and I loved the fact that we were “eating at the same table” as the little family of quail that live in our shared ecosystem.
Many years ago I lived in a cottage in the woods that had blackberry bushes in the front yard. When the blackberries were in season, I would just go out my front door with a bowl, pick the ripe berries and put them in the bowl, then take them inside and pour cream all over them. I even later purchased an English pottery bowl painted with blackberries to be my special blackberry bowl.
For me, blackberries are a special food that grows wild where I live and connects me with the land. When I eat native wild blackberries I am participating directly in the ecosystem, as it is at that moment in time in that place.
It’s a completely different experience of food. I love it!