Postcard 7: Into our very bones

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I love the notion of the nutrients and minerals of this place are becoming a part of our very bones.

Our bodies are quietly growing blood and muscle and tissue from this very land, building us of this place before we leave for familiar soil once more.

By foraging, we’re taking Ireland–and Iceland before it–into our bodies where it will linger for so much longer than the sweet or sour or bitter taste on our tongues, weaving its essence into our cells through the magical dance of biology.

We’ll carry it with us for years. This place, in our own bones.

Since departing the Midwest in late August, we have foraged and consumed (and thereby made a part of us) crow berries, lady’s mantle, meadowseet, haddock, cod, kelp, bilberries, blackberries, blackberry leaf, elderberries, rose hips, rowan berries, old friends plantain, yarrow, nettle, and usnea; ripe rose hips and hawthorn and more.

From this free, found bounty, we’ve cooked up jams and teas; healing poultices and nourishing broths.

We’ve also consumed locally grown Icelandic thyme and moss, eaten fermented shark and sipped sweet raw milk; picked and munched fresh Irish apples, and purchased local chicken, beef, lamb, produce, and bread.

This place lives in us now. It’s a part of us.

We’ve fermented beet kvass and sauerkraut from fresh local veggies to add to our evening meals, and the sourdough starter that I have fermenting, is (in my mind at least) is laced with peat smoke and woven with yeast blown in on sea winds and bog rains.

All of this we bring home, even weeks after each meal was consumed.

But our favorite foraging of the trip is neither animal nor vegetable. It is mineral.

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Before arriving in Iceland at the very start of our trip, Sage expressed an interest in crafting a batch of sea salt. Our Icelandic friends were happy to oblige. In the Westfjords, Pete and Sage gathered sea water using our friend’s boat, from the deep cold water of the fjord. Then we cooked it down in a roasting pan until the water was evaporated, finishing it in a dish in a warm oven.

What a delightful process it was! And the salt is delicious.

In Ireland I was excited to give it a second go, with hope of brining home two distinct salts from two different places, two different currents in the Ocean herself. And so we did. Off the western coast of Ireland, we headed back to the sea.

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This water had to be gathered without the aid of a boat, off of the furthest reaches of Dingle Peninsula. Lupine–always game for a spontaneous swim–braved the sea to fill a couple of empty milk bottles, which we brought back to our temporary home to cook down in a nonreactive pan.

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We didn’t make much, but just enough to fill a small, empty jam jar with the precious white flakes.

The resulting salt is rich, bright, and full of memories.

And the perfect souvenir from this journey overseas.

Through the months that follow, as we slowly use these two precious jars of salt in our soups and sautees, in fresh local veggies from our home across the sea, we’ll recall our journey here, and replenish these fare sourced minerals… deep into our bones.

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