Outdoor Diary: Finding a Taste of Gratitude Outside With This Sense

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Episode 318 Humans outside outdoor diary

How does your connection to nature change when you focus on experiencing it through each of your five senses? With the chance to literally taste the outdoors at every turn, I leaned into the gifts of the land and explored how experiencing nature through my mouth (and stomach) makes me feel.

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Some of the good stuff:

[:40] The best senses intentions

[1:08] It was a deliciousness emergency

[1:28] A delicious pit stop

[2:31] Blueberries in all the places

[2:40] Even more berries and even more deliciousness

[3:15] Wherein someone else feeds me and I hit my limit

[3:48] And

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of Humans Outside.

Inspired by a podcast episode I did with New York Times best selling author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, about her new book The Five Senses, I’ve been spending my outdoor time thinking about and noticing what happens outside when I focus specifically on one of my five sense. First I leaned into the sense of sight. And I told you that next for me would be hearing.

But nope, change of plans. Next was taste — and this is why: nature was simply too delicious this week to ignore. The sense of hearing will wait.

I really had good intentions to notice what I heard and I was noticing it. But the deliciousness was facing me in so many places that I simply couldn’t ignore it.

Here’s what happened: I dropped one son at the final summer camp of the year, and the other son and I headed out for an adventure north, towards Denali state and National Parks. We started our trip camping outside Talkeetna, then riding mountain bikes on a 5k trail around a lake. Rooty and rolling, it was an adventurous since we don’t spend that much time mountain biking. On one incline Huck’s waterbottle popped out of his holder, and when I came up the hill after him I saw it on the ground. Dropping off my bike, I stopped to pick it up. And as I did so I glanced at the bushes off the trail.

And what did I see but wild blueberries upon blueberries, ready to eat.

I hollered to Huck to come back, since I knew he was probably waiting down trail, emptied a water bottle to create a picking container and went to work popping blues into the bottle and, let’s be honest, my mouth. It was the best surprise biking break. After picking for awhile, we started biking again, only to notice more berries and take another break. They tasted tart but sweet, perfectly ripe and a gift to us from that trail. The next morning we ate them in pancakes outside the van. It was perfect.

Later in the week during a hike and run down, we once again found blueberries, once again emptied a waterbottle and restocked our supply for more pancakes and more snacking. I felt so grateful for this sweet, refreshing taste there for me to offer a break from running and fuel for later.

Then, when we came home, a neighbor asked for help harvesting his wild strawberries. Again, sweet and warm berries filled our containers. I was struck by just how rich the earth is right now during this season of foraging and harvest. I felt gratitude for what nature gives us if we take the time to harvest it. And as it took me what felt like a year to bring in a quart of berries — they’re not very big — I felt grateful for the people who grow our food that we eat every day.

And then there was my visit to the farm stand, which is tucked directly next to the fields form which they do their growing and harvest. I asked to buy chard, and the farmer tromped into the field right then and there and lobbed me off my purchase. It’s sweet and crunchy, perfect sauteed with breakfast.

And while it wasn’t this week that I brought it in, it has been a regular meal — salmon. During our vacation a few weeks ago Huck and I went on a fishing charter, learning how to floss for salmon, bringing in our limit and taking home a large quantity. Every time I thaw and cook it — I like to eat it as sushi and the boys eat it grilled — I remember the experience of being there and pulling it in.

You’ve heard me say “gratitude” a few times here, and I think that’s really the connection foraging and tasting outside gave me: gratitude. While my sense of sight made me feel invigorated and inspired, my sense of taste has me feeling deeply grateful for my relationship with this land. That if I take care of it — WE take care of it — the reward is that we get to work it for food. And that’s a gift.

Maybe I’ll try again on hearing this week. Meanwhile you can see photos of all of my outdoor time, including the adventure with Huck and my strawberry labors, on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. Share your adventures with me with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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