Foraging Like a Graffiti Artist

In my travels, I see a lot of graffiti. One of the things I’ve noticed about graffiti is that the artists sometimes choose to leave their work in challenging locations, called heaven spots. Wikipedia describes it like this:

Heaven spots are pieces that are painted in hard-to-reach places such as rooftops and freeway signs, thus making them hard to remove. Such pieces, by the nature of the spot, often pose dangerous challenges to execute, but may increase an artist’s notoriety. This term also encompasses a double-meaning as the locations are often very dangerous to paint there and it may lead to death, thus, going to heaven (also known as “hitting up the heavens”).

As Thomas and I followed Elke along the coastline this afternoon, and listened to her description of the foraging activity she had planned for us, I was reminded of these graffiti artists. I wondered momentarily whether Elke had tired of our services. You see, we were collecting Newfoundland cranberries today, and cranberries only grow in remote, hard-to-reach locations.

“They only grow along the cliffs where it’s wet,” she explained as she descended a narrow, muddy trail that led down the side of the coastline.

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Just the descent was treacherous. There are no trees or shrubs to cling to, so you’re left with grasping any nearby grasses and praying they’re well anchored. As with all the foraging exploits we’ve been on so far, I began this one full of doubt but reliant on Elke, whose experience in all things foraging surpasses my craziest notions.

“They grow underneath, so you have to uncover them,” Elke told us.

Halfway down the trail, Elke pointed.

“Here,” she directed me. “Here are some berries. You see them?” And with that, she wandered off to another part of the coastline, leaving me to my own devices. I leaned tentatively to where she pointed. Seeing the berries, I suddenly realized I had tufts of long grass clasped firmly in one hand and a large plastic container tucked under my other arm. Picking cranberries with both hands occupied and my body clinging precariously to a nearly vertical descent was the next mystery I had to untangle. However, I knew that cranberries are one of my very favourite fruits, and I’m a pretty determined gal.

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How others manage this feat, I don’t know. Thomas got the hang of it before I did, but for  me it meant setting the plastic tub down in a rocky nook nearby, planting both feet against solid rock and keeping my centre of gravity low.

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The first five minutes were apprehensive, but I overcame that quickly when I realized how plentiful, how tart, and just how magical these cranberries were. They looked exactly like the cranberries I’ve been buying in plastic bags at the supermarket all these years!

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“We look like typical Newfoundlanders,” Elke commented on the way home. “Almost everyone around here goes out with a container on the weekend and collects berries,” she mused. With that comment my foraging heart felt terribly at home, even though the adventure involved a little of the old “risking life and limb” to accomplish our ends. We’d walked two minutes from the farm house, descended the magnificent but incredibly unforgiving cliff face, and foraged a most welcome Thanksgiving treat.

ah, Cranberry and Orange Loaf!
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
chopped walnuts
1 egg
grated orange rind
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup oil
1 cup cranberries
Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients separately, then add to dry ingredients.
Bake 45 – 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

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