Spring time. Sea glass

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21st, 2013 by Kacie — Comments Off

 

I had a thought standing outside a bookstore after work today. The store is called Sagrada, it contains books from all different pools of spirituality and religion. The thought I had was; “Everything beyond our direct experience is extra.” Swimming in the ocean of our lives, it’s just us and the water and everything that floats by is extra. Some things slip away and we hold onto other things for a long long time. Ideas, people, possessions. I am slowly learning to stay in the moment, to question belief systems and listen to my inner voice. For example a friend of mine saw my eyes brighten up and my voice change tone when I explained to him that I love to sing and that I haven’t been singing much, singing makes my soul expand. When someone tells you that they experienced you coming alive, a radiant moment, this is an important message. When it comes down to it I am feeling that life is about how we interface with it in the moment and a flow happens when we follow our own inner wisdom. Each experience brings something different and an opportunity to learn something new. When we try to make life fit a mold, than there is bound to be a struggle. Life changes dramatically from moment to moment just as the ocean waters flow and the air circulates around us, so why do we try so hard to make our lives work according to planned? I think that all of the “extra” stuff that we learn and collect are tools and that there isn’t always a right tool for the job as there are not exact dimensions to life.

My experience from moving around, and harvesting seaweed each spring and summer is shaping me like a piece of sea glass. I am not living my life as if I were cut and manufactured in such a way that I fit like a mechanism into a robotic system or someone else’s design. I land gently onto the shore.

During these recent sunny days spring has arrived, and I feel spring and smile and welcome spring back because it has so much to share with us. Spring wakes up the sleeping parts of us. Lately I’ve been feeling my sluggish winter trodden body in a more exaggerated way. I’ve been wondering, “Where do I go to get dandelion root, I’m lost here in the city, where do I find the plants I need?” The other day I helped my friend Paba and her Amma unload some beekeeping supplies they salvaged from our friend’s workplace. As we set them down onto the damp earth I began to see two three four dandelion plants. I would have tea later in the day after digging, cleaning and chopping the roots and leaves. Simmering dandelion root with kombu, and steeping nettles leaves in the broth makes a nourishing and rejuvenating spring tea. This medicine is bringing me back to life more than any of the supplements, tinctures or herbal formulas I’ve purchased from the health food store. Spring is awakening a part of me that is like an old friend that I have not seen in months. And soon we will be taking another trip together, this time back to Maine, to learn more through each moment alternating from movement, work, momentum, gathering, responding to quiet, thoughtful stillness.

 

A handful of seaweed…

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10th, 2012 by Kacie — Comments Off

Taging along on Kirk’s sea forage tour in Half Moon Bay, CA

As I sit down to a bowl of oats, steel cut with pomegranate, coconut oil and cinnamon I write because it’s time to share. It’s a good time to put a few words out there on my “blog” to you people who check up on the seaweed wanderer and her feelings and simple adventures. Seaweed selling is going well… I will soon sell out and then I will have a few months seaweed free perhaps clearing the slate welcoming a different focus for the winter and early spring. I love it when I find boxes to ship the seaweed in, and then the orders that fit perfectly in those boxes come along. What does that say? How do we create space and containers for what we wish to come into our lives? I’ve been meditating a tiny bit. I remember one time at an acupuncture session in Gouldsboro Maine the man who was doing my intake and session suggested that I meditate to create more space in my mind- to help to alleviate all of the pent up and disorderly thoughts and worries pig piling in my brain. I always thought that was wise advice. Meditation is a gift we can give ourselves, it is the holiday season after all, when in our busy lives we find little time for many of the things we would love to get around to. But there are other ways to create space in our lives as well and I offer you the opportunity to get creative in what types of vessels you would like to open and the mystery of what might fill them. These are the gifts.

This morning I opened an email from a farmer in New York recounting her experience and appreciation for her box of seaweed, it reads

“Receiving your beautifully harvested seaweed – was like opening the best x-mas present! Before I even got through opening the box entirely, I got delicious wafts of the salty ocean air. It took every thread of my being, not to sit and slowly devour handfuls of the buttery Dulse leaves. The Wakame and Sea Palm are equally as delicious. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your talents, and a special thank you for our good earth. I look forward to making many delicious recipes, sharing with friends and family, and reordering!”

Yum!

I have been just busy enough selling seaweed. I sold at the New Taste Marketplace market in San Francisco, I’ve been shipping a few orders here and there, last night I even met up with a woman at a local pub who wants to eat seaweed to nourish her thyroid. I am not a doctor and I can’t say that I know a whole lot about prescribing certain amounts of seaweed appropriate for healing. So, I resorted to the “handful” approach. Eat seaweed every day. Too much? A handful is not too much. A handful to me mean about a quarter of an ounce or a bit more if you are so enthusiastic. I recommended a miso soup with a handful of soup mix daily, or every other day, and a handful of dulse or Bullwhip kelp to snack on in between. See how you feel from there. Oh and make sure you keep the pot of soup covered. Just like you’re making an herbal tea when you don’t want to loose the healing oils, with seaweed you don’t want the iodine to escape in the steam.

The gift I am giving myself today is going for a walk in the hills. It’s been weeks since I’ve had a fill of nature and this is problematic for this small creature. I need minerals not only in my food but in the air I breathe and under my feet! I am not made of cement, car exhaust and the electric hum of the city.

A Larger Settling

Posted in Uncategorized on November 13th, 2012 by Kacie — Comments Off

 

I move around a lot. I just returned to Oakland, Ca after four months on the East Coast and now I am letting the grains of sand and soil I’ve spun up over the summer settle and sink in. It feels like things are moving so quickly and it is unsettling in a time best reserved for slowing down and preparing to hibernate for a bit. Maybe that’s just it- I am scurrying in preparation for a larger settling. Is anyone else out there feeling that energy?

I am not sure what the settling will look like. When I was in Asheville, NC in September I had a feeling that it could be a good place to take root. Today as I take the time to fill a seaweed order for a small cooperative grocery store in Providence, RI I feel a pull back East. I spent a good chunk of time back East this summer because I was asking the universe a big question; “Should I continue to seaweed harvest and if so where? Or should I take time off to grow in other areas?” The universe continues to place me in extraordinary and challenging, yet beautiful and bountiful circumstances. Mixed in with moments of feeling out of place and at a loss, I also receive a good amount of reassuring feedback mixed with new ideas feeding the momentum of my trajectory. Continuing with my Atlantic seaweed endeavor feels worthwhile and I am curious to see what shape it takes next season.

So here I am in California for a third round. Good friends, a heap of dried seaweed to sell, a little job at a café to pay the bills and a vast ocean to bow to. It’s not harvest season for seaweeders. The best time to gather seaweed is during the months of May and June, the season can be extended a bit on either end. Now is a time to reflect on the past year and on where we find ourselves in the present moment asking how is this situation serving me and how is it serving others? We move through life in cycles, speeding up and slowing down. Is It the place, the time, the season, the activities, the people, or the moment that govern our pace and our growth? It’s important to allow for moments where we pause and listen to our needs and our inner wisdom.

This week I just might get out on the water down in Half Moon Bay where a friend Kirk leads sea foraging tours. Kirk has a colleague visiting from New Jersey, a man who teaches primitive skills to youth in his local school system. Kirk thought it would be fun to get this guy out on the water to look at the seaweeds, as well as the vertebrates and mollusks not far offshore. So this is the kind of thing I like to get myself into! Whether I’m communing with the seals and whales up north, leading seaweed harvesting tours, or showing up wide eyed to learn from the sea foragers of the bay area, I am looking for my ticket into the element that has received me with open arms. I am a creature of the land and the sea.

This past weekend I went up to Mt Diablo for a plant walk. I am inspired to one day lead people on plant walks or some type of nature experience. Other than the seaweed tour I co-lead this spring I have barely scratched the surface, but I enjoy attending plant walks led by others in order to learn the plants and the story of the land, and to get a sense of what it takes to offer others a valuable experience. I’ve been thinking about herb school. This morning I offered my novice advice on what herbs might be helpful for a friend’s cold. When I was in NC I dried small amounts of honey suckle leaf, mullein and usnea and had them stashed away for cold season. It’s really important to access our own knowledge and resources, and to share our simple wisdom with one another. On my blog I share my thoughts and experiences more than I share ways in which seaweed can be utilized for health. Visit other pages on the site to learn about the individual seaweeds and please contact me if you have questions about how you might benefit from adding seaweeds to your treasure chest. You’ll notice the new look of my blog thanks to a friend that I made on a plant walk series in Asheville. Now I have slide shows and individual pages for my goods. And away we go!

 

Eat Umami

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6th, 2012 by Kacie — Comments Off

Today I am drying laminaria digitata, when processing seaweed there is so much quiet time for reflection. Digitata, you could also call the plant kombu, is one of the most healing seaweeds in the ocean. It is also the least tender of all the seaweeds which can make it hard for people to integrate into their diet. As I cut up the dried fronds and sort out the best pieces for my customers I ponder ways to “sell my product”, which isn’t why I’m into seaweed. I think seaweed has “got me” in much the same way Michael Pollen writes about apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes in The Botany of Desire. So why hasn’t seaweed got most Americans hooked as it has in other parts of the world?

I went to college to teach elementary school. I have no interest in being trapped in a classroom all day and I don’t think children should be forced to do so either. I prefer hands on education and being outdoors, and seaweed is as hands on as you can get. One day I may bring children and adults out to ledges and beds of kelp to teach them about the magnificent plants. For now I am sitting on a food source and hoping that the digestive enzymes that people in Japan have developed find their way into the guts of more Americans.

Some macro algae like kombu have a constituent called sodium glutamate. This amino acid provides the taste that the Japanese call Umami. Umami means deliciousness in Japanese, and it’s a meaty, savory taste that encourages us to eat protein. There are receptors on our taste buds that respond to salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. I think it even triggers some kind of happiness receptors in our brains. Here’s one way to expand our food horizons in a country devoid of culture in some regions and overflowing with it in others, talk about food! Remind each other of our food traditions and ask others to share their traditions. Cook with friends and experiment more- can we create versions of old recipes that use fresh local ingredients? My mom adds seaweeds to recipes she learned from her nanny and her mother since childhood- chicken soup, baked pork chops, Portuguese soup, steamed mussels and she’s recently added pad Thai to her repertoire. She tosses seaweed into her dishes to add umami as Emeral Lagasse adds flavor to his dishes, with a bam. I add soup mix to beans and grains to add nutrients. Last month I made a fish dish where I breaded the fish with grounded almonds and corn meal after marinating the fish in coconut milk and other flavors. Before baking the fish I sprinkled soup mix over the fish and by the time the fish was cooked the seaweed had become tender absorbing the marinade. Soup mix is mostly ground digitata and smaller parts kelp and wakame (alaria).

Do people eat for health or hunger? We are a country of gluttons compared to many other people around the globe. Dinner should be about flavors and fortitude. Seaweeds can also be added to recipes simply for their healing nature. A friend of mine cooked lots and lots of kombu for his mom when she was healing a round of colon cancer.  He was guided by the book Healing with Whole Foods and a hearty box of kombu provided by She Sells Seaweed. A constituent called alginate is found in kombu that in studies has shown to slow the growth rate of cancer cells. Kombu is also a chelator; it pulls heavy metals, radiation and toxins from our digestive track. A mother from the school I taught at in Western Ma was eager to add kombu to her sons diet as she believes that heavy metals may have a role to play in his behavioral and learning challenges. Seaweed is also high in iodine and keeping our thyroid full of beneficial iodine protects us from absorbing radioactive iodine. Seaweed is an important addition to many healing diets. The list goes on as far as how eating seaweed can improve your health but like many other approaches to “natural healthcare” one must be convinced and even inspired to eat well.

I am twenty seven years old and I am wondering how am I going to survive in this world? To begin I’ve made a list of priorities and at the top of my list is to have land and a garden. My dinner conversation tonight went beyond ideas of growing a garden and to my true inspiration of growing and propagating plants, growing a nursery where I can provide plants to people to grow their own edible landscapes. This is a revolution and seaweed harvesting is fuel to add to my furnace that will drive me to being another leader in a movement to join my neighbors in creating a healthier planet. Seaweed is a magical food source, the plant itself is a teacher and I am an active listener in nature’s classroom.