When on our rambles, one of our greatest pleasures is to discover something edible. It is probably because of the novelty of picking something directly from a tree or bush, or better still, from a wild plant growing along the forest path.
Today, we amass quite a collection of edibles to taste on our picnic; for whomever is brave enough that is.
In the vegetable garden, the artichokes are out. It takes determination and skill for little fingers to pluck each leaf; chewing off the soft edge and persevering until the fleshy heart is revealed.
Walking through the olive grove, we tread on camomile flowers underfoot and the air fills with their scent.
We reach our picnic spot beneath the big pine tree in the orchard. The almonds are finally at an acceptable level of bitterness, so we chew away at those and the children simply stuff wild fennel (“marathos” in Greek) that grows in abundance here. We consider the link with the place, Marathon, just down the road, “a place full of maratho”.
The one food we never fail to collect is the chicken and duck eggs. For several weeks now, a duck has been sitting on her eggs and hisses visciously at anyone who comes near her nest. The children have had plenty of warning to avoid that particular box, and many opportunities to discuss what the duck is doing.
Today, however, mother duck has wandered off, leaving her eggs perilously exposed! A little boy holds on tightly to one of them, determined to take it home, and refuses point blank to put it back. It takes a lot of persuasion, but also careful consideration of why this egg is different to the others we so freely take every day.
To begin with, the dilemma doesn’t seem so great and it would be easier to give up and let the boy keep the egg. However, there seems to be a greater moral issue here and we persist.The reason we come up with is that the other eggs are left for us by the birds, a gift as it were, whereas this one belongs to the duck and we don’t have her permission to take it. Grudgingly, he puts it back and we move on.
Of all the routes that lead us to our hut by the ponds, it is the forest path that has the most delights. The smell of wild thyme and oregano wafts up as we brush against the shrubs and today, for the first time, we notice the spears of wild asparagus pointing out of the ground. To our amazement, two boys, the more seasoned foragers, begin breaking off tip after tip and eating them until there is nothing but a bare stem left in the ground.
As Greek Easter is approaching and this is our last gathering before the holidays, we spend the afternoon decorating eggs. The little boy of the duck egg incident, having painstakingly decorated his for “mummy”, promptly peals it and devours it… a fitting feast to end a day of forraging in a mediterranean garden.