“Big picture! Big picture!” the Artist frequently reminds me when he sees me scanning the ground at my feet. He’s right to find the big picture important – and I love it, too (see the one above), but little things also form a big part of my world. Sometimes I’m looking for special stones, but I may just as often be seeking clues about who’s been down the road earlier in the morning. Were there deer? Coyotes? Someone walking a dog? Birds or snails, snakes or mice?
Yes, I see the big picture. At this time of year, the bright colors in the landscape are impossible not to see.
But in every season there is some particular tree or plant that grabs my attention day after day and won’t let go. This autumn it’s wild grapevine that I can’t help seeing everywhere. One arduous morning spent tearing and cutting and pulling vines on part of our home property sensitized me to its presence in the passing scenery – climbing trees, clambering over fences, clinging to and nearly smothering everything that will give it a foothold.
In the plant’s defense, we must note that it is native to this area, and its fruit is edible. On the downside, the vine recognizes no boundaries. And some years, I’ve noticed, you can search and search without finding any grapes on the vines. Did wildlife get them all, or did the vines simply not bear that year? Well, it isn't as striking in the landscape as the bright fall scarlet of Virginia creeper, but it makes a good contrast.
Some wild foods require far more work than others to harvest and store. I can spend evening after evening contentedly peeling and slicing wild apples (my eye is especially attuned for wild apples in the landscape) for the food dryer (drying fruit concentrates its sugar, so the tartest wild apples become palatable in dried form), but one year of hulling and shelling black walnuts was enough for me. Anyway, the squirrels depend on them to fill their winter larder, so I'll just gather them up and leave them for the squirrels.