Foraging for mushrooms on the floor of a forest takes knowledge of the season, what is edible, intel about where to look and a mix of preparation and improvisation. Gathering something wild to bring home to your kitchen or to gobble and go on the run, nature’s generosity without a price tag. I notice I do a fair bit of foraging in the forest of ideas, picking up bits and pieces here and there and consuming them with gratitude for landing at my feet. In reality, though I have actually done my own preparation, known where to be and when, and able to notice and pick and choose which ones are going to be nourishing and which ones might be poisonous or lead me down the wrong track.
I had a huge honour this week, receiving 86 new citizens as they took their pledge to Australia as they took their final step to become citizens. I think all Australian born people should take a pledge when they reach voting age as part of the process to step into the rights and responsibilities of adulthood in front of their communities as well. We take so much for granted. On the stage in the Hopgood Theatre there were 20 countries represented. I had two favourites, a little boy who was suited up resplendent with a bow tie to top off the outfit, who had clearly rehearsed and knew the lines of the pledge off by heart and from his small statue and with all the innocence of his childhood proudly and confidently, and loudly, recited the pledge. I picked up that wild moment to savour for later, when I get disappointed or worried about what it means to belong. I will draw on this memory to hold me.
Billowing folds of yellow cotton, wrapped around his body and a name of the week giving away his national identity as Ghana. I love Ghana, was a treat too. I spent a short time there when I was working for the International Association of Public Participation. The women were not scared of colour or curves, the men holding each other’s hands and dancing with ease at the drop of a hat. There is a lot of joy in Ghana. One of my foraged moments from that trip was the underfed and enthusiastic chickens that roamed around the inside gates of their Parliament House. The low protein value of those eggs didn’t stop the chickens being their parliamentary selves. I often think of those hens when I am with my own who are well fed.
Amidst the ongoing backdrop of police reports, security checks, studying up rules and regulations of the Local Government Act, advising and supporting elected members, responding to my peers in other councils, juggling the inner and outer quandaries of Australia Day, and taking in the love of friends and family, as I prepare for another interesting week, foraging and finding gems to ground me isn’t that hard. There are so many acts of kindness and beauty all around me. Being able to laugh, be colourful, be proud and confident, is a warm set of advice from my foraging this week. Everything is connected and the fruits of the mycelium are there to be foraged.