Bowl in hand, I wander slowly along the hedgerow, seeking out the freshest (and cleanest!) nettle tips and a handful of the brightest Jack-by-the-hedge leaves. Cooked briefly, the nettles lose their sting and taste like spinach, and Jack-by-the-hedge certainly lives up to its other name of garlic mustard.
Never mind that my ultimate destination is the little veg patch at the bottom of the garden where I’ve planted lettuce and radish and have my eye on some juicy thinnings. Never mind that these fresh greens are destined to be mixed into a bowl of spaghetti and cheese gathered from the supermarket and not from the wild. (But if there was such a thing as a spaghetti tree I would plant it, and a cheese tree would be worth its weight in gold!)
Never mind, then, that my meal won’t be authentically prehistoric. Even with the modern additions, collecting these leaves from the hedge connects me to a way of life that feels right and stirs up echoes of a past I’d like to visit.
But I think I’d want to come back to the present too, if only for the cake!