The Call of the Wild Rice

Let’s go gather some wild rice. After all, it grows on the fresh water tidal inlet very near where I live. What? You’d rather go to Costco? Naw, we can’t go to Costco, not while there’s abundant wild rice just begging to be harvested. Do I know how to do it? Of course I know. How do I know? Well….I read about it and really, there’s nothing to it. You get in canoe, one person paddles around in the rice, the other person whacks at it with a stick and before long, wild rice is piling up in your canoe. Then what? You take it out. Obviously. There’s nothing to do after that?

Well. Probably. But I’ll find that out when we’ve gotten all the wild rice.

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Me, ricing

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My sister, paddling.

Not much rice is in the canoe. We decide the birds are eating it all. (There are a lot of red-winged blackbirds. Hundreds. They are on the rice stalks. This mollifies my sister somewhat since it tells her that this stuff we are attempting to harvest is, in fact, edible and not another one of my sketchy ideas.)

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Our harvest.

Obviously, the canoe did not get filled up with wild rice.I research what happens next. My sister goes to her house to take an allergy pill. Turns out she is allergic to nature. I dry the rice, as per YouTube instructions.

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I dry and parch the rice.

I parch the rice, ditto.

 

Next the rice needs to be hulled. YouTube says Native Americans stomped on it with soft deerskin thingies on their feet. That seems difficult.

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I squish it with my hands. Ouch. I don’t have soft deerskin mittens.

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I rub it with a rock I picked up on the Maine seashore. That seems to sort of work. But not really.

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Maine seashore rock.

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With hull.

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Without hull.

I hull the frickin’ things one grain at a time. I invite my sister over. She declines.

 

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The almost finished harvest.

I have taken “Gather Wild Rice” off my bucket list.

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6 thoughts on “The Call of the Wild Rice

  1. Probably didn’t see a lot of overweight Americans back in the good old days pre 1492!
    Loved this piece. It was like being with you on an adventure I would have loved to be on too. And it reminds me of why, after many many hours of sweaty, primitively labor, growing and harvesting buckwheat for our own consumption is now off my bucket list. And why I have so much respect and appreciation for what it took to live off the land before the tools and networks we have were developed.
    Much love to you. We miss you. Suzanne

  2. So nice to hear from you–thank you for reading! I remember that when I lived on my farm years ago and grew much of my own food, how it gradually dawned on me that keeping a body alive takes enormous amounts of work. I remember August as being “The Month of Processing Tomatoes.” I hope all is well on the pond. Miss you, too.

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