Doing life right, at home and away

Tag: forest

Of wild garlic and spring foraging

Ah, the spring, the greenery, the herbs, the foraging. 

Starting from some time in March, until May and even beginning of June, Leipzig is filled with the distinct aroma of wild garlic. (Maybe you call it ramsonsbuckrams, broad-leaved garlicwood garlicbear leek or bear’s garlic, or just Bärlauch, if you’re German…)

It is perhaps the easiest and the most versatile herb to forage and, perhaps most importantly, it grows in heaps throughout Central Europe. 

Kind of a chive, the name in many languages comes from the brown bear’s liking to it and the bear’s habit to dig up the ground to eat the bulbs. Brown bears have great taste.

How to find it and identify it?

Wild garlic is so common at least in Central Europe and the UK, you’ll unlikely struggle to find it. 

Go to the nearest (semi) deciduous forest. Smell the air. The dead giveaway of wild garlic is the scent. You’ll smell it miles before you see it – as mentioned previously, the whole city of Leipzig smells of wild garlic for weeks. 


Wild garlic tends to grow in low, bushy foliage, with quite long, thin stems and long, gently tapering leaves. The individual little “bushes” have each long and thin stems in the middle with one single flower bud growing on each stem.


However, the strong smell is such a clear way of identification that if ever in doubt, just rub a leaf between your fingers to break it and trust your nose – it will smell like a strong chive/spring onion and distinctly garlicky. There is no way to mistake wild garlic for anything else if your sense of smell has not been compromised!

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Of autumn hobbies and picking mushrooms

All mushrooms are edible. But some, you can only eat once.

– Old Finnish proverb

I’ve been holding on to this post for quite a while but somehow struggled to get it finished. Today I went out with Musti and found such a nice mushroom harvest, I knew I had found the last pieces to this puzzle. I had to finish it.

So, I go to the forest quite often.

Some nice green forest in Leipzig

I don’t actually consider going to the forest exceptionally calming per se – I just like it that there are no other people there. I like the feeling of temporary, fleeting isolation. If you go deep enough, you can almost not hear the motorways.

I go all year round, but autumn is my favourite time – there are no longer so many mosquitos, it’s not that hot – the air has that crisp autumn smell – and, if you are lucky, you can find mushrooms.

Sara in the forest with Musti dog

Top Samuji (2015) // Jeans H&M (2015)

Picking mushrooms is in Finland like a national hobby: when autumn arrives, every social media channel fills with pictures of mushrooms, foods made with mushrooms and a lot – I mean A LOT – of the conversation with people revolves around these special fruits of the forest!

Chanterelles on a wooden chopping board

Plus, mushroom hunting is incredibly fun! The joy of the discovery, the warm satisfaction of feeling so capable and self-reliant is almost intoxicating. Here we are back in Finland, a few years ago, when we found so many black trumpets, we still eat them to this day! The smiles tell it all.

Apparently mushroom hunting is not as common elsewhere as it is in Finland. Ever since I moved abroad, I have not found a single mushroom hunting buddy! I’ve found that a lot of people are, first of all, confused about identifying mushrooms but also not sure what to make of them and how to really get started. So, I’ll gently take your hand and hold it through the basics of mushroom picking: presenting 3 + 1 of the easiest mushrooms to pick in central Europe and a couple of nice easy recipes to complete your first foraging adventure!

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Leipzig forest in the evening

Of autumn (and my favourite poem)

Autumn has arrived. I think it might be my favourite season. We took a long walk with Musti through a very foggy forest to the pet shop.

Sorry it’s only in Finnish, but below is a favourite poem for my favourite season. One day I will try to translate it (with some help from W). How do you translate “the chest of the reeds” or “rain playing on the lake” anyway?

Kaksi vanhaa, vanhaa varista
nuokkuu hiljaa pellon aidalla.
Ruskea on rinta kaisliston,
taivas harmaa. Sataa. Syksy on.

”Kurkikin jo lähti”, veljelleen
toinen virkkaa niinkuin itsekseen.
Pitkä hiljaisuus. Jo toinenkin
”niin maar; lähti”, sanoo takaisin.

Sitten vanhukset taas vaikenee.
Järven pintaan sade soittelee.
Sukii siivenselkää toisen pää.
Toinen joskus silmää siristää.

Höyhenihin niskat kyyristyy
Sataa. Hiljaista on. Hämärtyy
yli pellon mustan kynnöksen.
Tuntuu riihen tuoksu etäinen.

Kaksi märkää, vanhaa varista
nuokkuu aatoksissaan aidalla.
”Täytyy tästä…”, toinen havahtuu,
lentoon verkkaisesti valmistuu.
”Käyhän taaskin tarinoimassa.
Oli oikein hauska tavata.”

Lauri Pohjanpää

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