My boyhood was in the
countryside of the Lowlands. Everything
in Nature is natural, without mask or cover-up.
In a sense it could be a plus, compared
to growing up in a city. At age five I had a small garden. Also a pair of rabbits, Flemish giants they
called them. White, with red eyes. They too were my sole responsibility, feeding, clean-up, etc.
Ladybug on Carrot Leaf
My favourite vegetable in the garden was
carrots, because the ladybugs seemed to prefer wandering over those green curly
leaves. Although father had a
potato-growing area, mine was too small for potatoes. We used to play Cowboys
& Indians because we’d seen those Hollywood movies in a primitive ‘theatre’
I always was an “Indian” because
it allowed me to be more creative and paint my face, stick feathers in my hair,
and yield a tomahawk (made from carton).
Where is all this leading, you may ask?
Well, I’ll tell you. We live right at the shore of Juan de Fuca Strait
here in James Bay, Victoria. A fairly
good-sized stretch of wild grass separates the sea from our road and
houses. Each June, that ‘grass’ blooms
with the blue-violet blossoms of the Camas.
Camas field across the street from where we live
The fields at one time were cultivated by the
Songhees First Nations. The Camas bulbs
were a staple food, something like a potato.
With care and know-how, they steamed the bulbs to the correct moment,
reading for consuming. Now, after many
years there is a revival and interest in the Camas plant. Under the supervision of a First Nations
Camas expert, Royal Roads University has began an enterprise of cultivating
the Camas. There is also a program at
Cooked Camas Bulbs
Reaction to this
initiative has been enthusiastic, especially among teenagers, who now are
helping in planting the bulbs. They hope the first harvest of this First Nation “potato” will be next year.
See what I mean where all the introduction was going? (By the way, all Camas with cream-coloured
flowers are a no-no. They’re
poison. Just so you know).
In the old days: First Nations Elder sorting Camas bulbs
Henri van Bentum