My 11-year-old niece, Mariana, looked at me today while we were on a hike, “Plantain is the one you can chew up and put on a splinter to draw it out, right?” She was standing over plantain and bent down to break a leaf. I was elated.


Mariana has spent time with us in the foothills but she lives in Silicon Valley. She lives in an apartment and there just isn’t much vegetation between the walls and the streets and the sidewalk. I was surprised that she remembered our lesson from last summer. I was thrilled that she could still identify the plant.

Our family and friends always leave their kids with us. It is the most gracious of compliments. I know that my partner and I are tender, patient people and that we can be trusted to take the utmost consideration when caring for children. It helps that we are good cooks. I wonder, however, if our treasured responsibility has something to do with our terrain.

Living in one of the most lush and lovely places in the world has its advantages. We are blessed with wild vegetation that is both purposeful and beautiful. We are able to grow wonderful vegetables and produce. We are able to pass the knowledge about plants and their bounty onto our loved ones and our community.


Both my partner and I grew up in cities and many of our family members still live in urban sprawl. When their kids visit, not only do they get fresh food, but they get real dirt and real air with it.

I have always wondered if our city kids have gone home to their televisions and iPods and have forgotten everything about our foothills.

I was thankful to learn today that our lessons stick.