Of late I have been singularly fortunate in the meeting of singular people. In a previous essai you met Keiko, the Japanese tea master. This time, I want to share with you John the Poacher.
On a recent research rabbit hole, I came across John. A resident of East London, who for a decade now has been a master forager; entirely self-taught, profoundly unassuming, encyclopaedic in his knowledge and pure somehow - spending time with him is like looking through a drop of water. Starting with learning how to fish at a young age, over decades John has cultivated a deep companionship with Nature, keenly learning and knowing every tree, plant, mushroom, flower.
We met of a mild Saturday morning, starting in Springfield Park. Within three minutes of walking we had spotted London Blewits, eaten fruit from a strawberry fruit tree and I had squished the bark of my first ever cork oak tree. For three hours we chatted, roamed, sampled, laughed and said hello to locals, that recognised John as we folded through the East End. If you are in the mood to see with new eyes, to explore, then I would recommend booking a walk.
Werner Herzog remains the holder of one of the best quotes when it comes to the power of walking.
I heard him say, in several conversations, that 'the world reveals itself to those who travel on foot'.
At the end of the day, when I see people returning to their homes, I am often reminded of that final walk, that we will all take. It makes me inhale ever deeper, smile broadly, and feel blessed that in that moment, I am still able to walk this planet.
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