"Have you found any Wild Rice, yet?"
That's the common question around here these days.
I have been out scouting in every corner of Minnesota and the reports seem to be true: this isn't a good year for the wild rice in Minnesota.
Check out this article:http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_21399725/minnesota-wild-rice-harvest-hurt-by-june-flooding
I am not sure how the Wisconsians are fairing. But, I haven't talked to much of anyone in Minnesota that has found a decent rice bed.
What does that mean for me? And, for those of you in my life that look forward to the decadent trades to be had to get your hands on some rice?
It doesn't look good.
(Luckily, I stash away some rice every year from the harvest in case this happens. So, I won't starve. ) Though I can't say much reassuring to the rest of you.
I am going to head out on Tuesday, cross my fingers and hope to at least get a little bit of seed in the boat - mostly for the ritual and experience of being on the rice bed. Harvesting Wild Rice is one of the most meaningful parts of the year for me. It's hard to explain to people who have never done it what it's like to get out on that sea of grain and get into the swish-tick-tick, swish-tick-tick rhythm. - looking out on a shoreline of trees turning into their fall colors, the quiet, the abundance.
The Wild Rice is a nurturing and giving plant. I feel such gratitude for all that it offers - however, little it may be this year.
And, according to a biologist who spoke at the Wild Rice Festival, having a year with out rice on the lake actually sets the seeds that are laying dormant up for GREAT growing conditions for the next year. So, perhaps we'll have a bumper crop to look forward to next fall.
I am going to be shifting my energy over to collecting calories from other sources this year: getting some bear fat to render, taking advantage of a great Hackberry crop (with thin seed shells! =), and head out to Merrick State Park to get a jump on the Wapato and Lotus harvest a little earlier than usual. And, maybe heading north in October for White Fish netting.
Luckily, fall is an abundant time of year all around. There is always something to gather and more to do than there is time for. So, I'll be keeping busy.