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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Vice- Books

I don't consider myself to be an impulsive shopper. I carefully calculate the costs of different items, deciding whether the things I want to buy are absolutely necessary, and if they're not, I usually will pass them by. I make do with as little as possible, don't make any rash purchases I will regret, and borrow whatever I can instead of buying.
Except for books. Especially books about wild plants. Edible wild plants especially.


I'm a book lover. Always was, and always will be.
When I was a kid in the US, my mother would take me to the public library at least once a week. I had a special relationship with so many different librarians. At a point, I wanted to be a librarian myself.
Books are my drug. I get swallowed into the world of which the author writes. When I'm in the middle of a good book, the rest of the room fades away, I forget about anything else, and I am enraptured.
I love a good fiction piece.
Unfortunately, where I live there isn't a decent public library system, and English books are expensive to buy. Even second hand books get pretty pricey where I live. I try to limit my purchasing of fiction, and just make do with the few I have and borrowing from friends. Once or twice a year, though, I'll buy myself a few second hand books.

I love information. Without it, I feel lost.
The internet usually is my highway to getting to all the knowledge I need to do all the atypical things that are part of my daily routine.
I'm obsessed with foraging. I love walking along and spotting food underfoot! I love seeing the plants that I never noticed before, and finding out what can feed my family. I love knowing that even if all the shops would stop being stocked (because of disasters) or we ran out of money, we'd be in no danger of starving because I can identify the multitude of edible wildlife in the vicinity.
The one problem with foraging is that I can't take the internet with me on my walks. I see plants out and about and I see plants on the internet, but my memory isn't perfect enough to know if they're the exact same. Sometimes I take pictures of the unidentified plant, then compare it to what I find on the internet, and then hope it's still there next time I come out.
Other times I pick one plant (or many) and bring it home with me, then try to identify it and hope I didn't pick it for naught.

Plant identification books solve the problem for me. Books with many pictures of plants with their flowers and leaves, that I can take with me along the trail to be able to identify what I see? Absolute bliss!
Best of all is when the book only has edible plants, so I can both learn the plant's name and know that it is a food plant.
First I look for plant identification books in the second hand book stores.
I buy every one there is! Even ones in languages I don't even speak, as the scientific plant names are written along with the pictures, and that's all I need anyhow.
But so far, I've either come across local plant identification guides or US edible plant guides...

The other day I was in the bookstore, perusing their nature section... and I was soooo tempted.
2 local plant ID guides- one on edible wild plants with color photographs recipes, and the other was a book on identifying edible and poisonous local mushrooms.
I did a little dance for joy! The first time I've seen anything of the sort! (I'd seen books on medicinal wild plants and one extremely overpriced book set on edible wild plants but with drawings, no photos.) I knew I just had to buy these.
And then I saw the price. 56 dollars for both.
Eep.
Bought them anyhow.

Rash decision? Perhaps.
I don't have many vices.
This is my one.
At least it's a helpful one.
At least these books help me lower my shopping bill.
At least these books are in the local language which is forcing me to practice my reading, which hasn't improved much in the 5 years I've been living here since I avoid reading in any language but English.
At least these books are improving my knowledge and helping me continue my education.
(For the record, since buying these books, I've correctly identified 6 more edible plants in the one day I went out foraging with it. It is helpful!)

But they're all excuses.
Books are my vice. Not a need.
We all have our vices...


What is your vice? How much money do you think it costs you? Are you fine with having a vice or are you trying to work on yourself?
Are you a reader/book lover as well?

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