Walk forest walk


I’ve stopped asking my students what they got up to at the weekend. One reason is that it’s like pulling teeth. They look at you like they think you might be planning to use this highly sensitive information against them at some point in the future. And to be honest, if one more student tells me they spent the weekend ‘looking for’ their children, I might call child protective services and report them – just to hammer home the difference between ‘looking after’ and ‘looking for’ once and for all.

But the main reason, is that I’m afraid they might actually answer me. You try faking ‘interested face’ as the 500th student proudly divulges the fact that they spent their weekend ‘walking in the forest picking mushrooms’. And if you can think of a better follow-up question than ‘No really…what did you do?’, I’d be delighted to hear it.

The only thing that stops me from falling asleep during this conversation is the Latvians’ astonishment that I can’t understand why they enjoy ‘walking in the forest’ so much. As it’s their national pastime, they can’t get their heads around the fact that we don’t indulge in this particular activity in Ireland – almost as if we’re abnormal because we have better things to do than trudge around a forest, picking fruit and vegetables we can quite easily buy in a shop.

Another popular pastime is making juice from beech trees. And if you think this is a euphemism for something interesting, it isn’t. You basically stick a pipe into a beech tree and then wait for approximately five years as one glass fills up drop by drop. In the interest of journalistic accuracy, I tried to Google this activity to see if there was a technical name for the process or the equipment. Google was stumped. It did offer me some lovely photos of ‘beach cocktails’ to make up for it though.

Other questions from students on the topic of pastimes include:

(Insanely dull) student:  “What do you call it when you collect honey? Is there a technical term for it?”

Me:  “I don’t know. I’ve never met anyone who does this before.”

(It turns out the technical term is ‘collecting honey’. Google was quick to compensate for its previous shortcomings.)

(Plain old insane) student:  “Have you tried ice-fishing yet?”

Me: “Eh, no. Standing on ice that might crack at any second and plunge me into freezing water for the sake of catching fish I don’t eat is not my idea of an enjoyable way to spend a weekend.”

Student: “But it’s so much fun!”

Me: (Sigh)

But then, considering the main Irish pastime is drinking, who am I to judge??

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
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9 Responses to Walk forest walk

  1. Anna says:

    I LOVE forest walk and mushroom picking! There is nothing like a hike though wet grass and ferns on that crisp September morning, right after the sunrise. It takes a proper forest, too – cant just be some park-like grove. Everything is so still, and you’re one with nature. It’s so zen and romantic at once. And then you spot a big porcini. It’s downright regal. And then a family of chanterelles! Man, I can just smell it now. Seriously, this was probably the #1 thing I missed while living in the US, definitely the top activity. And I dont even eat mushrooms!

  2. John says:

    I always found it illuminating there that they even had special verbs in Latvia for activities which we can’t be arsed to have verbs for in English. Senot (to pick mushrooms), ugot (to pick berries)

    • Expat Eye says:

      Which they translate as to ‘pick up’. It’s always embarrassing when they ask me the names of mushrooms, berries, trees, flowers (basically anything in nature) and I don’t have a clue what they’re called in English!

  3. I take it not many Ireland locals still go to forests for the sole purpose of picking ‘shrooms 🙂
    My friend who is now living in Ireland once posted this good joke on her FB wall citing some Irish mushroom hunting site: If you want to find out where the mushrooms are, follow someone from Eastern Europe. If you want to Eat the mushrooms, get to them first.

  4. Zyriacus says:

    You really mean “beech sap” or rather “birch sap”. Collecting birch sap is rather common and you will find an explanation (and the Latvian name for it: bērzu sula ) at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birch_sap

  5. traveller says:

    Ha ha! It seems to me that the English language as is offers an inadequate terminology for a series of fascinating human endeavours. Honey collecting and beech juicing cry for new vocabulary. .

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