Rose Hip and Snowberry – Part 2
Children, Literary

Rose Hip and Snowberry – Part 2

By Jane Valencia

This is a continuation of the story started in the December issue of The Vashon Loop.

In a time when technology falls away, the folk of an Island find themselves returning to the ways of the forest. Two children, Rose Hip and Snowberry, explore their new world. This is one of their adventures.

Rose Hip and Snowberry head up and down the deer trail, and through some thorny bushes. Rose Hip spies a pile of twigs and branches.

“My ears are cold. Let’s make me a house!” Gathering small, thin sticks and larger ones, Rose Hip jams them together with twigs every which way. It topples over. Snowberry comes to help, and together they come up with a structure that resembles an upside-down boat, but just the bones of it. Snowberry had once learned how you might build a shelter, thinking that it might be a good thing to know one day, and here is one day!

Rose Hip and Snowberry layer leaves on top of the bones of the structure, and then ferns too, because Snowberry thinks it’s a good idea. Rose Hip piles on even more fern, both inside (“for a head bed”) and out. Then, into the shelter goes Rose Hip’s head.

“Comfortable,” says Rose Hip. “But not warm enough.”

Snowberry laughs. “You need a bigger shelter if you want to be really warm. One like a big sleeping bag.”

Snowberry is all set to work on a bigger one, when Rose Hip springs up. “Look at that. I know how to get warm!” Rose Hip dashes down the deer trail.

What can Snowberry do but follow. Down the deer trail and up and down it. Different trees mix with the Red Alder, and among them are tall Bigleaf Maples, who have dropped most of their big, yellow leaves. On the trunks, however, are lengths of moss, with shoots of little ferns growing in them. Rose Hip squeals. “Licorice Fern!”

Reaching into the moss, and with the sensitive fingers as if of Raccoon, Rose Hip probes the moss, revealing a small network of roots. Rose Hip snaps off a piece of the root and takes a bite, “Yum!”

Because, if you’ve ever tasted the root, you know that it has a sharp, slightly sweet flavor, and is much like licorice in taste and feel in the mouth.

Snowberry breaks some off too. Then Snowberry, delighting in that taste and the coating that soothes the throat, and thinking of Mam, decides to pick more. In short time, Snowberry’s hands are full of licorice root, and the moss is a torn-up tangle.

And then Rose Hip pulls the moss off the tree in one big layer, and places it around her shoulders. “A moss coat! Isn’t it beautiful? Now I’m truly warm.”

The moss coat is beautiful indeed, and for one amazing moment, Snowberry imagines what would it be like to live in the forest, dressed like the trees, and gathering the treasures of the forest for food and fun. To live here all the time. What would it be like to find a home here – under a downed tree or in a little cave? – or to make one from the branches and blankets of the forest? To be at home and wild!

But then, Snowberry becomes aware of the many roots in their hands, and the mangle of moss and torn-up fern. The torn-up fern trails back the way they came, when Snowberry and Rose Hip were picking them for the head house. Snowberry feels that squeezing in the gut for the third time. While Rose Hip’s moss coat is handsome and fun, and all these roots will be helpful medicines during the winter, and tasty too, something about the gathering of the plants hadn’t been a gathering at all, but instead was something all mixed up. A frenzied taking instead of … what? Instead of asking, maybe.

The chill picks up to a wind, and the wind to the first spatterings of an icy rain. Rose Hip grabs Snowberry’s hand, “Let’s go home.”

But, as they turn to head back the way they came, they stop short!

To be continued.

Magical nature field note:

Licorice Fern (Polypodium glycyrrhyzza): The roots in small nibbles can be soothing to the throat, mouth, and gums if sore, and if you like the taste. Herbalist Michael Moore in “Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West” recommends cutting the rhizome into small pieces and drying them before use. It can help to decrease hypersensitivity and inflammatory states. Some contraindications exist, so research before using medicinally.

December 21, 2022

About Author

jane Jane writes about what it means to be an Islander, and how we can nourish healthy community. A harper, storyteller, and herbalist, she also shares tales and art that she is sure the Island told her. Having lived with her family on Vashon for 20+ years, she is convinced of the Island's magic.