I was chatting with an attorney on the porch of Juice 'n Java yesterday. He was young, probably much younger than me, but already quite disgruntled and dissatisfied with his chosen profession. He mentioned that he'd been down at Black Rock earlier that morning trying to learn how to surf. I told him that was where I went to get the majority of my seaweed.
What do you do for a living? he asked.
I'm a professional forager, I answered, not at all ironically.
Above is a photo of my "office." My favorite tidepool at Black Rock. I like it best for many reasons-- it is accessible even at high tide, and it is very remote. Hardly anyone goes there. I ride my bike through Rodman's Hollow and slide down a little canyon in the bluffs to reach it. There are no strange, nude men with creepy and desperate intentions.
On the way back I clamber up the clay, loaded down with rockweed. I usually see a deer or two nibbling grass off to the side, always in the same places. I like that I know where the deer will be. This feeling of intimacy with the land and ocean is what sustains me. I may not be getting rich like that young attorney, but I know I am wealthy in the ways that truly matter. Lots of people are always telling me I should get my seaweed in stores on the mainland, rake in the big bucks, etc. I laugh, tell them that it's not so easy--I would require a much bigger bike to get all I need, but the real reason I don't want to mass produce, even if it were possible, is because I want to keep my operation slow, small, and simple. I don't want to feel pressured for time. I don't want to feel like I don't have time to lie in a tidepool and take a nap, belly down, on the beach. I let my office tell me what to do. The answer is always the same: swim, then sleep. The world is moving so quickly--but there are tidepools at Black Rock which--if you can reach them--will show you a long, slow view of yourself, a turtle's view, moving slowly through the warm, salty water toward the light.