A serene evening, with no wind and a clear sky, was sandwiched between heavy rains and wind. It was on that evening that the old dance between mother, baby, and the great mystery was midwifed again. And with blood it began. Concerned with the blood, a call to the midwives was made and by 7pm I had been checked. No dilation, no contractions, no major concerns. Watch the bleeding and call if anything changes. She went home.
Two hours later at 9pm the contractions came strong and steady. I knew we were on the road of no return and sunk into a breathing pattern that worked wonders. Long inhale in three parts; 1) breathing up and down the spine to extend it, 2) breathing into the lower belly and lower back to fill them, and 3) filling up the sides of the rib cage, followed by long deep exhales. When I would get to the lower belly/back breathing, something would pop and the pain would dissipate. After a 42 labor with my first child I was poised for the long haul, but my husband recognized that things were moving along quickly and called the midwives saying he wanted them there asap. He graciously, and with speed, prepared. Two midwives and a friend showed up at 10pm, where I labored for about 30 minutes and enjoyed being cradled by everyone’s company. The waxing moon shone brightly as it hung in a huge crescent over my left shoulder, illuminating the story unfolding. The sound of surf pounding our rugged coastline a mile below, guided my mind to let the incoming swell move through me. The sweet smell of night-blooming jasmine was thick in the air, riding on a whisper of wind, and scarried a heady remembrance that all would be ok. I only listened to one song during labor, and this was it:
The tub was filled with hot water and lavender essential oil, but I only lasted about 15 minutes before needing to get out. One of the midwives checked me and I was dilated to 8cm. I got back in the tub and then the body started the great clearing out from every orifice. The tub was drained, they hosed me off, and we were going to refill it, but baby decided to come. I was locked into position on all fours and just focused on trying not to push, as it was coming so fast. The sailor with pirate ancestry came out with plenty of swearing, screaming, and panting as I tried not to push. Then, my midwife said, “Sunny, what’s baby’s song?” and I began to sing. A beautiful song that was of the moment, and continued to sing as he came through the canal and slipped into this world surrounded by love at 12:12am on April 6th. Three hours of labor and 10 minutes of delivery. Amen! No tearing. No time to reach delirium. No fear.
I am so grateful for a healthy baby, for the loving support of my husband and midwives and friend Jen, and to live in a time where having a drug and hospital-free homebirth isn’t ostracized. It was so natural and required nothing but trust in the process. I’ve already had messages asking what I did to have such a healthy pregnancy, and I’m proud to say that I ate something wild every day and didn’t go out to eat or eat GMO’s and did yoga regularly, but the fact is that I had more health issues with this pregnancy than the last. The true difference was my state of mind, as I am happy and worked to not let negative thinking reign. I feel that balanced state of mind more profoundly affected my growing of a healthy baby and smooth labor and delivery experience than anything else. I’m also eternally grateful to the plant ally’s along the way, especially rose, for filling in the gaps where pain and fear reside. I can’t help but think that all the wild plants, herbal medicines, and aromatic distillations activated in my son a knowing of the natural world. His wild DNA has been activated, and I will continue to nourish him with a diversity of wild things his whole life long. I want to shout it out to the heavens, but I already did. He came in with a song, and the music shall continue for all of us.
One of my favorite wild greens while traveling in Central America during the past couple of years was the West Indian Wood Nettle (Laportea aestuans). It was fitting that I was able to continue my love affair with nettles. This plant has a smattering of names it is known by, including Urtica aestuans and Fleurya aestuans. I found it to be a common, abundant plant in much of Panama. It has a weedy nature and was recently discovered and red flagged in Hawaii with a New Pest Advisory.
I first learned of this plant through the book ‘Edible Leaves of the Tropics‘, one of the few tropical resources for my beloved wild greens. I found its leaves to have a more condensed and fuzzy texture than the Woodnettle (Laportea canadensis) and Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) I am familiar with in North America. Upon cooking, it was more easily mashed into a paste than its North American cousins.
A friend suffering from osteoporosis was thrilled when I advised he include large amounts of this plant in his daily diet, especially in bone broths. This particular study (click here) found the plant to have 638 mg/100g of calcium per serving…that’s significant! Although I recommended he stop smoking and drinking carbonated beverages for greater impact, it was nice to again share in the gifts the wild plants offer. This exchange with hundreds, if not thousands, of people during my sailing adventure through the Caribbean was deeply nourishing.
These beauties are carpeting the jungle floor here in Panama right now. Genipa americana has become a new favorite. I have not yet tasted its wild fruits, or been able to make a blue-black dye from its immature fruits, but I have begun a relationship with this tree…and that is a beautiful place to start.
For those who love cookbooks, the recent release of One Big Table by Molly O’Neill will dazzle you with a huge supply of foods found throughout America. If you look deep within its 880 pages, you will find 3 of those highlighting myself and several wild greens found throughout America.
Molly O’Neill is the author of three cookbooks, including the best-selling New York Cookbook, A Well-Seasoned Appetite, and The Pleasure of Your Company. She hosted the PBS series Great Food and was, for ten years, a reporter with The New York Times and the food columnist for its Sunday magazine.
Check out this beautiful new cookbook from Desert Harvesters in southern Arizona….Eat Mesquite! Known as kiawe in Hawaii, the Prosopis genus provides delicious food for those in the know. This cookbook was inspired by the long lines of enthusiastic eaters at the Desert Harvesters’ annual Mesquite Milling Fiesta and Pancake Breakfast in Tucson, Arizona, who beg every year for the famous pancake recipe. Here it finally is, in print, along with nearly 50 other delicious recipes in celebration of mesquite flour, an abundant and easy-to-harvest native food of the Sonoran Desert and beyond. Also, learn from experts about the culinary and medicinal uses of Prosopis in arid lands, secrets for cooking with mesquite flour, and how you too can harvest, store, mill and enjoy mesquite pods with tasty, fun and nutritious results.
I finally made it to Hokitika, New Zealand! Since beginning my journey into wild foods I have known about this festival due to it’s number one Google hit for ‘wild food festival’. For over 20 years this annual Wildfoods gathering has been tempting attendees with huhu grubs, elderflower champagne, worm sushi and enough ‘wild foods’ to fill 66 stalls. Although I missed the Festival itself, which happened on March 12th, I was able to interview its organizer Mike Keenan. Check check it out!
Yeehaw…I’m getting back into making videos!
Over Christmas I went on an awesome trip with 12 of my family members to explore and adventure through New Zealand. Going by airplane, foot, sailboat…it’s always an adventure traveling with us! My stores of dog rose (Rosa canina) hips are already gone and the elderflowers are now blooming on Maui. The New Zealand flax (Phormium sp.) was so cool to see growing all over the country, this part of the video was shot on Great Barrier Island…awesome island with huge tree ferns, crazy bird calls, and a wild spirit. Lambsquarters were growing all over the place and provided many large feasts along the way. I’m so excited because my fiance and I now have our production for pro video and music going. We’ve been making music with our band ‘Sunny and the Ryan’ and are trying to have original music in all our upcoming videos….yeehaw! The video below is a sneak peak into bi-weekly video blogs I’ll be doing for Veria
It’s official! Hot on the Trail with Sunny Savage will start airing on January 4th.
Tune into Veria, a network found on DISH channel 218, or Verizon FIOS, on Mon/Tues/Wed at 1:00 PM and 9:30 PM, Thursday’s at 8:00 PM, and Fri/Sat/Sun at 3:30 PM. Times are listed for EST (eastern standard time).
Another great year at the Wild Food Summit on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. This was our 4th Annual gathering and this year we had a spontaneous music recording with all the awesome musical talent attending. Listen to the Wild Food Summit song as you watch the video!
Another great opportunity to document an amazing plant person…David Bruce Leonard. I just moved to Maui after falling in love with Ryan, from the Hale Paliku video, and have been enjoying an amazing life here in Hawaii. So blessed to have met David Bruce Leonard and attend his Hawaiian plant medicine class for the past 2 weeks. Click here to order a copy of David’s book Medicine at your Feet: Healing Plants of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
David is working on a book of Hawaiian Edibles at your Feet. I hope to be contributing a few recipes to his new book, so stay tuned for some exciting new recipes. Am learning lots of new foods here in Hawaii, and am excited to start sharing them soon. Much aloha sent your way*
Sunny Savage, host of the television series ‘Hot on the Trail with Sunny Savage’, helps us untame our lives by incorporating wild foods into our modern-day diets. She holds an MS in Nutrition Education and has traveled to all 7 continents, learning from the plants and the people along the way. Her vision is that this website will become a clearinghouse of information and resources for wild food plants worldwide.