Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I nabbed these grapes from a grapevine behind the studio.
I go out at night "hunting" for foliage and sometimes flowers, usually after 11 p.m.
Name a leaf and I can tell you what public park or parking lot you can get in from, and what the risk level is. We have become rather dubious at night. We fill up the car with bags of garbage, drop it off at dumpsters behind abandoned shopping centers, then set out to fill up the car again. This time with leaves and road side flowers. This is usually done at night, but I have become increasingly shameless and sometimes I've been "hunting" in broad day light.

About a month ago I hiked a mile uphill in the middle of the afternoon to get some little purple flowers I had seen the week previous when hiking the trail for the first time. I waited for hikers to pass by, then I pulled the scissors out of my back pocket and I quickly clipped. I have become numb to clipping flowers off the side of the road or in a parking lot or park. But the guilt gets to me a bit when I clip from the mountains. So I hurried down the path heading back my car, trying to walk slow when people passed by, you know, act casual, like there wasn't a small bushel of flowers in my hand. But I know I was walking like a nervous flower girl going down the aisle, carlessly throwing petals so that she can get to the end of the path...only I was clipping them. I smiled nervously as people walking passed and eyed the flowers. I got to the bottom of the trail and headed towards my car. Just then a forest ranger pulled into the parking lot. I panicked, shoved the flowers in a vase and tucked it far under my dash. My heart began to race, did they catch me? Did a hiker turn me in?

I started driving down the canyon when I saw another policeman pull up to the trailhead and park. I got a bit more nervous. About another mile down the canyon I passed another policeman driving up the canyon. My heart was racing. But not enough to pass up those purple wheat-looking grass things on the side of the road. So I pulled over and clipped a few. As I was walking back to the car another policeman driving up the canyon made eye contact with me and quickly pulled over. As he was looking at me he said something into his walkie.

Could it be?
Was I really going to get caught stealing flowers?
Had my time come?
He made eye contact while on the walkie, it had to be for me. I moved the vase of flowers to the back seat and put my jacket on top of them, just in case. There was still a trail of dry grass crumbs on my front seat spreading down to the floor in the back seat. I brushed them off.

I continued to the base of the canyon, thinking I had escaped them.....if they were even looking for me. Obviously they weren't, or they would have stopped me. When I got to the base there was an officer at the toll station. He waved me down.
This was it.
What would I tell them?
Do I say I am a florist and that I love the flowers so much I couldn't pass them up?
Or do I innocently say it is my sisters birthday and I wanted her to have some?
There are fines for picking wildflowers and I had a whole vase full. I pulled over, I am sure my face was red at this point. I was sweating.

Officer: "Did you just come from the trail?"
Me: "I did. The Fresh Aire trail"
Officer: "Did you hike?"
Me: "yes."
Officer: "Well.....we are looking for a flasher." Said with intonation like it was a question.

Me: "a flasher?"
Officer: "yes"
Scared and not thinking straight me: "I don't know what that is..?"

I'm thinking...someone stole a light from the police officers?

Officer: "you know, a flasher?" (makes motion of a woman lifting up her shirt)
Me: "Oooohhh, that kind of flasher! um, no, it wasn't me"
Officer: "well....ok, have a nice day maam."

Things that are noteworthy:
1. This arrangement pictured is not of the flowers I picked. They had a week long life in the very vase I hurriedly put them in after I picked them. They then died by my kitchen sink.
2. At least four cops and a ranger to find a female flasher on a hike!? Really?
3. It didn't stop me from mountain scavenging.


  1. You are a hoot Sarah! Loved reading this, but I was nervous the whole way through in case you got caught! Well a lot of these beautiful flowers and leaves would go to waste anyway, and as most plants become more profuse with clipping, it seems to me that you are just doing a spot of neighbourhood gardening, so to speak.

  2. I'm sure most of us who are addicted to unusual bits and texture do it. I know I do, even though I live in a city. I call it urban foraging. I limit myself to allies and overgrown public spaces and I'm still terrified of getting caught.

  3. Thats so funny! I do this all the time... there is an abandoned elderly peoples residence down the road from me and its been abandoned for a year now. So i go out at midnight and clip as much lavender in a bag as i can and i take it home! Same with hydrangea they have loads! Its all overgrown and nobody ever goes there... im sure its tresspassing though :')

  4. i love your story... like it was me! I cannot drive somewhere without looking around all the time! I already risked some car accidents because i just break to stop and gather flowers... my friends are afraid to ride with me now! wherever i go hiking, flowers or any natural material always accompany my wanderings... reading the other comments here, what about founding the club of "Secret Flowers Scavengers" ;o)

  5. So funny. There are so many bits in and around my neighborhood that I have thought about carrying some shears in my bag to take some home. The fear of getting caught always thwarts my thoughts.

  6. I am so glad I am not the only one who does this. An underground community of foragers! The chance of using a new frond or flower completely outweighs the risk!

  7. if only you knew how hard i am laughing .....

    I am so guilty of lifting flowers its not funny.
    Just make sure you leave a few to spread more seeds for next year & I am sure your conscience will be eased.

  8. very interesting read, Sarah. I got really nervous :)

    I thought about taking the flowers in parks and by the road side all the time, just haven't worked up the courage to do it, hehehe :)