Caption: Ramps Off the 190

by / May. 19, 2015 11pm EST

At dusk on Sunday, May 17, glancing to the right while driving on I-190 heading south, I saw an unexpected scene on the grass alongside the train tracks. Three women were picking something. Exiting and circling back, parking near condos and walking through weeds, I located the foragers.

Holding their bounty, delicious fresh ramps, were Laymya Aye, Chocho Chai, and Moetri Zar. Laymya spoke for the trio. “We came here because we were bored,” she said, pointing toward family members at a picnic area nearby. “Other people have told us where to pick wild leeks. When people are sick we boil rice, put salt and meat on top and then wild leeks. It makes you feel better. We are from Thailand, the Karen nation in Thailand. When we were picking a train came by all of a sudden—it was scary. We pull the leaves; when the soil is soft, it’s easy.”