Beautiful days. It is an honor to witness regeneration. I initially thought I was despondent over Covid because I have less energy. Then I thought I was depressed. Turns out I’m fifty-four and I’m just aging! The day began with just being the energy that I have. Zeal has left me years ago, so I should have realized that that meant a permanent shift in energy. I noticed then that I should just forget time and let things take the time they take. It’s okay, right? I want to grow old gracefully, right? Allow myself to be who I am now. Mourn certainly for bygone days, but don’t dwell on it.
Derrick Chauvin is found guilty and the murders ramp up in the following days, now weeks. I did find out that black cops kill black folks as much as white cops so the issue is not necessarily race, but the policing system. Police are trained to hit center mass in the torso here in Amerikkka. In places like Spain, they are trained to hit the leg or the arm. I have thought for quite some time now that the challenge is not gender, class or race, but authoritarianism. The Establishment keeps us fighting amongst ourselves (gender, class, race) while the real fight is authoritarianism (favouring, encouraging, or enforcing strict obedience to authority, as opposed to individual freedom). Thankfully, we are catching our breath these days and have evolved to modalities like yoga, meditation and mindfulness practice and can vision the world that we want en masse. It seems the next step for us done, I say DONE with white supremacy. It’s time we do for ourselves in community. Our, love, envy, visons of aspiring to be, do, engage with whiteness, is over. For me, ya’ll dim in the light of pandemic, violence and sheer dehumanization of people of color. Let’s be clear, though, our dear white folks are trying to avoid spending another hundred years in caves, even though it was of their own doing. They’re history is alive and well in their psyche. Let’s show them compassion. The world was is and ever will be brown. We are inevitable. So we’ll take our white allies hands and walk into the sunset.
My entire journey has been to spend my life outside. In recent years, I have ventured out of my gardens in Beacon to have big land experience by volunteering on farms. It’s the simplest way for me to wild forage and share the bounty with farmers, I’m finding. I have always thought every farm should have herbs – built in healthcare. The problem is, farming, first of all does not fit into the capitalist model. Farmers jump through hoops and exhaust themselves trying to keep up. Second of all, herbs (outside of culinary) are not lucrative enough for farmers to spend any time on. Enter a nutty volunteer like me and we can develop an apothecary onsite. I get to explore new lands and provide a valuable service. I am a community servant after all. My contribution because I have no children. It was certainly not a conversation to be had fifteen years ago, but now with my experience and skill, not to mention time and energy, we approach a viable model.
From a suggestion by a friend, I have harvested Burdock root (Arctium minus, Asteraceae, Turtle Island A. lappa, Europe) for tea for the last two Springs wanting to have a deep cleanse. A yummy fresh flavor signifying Spring. I had a giant stand at Groundwork, so an endless supply of plants. I haven’t found or gotten even the start of a stand at Hiddenbrooke where I transplanted Burdock for the first time and she did go to seed. Back at Seed Song Opening Day, I decide to find where Burdock might be. As we walk around looking for our Autumn plantings, I discover Burdock behind the greenhouse and in the mound from which we transplanted Nettle to Nettle patch. I got roots from the mound. On our way to Wild Elderberry stand, there on a corner in full force is Burdock stand. Big heads of leaves bursting forth. For tincture, we harvest the first year Autumn dug Burdock root, which can be at least a foot straight down into the ground and can take fifteen minutes to dig. Spring root is small and short and easily pops out of the ground. I boil water, add the root and let it steep for ten minutes. I have found that African and Native American herb preparations are more often teas rather than the infusion I have learned in the Wise Woman Tradition. I have made White Pine and Hemlock teas in the past. Teas can be steeped anywhere from two (traditional) to thirty minutes. Dr. Nicholas Culpepper (1616-1654) is one of the earliest books on herbs from Europe now Culpepper’s Herbal Remedies steeps Burdock root in an “infusion” for fifteen minutes so perhaps “infusion” covers teas as well. According to Alma R. Huchens in Indian Herbalogy of North America, a recipe of Burdock root, Goldenseal and Buchu can be prepared into a decoction as a tonic. Evan Pritchard’s (www.algonquinculture.org) Aunt Helen’s Little Herb Book speaks of root tea as a tonic. Karen Rose at Sacred Vibes Apothecary
(www.sacredvibeshealing.com) in Brooklyn sells dried Burdock Root for digestion.
Horsetail (Equisetum arvense, Equisitaceae, Turtle Island, Asia) was also suggested by a friend and low and behold, SDG is now full of Horsetail in the wet area. Horsetail is an ancient herb around since the dinosaurs. I harvested some last season for the first time and made tea the same way as Burdock. Initially, Horsetail comes up with a brown stem that can be harvested and eaten on the spot. The heads can also be boiled or pickled. Then Horsetail branches out into green stems and branches. I harvested the green stems and dried them for tea. Mild flavored, but packs a load of minerals and salts for the blood, hair and nails. Also contains silica for connective tissues, arthritis, ulcers and eczema. Native Americans have used Horsetail for bladder and kidney issues. Plants are our allies and I am having pain in my hips which could be osteoporosis, so I am thankful for this new ally. Culpepper says to pour boiling water on an ounce of herb and leave it for forty-five minutes. Hutchens’ recipe is a teaspoonful in a cup of boiling water for forty-five minutes. Karen Rose has dried Horsetail for bones, joints, hair and nails.
I picked up Elderberries, from Dutchess County Soil & Water Conservation District. I missed the deadline for ordering last season (April 1), but I was on it this season (March 19). Ten bare root trees for $16.00. I planted an Elderberry at SDG three years ago, but it got mowed. I had noticed something come back before I could identify Elderberry. Now there are four young Elderberries at SDG! Lenticels in the bark and that signature compound leaf. Susun says one has to be invited to engage with Elderberry. Here I gooooo….. I had planned to plant some at SDG and A Farm for All, but now instead of SDG, I’ll plant them at Hiddenbrooke.
I fired up the EGO mower at SDG and she works like a charm. I decided to get an electric mower when I was a Milkmaid at Edgwick. I just did not have the energy to use the manual mower I always used. I like grass pathways because whenever I get the notion, I can just lay back and gaze at the sky or take a nap. There are a couple of kinds of grasses, a soft bluish easy to manage grass and a clumping bright green grass that I refer to as Formidable Grass that has to be dug up. After I mow, I notice the shaved clumps throughout the garden. After mowing I clean, clearing out the last of the dead stalks from last season. SDG’s got her new dress on full of anticipation and excitement.
At Hiddenbrooke, I continue weeding Mints, getting through Spearmint which had a few plants still hanging on and then partway through Peppermint, that barely had anything. It’s time to research Peppermint and figure out the growth habit. Thankfully, I have had good harvests in the past and still have tea left, but I want a good harvest this season. Perhaps I’ll have to start some from seed.
It is Ramp season at A Farm for All. We have a 1000 foot mountain in the backyard. Up we go to find our delicious, tender friends! The strong winds have brought down so many trees the mountainside looks like a graveyard. It will be interesting to see what comes up in their wake. Ramps are a bright green blade groundcover. We harvest one leaf off of each plant to ensure more next season. I like to saute them with Coconut oil and serve them up with rice and beans. This season, though, tired of pasta, I’m looking for another option and I am in love with Quinoa right now – a complete protein grain from South America. A yummy new recipe.
I am mindful of time and energy. My plate is full, but I think with proper scheduling, everything should work out just fine. I am a wandering spirit engaging with Earth. I love the schedule laid out before me. Perhaps I’m a sprite. Joan Herbseed (ala Johnny Appleseed) creating hubs for folks to have access to plant based food and medicine. For me it’s about being outside, for communities, it’s about sharing the information. The separation from Earth is complete across gender, class and race. It’s stunning, the time and energy that goes into that division. Deep disrespect and dismissal of our Mother sadly giving rise to rape culture for it is rape that we commit on Earth. We are parasites gobbling up our resources. It’s not too late, never too late to engage. Step outside, take a walk, breathe, she is and always will be here for us.