What to say except that harvest has begun and we are enjoying the bounty. We are heading for Harvest Moon in September. The season winds down, the mornings are cooler, thankfully. I’m sure we broke the record for consecutive 90º days here in Beacon. Mama is relentless this Summer. For the first time ever (menopause) I cannot handle the heat. If I’m outside, no problem, but indoors, we have had to place a fan in every room. What a joy it would be to sleep out doors these days. We caught a break last week with Tropical Storm Isaias, but we were right back again for the weekend. Mama proceeds to adjust right through Covid-19 and the protests. Masks are the norm now. We are proud of New York State no longer being the epicenter, thanks to our fearless leader, Andrew Cuomo! We look to parents’ options for school’s opening.
As the season winds down, I can move back to the Herbal ABC’s and continue where we left off back in Blog Opening Day 4/8/20. Our last three herbs were Linden, Milkweed and Motherwort. Now we move on to Mugwort, Mulberry and Mullein.
Mugwort, Artemisia, vulgaris, Asteraceae, Perennial, North Africa, Siberia to Europe
Mugwort and White Pine (Pinus strobus) were my first vinegars. Mugwort has a bright floral flavor as a vinegar. Mugwort leaves can also be used in our Wild Salad, sparingly, as she has a strong flavor. Most empty lots are Mugwort. She has an intricate network root system that I believe can provide erosion control, but she can be problematic in the garden. Constant cutting, constant weeding. She is used for moxibustion in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is a sacred plant here on Turtle Island, Asia and Europe, dried and burned in ceremony. Dried leaves are also used for tea, a digestive aid and for menstruation, but should be avoided when pregnant. The Chinese do use it for an overactive fetus and postpartum cramps. Mugwort also smoothes out the Great Change, also know as Cronewort. I believe Mugwort will also serve men in their Great Change, andropause.
Mulberry, Morus alba, Moraceae, Tree, China
I have know Mulberry since I was a child in Queens, munching on the berries that would stain the sidewalk purple every year. Asian plants are particularly aggressive here on Turtle Island with no natural challenges so they run rampant and out compete our native species. I have watched a whole stand of Cattails (Typhya sp.) overrun by Phragmites (Phragmites australis). Mulberry has been grown for the leaves which are silk worm food. Young shoots can be eaten. Leaves and root bark are diuretic, expectorant and can drop blood pressure.
Mullein, Verbascum thapsus, Scrophulariaceae, Biennial, Asia, Europe
I had Mullein tall in a row like soldiers at Groundwork. She chooses a different spot every year. The soft woolly leaves are tempting to use as toilet paper when nature calls, but it is actually an insult to use the leaves as toilet paper. Mullein has a level of nobility. An infusion of the dried leaves with milk is good for respiratory issues. In folklore, the smoke of the dried leaves can be blown into the face of an asthmatic to stop the attack. Flowers treat eczema and heal wounds. The root tea is diuretic and astringent for the urinary tract.
New Moon offers us the opportunity to send our wants out into the universe, to which the universe is designed to comply. With the waning Moon we can pull back and in and down and the focus is on gratitude. The same can be said for the seasons. Winter Solstice (December 21 or thereabouts) comes with visions of the new season and what we would like to experience. Spring Equinox (March 21 or thereabouts) is full of energy taking action to procure our seeds and plant starts to head out to the garden. Summer Solstice (June 21 or thereabouts) is the first opportunity to pull back and in and down and begin to give thanks as the bounty and hopefully our personal triumphs come in. Autumn Equinox (September 21 or thereabouts) is a full release of the season as gratitude takes over and even visions of next season start to dance in our heads. What went right, what went wrong and energy to dream. I write an Assessment in the Autumn. This sweet ebb and flow is offered up to us by the natural world. We have thirteen New Moons every year and there is talk that because we artificially shifted to twelve New Moons we have dipped into the chaos we experience these days. Our natural rhythms will never forsake us. We can count on them to inform our lives.
We head down into Autumn Equinox with Covid-19, protests and now Tropical Storm Isaias, that knocked out power at A Farm for All! for six days and even at my apartment complex overnight. We look to be heading for the perfect storm of pandemic, natural disaster and uprising not unlike 1177 BC – When Civilization Collapsed (Long Now Foundation, You Tube). The wonderful Stewart Brand of the Whole Earth Catalog has now created the Long Now Foundation (www.longnow.org) to foster long term thinking. We are narcissistic and believe we cannot learn anything from the past, which is why we are doomed to repeat it. We don’t have to look as far back as 1177, we have a pandemic from 1918 to inform our today. I think that logically when facing any issue in our lives, we look through our lives to find an instance when we experienced a similar issue and we mine the issue for what worked and didn’t work. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. We are stuck in such mire.
Hope springs eternal, though and we need only to look to our Mother Earth to reset our chaos and settle down. Gaze up at the sky, clouds, stars, blue, sun, moon, over the waters, ocean, river, rain, green, streams, lakes, brooks, waterfalls, take a walk hiking mountains and roads, touch her and be made whole.