I woke very early this morning and felt a need to write. I’ve been waiting for this fire to ignite again. For all the summer months I felt a doing, an urge to be making with my hands. And as is true with the flow of the seasons I have begun to draw inward and want to share my words again. As I sipped my morning tea I wrote out what I’ll be sharing at tonight’s Howl event. This local offering sold out fast. I am warmed to my core to be part of this group of healers that will be sharing an evening of Divine Feminine energy under tonight’s full moon in firey Aries. I will be offering a ceremony of tea (or Chai in tonight’s case). While Cha Dao (the Way of Tea) is traditionally an offering of the Tea plant; I’ll be offering the Divine Mother as an archetype in the cups of Lady’s Chai we will share. This will be a very special community evening indeed. After Chai there will be a guided meditation followed by Yoga flow. During our Savasana Acupuncture and Reiki will be applied. In a small room full of diverse mountain women the energy will build and hopefully spill out for the good of our mountain community. This is one of those positive ways to create change in an increasingly negative time. We will do this again (or something similar). Check the events page for future offerings.
'Life got away from me there for a while. We have just under 2 acres in cultivation and August seems to be the month where everything ripens at once. We have berries, apples, a rose and large vegetable garden and two medicinal herb gardens that took most of my attention this month. But as we are at the mountains it seems to slow down just as fast. We now have cooler temperatures both day and night and have gotten a bit of rain this week. I wouldn't mind a few more weeks of the hot weather, but as I'm a knitter I can't say I won't enjoy the days of knitting a sweater by the fire that will soon be here.'
That was the beginning of a much overdue email I sent out this morning to someone I am creating a friendship with that lives far away. I try to paint a picture of what is happening here. And as I continued to write I realized that this is a good place to start a long overdue blog post as well. I seem to paint myself into a corner by giving myself deadlines. I have always found that self imposed deadlines or 'it has to be just this one way' is a sure fire way for me to not do a thing. And yep, I did it with this here blog. And now enough of that--
August is so busy here, but July was as well. I find that once summer hits I'm a doer. My writing ends for all intensive purposes. Most of the writing this year has been in my newsletter format as well as my online class. I have several classes I want to add to that online school. However, I've realized that summer isn't that kind of season for me. So I've done some short videos and taken a lot of photos so that this fall and winter I can offer these short courses on the plants I grow and all their wonderful uses.
Right now I am processing plants that have been drying in my Chicken Coop. I can barely find room to create as the plants have taken over every surface. I love it and of course am really ready to have lots of counter space again. We finally came up with a drying rack system to get the plants out of baskets and onto wall shelving. That, of course, means cleaning up the area so that the shelves can be installed. So to that end, I have been sitting outdoors the last couple days stripping dried flowers and leaves from stems and branches into the jars they will be stored while awaiting alcohol, honey, glycerin or be saved for to drink as teas throughout winter. Last summer I really wasn't able to harvest many plants as I was sick for 4 months. It allowed perennials to get that much hardier, making this year a bumper crop for most of my medicinals. I will not be purchasing many herbs to make my remedies throughout this year as I unfortunately had to last year (although it felt great to support the several local herb farmers I did). I can't give up on my Chai collection though so those spices will come from trusted sources outside the area. Although I've had this niggling feeling of not getting all the projects done that I wanted this summer it has felt so very wonderful to just dedicate myself to the plants. This week I've been working with Blue Vervain, Skullcap, Lemon Balm, Calendula, Lobelia, Mugwort (Western, Japanese and Vulgaris), Comfrey leaves, Red Clover, Yarrow, Anise Hyssop...it's been a busy week.
I have also had a booth at two farmers markets this summer. I love the community building and outreach that occurs in this type of setting. I have several new products that I've created from requests at the markets that I haven't had time to add to the website. This Friday will be the last market day for me in Sandy the Mount Hood Farmers Market so that I can get a bit more caught up on the website and plan for some other local encounters (keep an eye on the events page). A yoga instructor and nutritional coach in our village started the Hoodland Farmers Market in July that has been so wonderful! We are a food desert up here with a single grocery that has little organic foods and what there is has a very high price tag. The Sunday market (going until September 30) has been so well attended and allowed me to serve my community in a way that I haven't been in the past. Over the years I've seen myself as serving the people I was still connected to in Portland and others around the country that have found me in a variety of ways. This local connection feels right and I plan to continue to nurture it past the farmers market timeframe.
There are some plants that are needed especially right now, those that are hollering out saying hey don't forget what time of year it is! Elderberry is first on the list. While not yet ripe up this way, I do have products previously made that are ready to go (and I need to get them up on the website). Elder is a wonderful tender medicine that all ages can take in different formulas for the primary reason of helping your body to boost its own immunity. There are other uses for this small tree as well. The flowers are a beautifully scented umbel style flower that are very tasty in a jelly and taken as a tea help the body to break a fever. The leaves are not ingested but make a lovely lavender dye for cloth or yarn; also can be used as a poultice or ointment for wounds. The tree itself in quite magical. Known as a fairy tree, you never take from her without leaving a gift behind. As with any plant you always ask permission before doing any harvesting. The Elderberries are most known and widely available in natural food and medicine stores as syrups, elixirs, tinctures, teas to help all ages in the cold and flu season. I have all of these in my apothecary and take some to the farmers markets. They have historically been known to prevent or lessen the amount of time a cold or flu hangs on. A very gentle remedy, as I mentioned, this is a medicine that can be taken by young or old. Just make sure you've chosen the correct way to administer it. What does that mean? Well children until 1 yr shouldn't have honey (so infuse the berries in maple syrup) and really the very youngest should take any medicine through their mother's breast milk. There are also those that prefer not to have alcohol (take a syrup or use a glycerite). There are many products out on the market and I have some that I'll be adding to the website over the next week.
I'll be back soon with some other plants that are helpful to the body right now. If you are experiencing dis-ease in your body and are looking for something specific that you don't see on the website do email. I have a much larger apothecary than is represented in the shop. If I don't make a product I like to refer you to herbalists around the country where that plant medicine is local to them. There is such a wonderful network of plant people out in the world. It makes my heart sing to see what is happening now compared to when I first became interested in taking plant medicine myself back in the 80's.
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I love a quiet morning in winter. Walking out to open the barn with snow falling on my head. The ducks are anxious. They can hear the difference outside. They know there is snow. They are even more anxious when its raining. Wet, wet, wet is all they want. As I walk up here is a little bunny. I know she was given a name by her owner, but she moved here and now I call her little girl. Maisie is it? no thats not right. She doesn’t care. I’m sure she must be a Virgo…doing it her own way. What need is there in a name. She arrives at the door as I do. I’m sure timed just right. I open the doors and she hops out of the way as a flood of feathers, both duck and chicken fly from inside. All have woken and those that are on the ground want to be out. They know it’s time for scratch and breakfast. All await the throwing out of the scratch, even that little girl. As they all are occupied I fill the feeder with grain and move about to gather chicken eggs from boxes and duck eggs from their various hiding places. I make a note of the fact that new straw needs to be put down. As lovely as this is yesterday it was torrential rain and it has compacted this thin layer of straw. The duck eggs are laid on the edges where they could pull together a nest to lay their eggs in. I have plenty of broody hens, but what I would give for a duck to sit a month on her eggs. Once we had one. Of course that was during a short time with no drake…what was the point. Once all the barn duties are done…feeding check, eggs gathered check, new straw down check, cuteness observed from all around check. I never get tired of watching a bunny nibble at corn right next to the birds. Of course the ducks are off. Rarely do they stick around for scratch…off to the pond. Must get wet. I turn to head back to the house. My hands are getting cold. Fingerless gloves are great to work with, but they really do not offer protection from the cold. The snow is light still. It must have begun just a couple hours before. I can see the tracks of the one hen that refuses the protection of the barn at night. She must be perched in the awning outside the garden shed. The little bunny tracks as she travels over from the old hen house at the top of the orchard. She’s become a wild thing, well she thinks so. No winter nap for her, runs about in the rain or snow, cavorts with chickens, loves an occasional cuddle. But in her mind she’s wild as hell. And just before I get to the back door I spy a trail of deer tracks. I haven’t seen them for quite a while. I’ve been hearing gun shots not far off. Some ridiculus person practicing with a target. But it has scared the wildlife enough that we don’t see the deer like usual. They must be coming through on the deer highway up our driveway from the river across the neighbor’s yard ahead of us. They are somewhat smart. They gather that they don’t hear that terrible noise early in the morning so that is when they come through. The deer we see know us. They have been visiting their whole lives. They know in late summer there will be apples for them. Some will even eat from our hands. In other times of the year there is that nice compost pile full of greens or what have you. And if they are very lucky a garden or orchard gate will be left open for some serious treats. But now is the hard time of the year. No treats unless they are brave enough to go into the barn. Some will. Some have met resistance from chickens and don’t want to try their luck a second time. Today they seem to have just moved through. One maybe two of them. On I walk into the house where it is warm from the fire I started before I went out. The smell of coffee is now in the air. The prelude of the day has finished. Or was that the whole day and the rest just an epilogue.