I foraged for herbs amidst the rumbling thunder today. The dark sky hovered overhead as I bent low to the damp ground gathering plantain, chickweed, and german chamomile. The chill breeze and the warning lightning far off awoke my senses as I raced the stormclouds and a napping baby in an attempt to gather as much as I could.
Wild herbs. I’m not an expert on them, but I do know this:
1. They have amazingly useful properties,
2. I want to know more.
And each year, I’ve found, I do know a little more.
For instance, I know that yarrow can bring bleeding to a halt and bind up torn tissue when used as a poultice in a wound. I have a scar on my knee to prove it. I could’ve opted for stitches in the emergency room- it was that bad and that deep. Down to the bone I’m almost sure, though I didn’t prod around in it to be exact. Nor did I have time that day for an Emergency room visit (sooo responsible), so instead, at the advice of a friend, I used yarrow. In fact, I happened to be in her front yard explaining my predicament and wondering out loud whether I should just head on down to the ER. “Nah,” she said, “look, here’s some yarrow”, and she wandered over to a spot in her lawn ten feet from where we were standing. She told me all I needed to do was take a small amount and make a “spit poultice” and fill my wound with it, changing it out a couple times a day. Well that I did, I have some awesome friends, and the healing process was unbelievable to behold. The wound came together beautifully straight, and clean. Healing was swift. Bleeding that had already gone through two bandage changes in as many hours stopped almost instantly.
Needless to say, I really wanted to find some yarrow on this old farm to have on hand. I searched among the wintercress, wild mustard, wild carrot, goldenrod, thistles, burdock, and plantain; but any yarrow eluded me.
There was plenty of chamomile about- just starting to flower. I’m not a big tea drinker, but I may become one if all goes well drying it out. With my last several pregnancies I would make an infusion of chamomile, nettles, and sometimes butcher’s broom and sip as a cold tea all day. The chamomile for my nerves, the nettles for vitamins and strength, and the butcher’s broom to aid healthy blood flow and help reduce varicose veins. I didn’t notice that the butcher’s broom really helped, but it didn’t hurt. And the chamomile and nettles made me strong, and calm. Yeah, Momma.
I plucked the chamomile, the plantain, and the chickweed (though it was beginning to brown), and laid them out on a couple of old window screens to dry. Once dried out partially, I’d hang them upside down to finish inside.
I felt I’d accomplished something good.
And then the rains came.
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