Tuesday, December 3, 2013

My Herbal First Aid Bag

Carrying herbal remedies with us when we travel is another way to be prepared when accidents happen, which happen to happen more often when traveling with kids. I've had many different ways to carry my herbal first aid kit over the years. Sometimes it has worked great and provided just what I needed. Other times I've found myself not having access to a needed remedy or adequate supplies. This spring I brushed up a bit on herbal first aid with 7Song's herbal first aid course through Learning Herbs. 7Song runs the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine. He has mega first aid experience and his herbal first aid bag is incredible. The course really inspired me to put some more thought into my own first aid bag and really think about the remedies and supplies I might need. It's still a work in progress, but I feel it is at least ready to use, and therefore present as one solution to the question...

So what does an herbal first aid bag look like?

I wanted a bag that was sturdy, light weight, not too fancy, not too big, but adequate for carrying the supplies I needed. I finally decided on a small canvas that cost me less than ten dollars. It looked very drab and militaristic, so I sewed on some fabric more to my liking. I'm sure the appearance will continue to morph over time, but for now I am happy with the bag itself.

Everything inside is packed neatly and securely, but within easy access. There are two smaller, zippered bags which are foam lined inside the main compartment. I used these to hold my glass bottles so there is no risk of breakage. Other items are tucked around these two bags.

The zippered bags are easily removed from the big bag.

The first zippered bag basically contains the contents of what used to be my whole first aid kit. These items are my essential that I don't leave home without...the bare minimum. You can see how the writing on the labels is faded and smudged. These remedies have traveled with me for a few years now and have been quite used. They include...a liniment, blackberry root glycerite, skullcap tincture, shepherd's purse tincture, echinacea tincture, anti-spasmodic tincture, rescue remedy, lavender essential oil, a bag of bandages, and a handkerchief. If I need to travel light, I can simply remove this small bag and toss it in my shoulder bag.

The second zippered bag carries the additional tinctures I wanted to add to my first aid bag. They include oregon grape root, propolis, osha, cramp bark, yarrow, and calamus. I've also included an empty dropper bottle in case I need to mix up a combination tincture for someone or give them a dosage bottle. The last item in this bag is one eye piece from a an old set of swimming goggles. This is to be used as a travel eye wash cup so I don't need to pack a glass one. (I can't remember who gave me that idea, but I think it is genius.) All of the glass dropper bottles are half ounce size.

The rest of the contents of the big pocket are tucked around the two zippered bags. They include my inventory list, a thermometer, a bandage roll, a roll of vet wrap, three kinds of tape, charcoal powder, cayenne powder, an anti-inflammatory salve, an all purpose salve, a burn salve, a throat spray, a pair of reading glasses (useful when removing small splinters), and two ABD pads.

My bag also has two small pockets on the front. In one of these I have bandages of various sizes, including butterfly bandages and steri strips. In the other I have gauze and a pair of latex gloves.

And that's about it. Like I said, it is a work in progress and I'm sure it will morph over the years, but I'm  pretty happy with it for now. My bag hangs on a hook in the mud room, not far from the car keys. On my way out the door I grab it and plunk it in the car, which is usually where it stays, as I'm not often too far from the car these days. But it is light weight enough that it wouldn't be a problem to carry it along either. The removable essentials bag inside is great for conveniently carrying my most basic remedies (I will not be caught again at a wedding without my blackberry root...my students know what I refer to here). Many thanks to 7Song for inspiring this process and for his herbal first aid teachings!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Musings Down the Path...

mullein and me through a pin hole camera ~2001

I have come to realize lately that herbalism is my path. I don't mean simply that working with the healing plants is the career choice I have made, but more of a deeper study, a walking with, a way of being and seeing and exploring this earthly experience. Anything can be your path. For many people, religion is their path, but I feel that we can arrive at the deep understandings that life has to offer through just about any exploration, and the correct path for each individual is the one that makes their heart sing, the one that calls to them in soft whispers and tempts their curiosity.

For me, plants have always done this. And though I've always known that I have been drawn to working with the plants, I have only recently had the perspective to look back and see the beginnings of spiritual framework I didn't even know was being formed, all based on my work with the green ones.

Right from the beginning there has been a sense of wonder, of awe, in discovering the magic of the plants. Yes, we understand now more than ever the biological functions of botanical organisms and how they interact with the world, but we still are not anywhere near understanding all of it. And it seems the more we do understand, the more amazing it all seems.

Rumi once said we should trade our cleverness for wonder. And I am in wonder at the amazingness of the green world. They provide the air we need to breathe, they provide food that nourishes our body, and many other essentials for our lives. We've known about these gifts. But we are just beginning to understand how very amazing the green world really is. We are just beginning to understand that trees in a forest communicate with one another, and even share resource! We are just beginning to understand that the plants remove toxins, not just from our bodies, but from the earth! (yes, the herbicides you spray on your lawn will actually attract more weeds in the long run) We are just beginning to understand that we are biologically adapted to be in relationship with the green world, that we need a bit of the wild to be truly healthy, both physically and mentally.

When I first began to study the healing plants, I was amazed that the weeds growing outside my door could be used to restore my health. I now realize they do so much more. The healing plants are one of Nature's players on this living planet, and she moves them where they are needed most, whether it is our backyards, a crack in the pavement, or a Superfund site. The plants are working to clean up our mess as fast as they can. They are remineralizing the soils and breaking up hardpan. They are cleaning the wetlands and the waterways. They are removing chemicals and radiation. They are cleaning the air and feeding the entire plant kingdom. And they do all of this in the environment of our own bodies as well. How could we ever expect to outdo Nature in her infinite wisdom when it comes to bringing things back into balance?

And so, I walk my path, working with the plants, but also smiling with heart felt gratitude, for Nature's loving wisdom. And I wonder, how many of us can smile at every plant they see, no matter where it is growing, knowing that it is part of Nature's plan to bring things into balance again.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Two New Medicine Shares for the Winter Months...

The winter months are almost upon us.
And so, in the spirit of all that old man winter brings,

Nettlejuice Herbals Announces...

Two herbal medicine shares will be starting in November!

This is the second year I am offering a Winter Wellness Sweet Medicine share. Each month, for four months, folks will receive one bottle of herbal syrup and one bottle of herbal elixir. Every month will feature different formulas designed to get you through the winter months in herbal sweetness. 

This year I am also offering a Winter Skin Cream subscription as well. Each month will feature a different cream handcrafted and infused with herbal goodness. Just the thing to get through the dry winter months.

Details for both of these shares can be found on the pages above.
I will be accepting subscriptions for both shares until November 1st.

May the seasons turn with you in joy and delight.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Perilla frutescens

When this plant first caught my eye a few years ago I was so intrigued with its bold presence, strong structure and unique fragrance, I quickly set out identifying it. And once I realized what this beauty was I was overjoyed to have it growing in my earthspace. (This is often how I learn new plants these days...they come to me. It wasn't always this way. In my early days of plant identification I had it in my mind that I must be the intrepid wilderness hiker, traversing the landscape in search of the elusive medicinal wonders. And because I believed that, that is what happened. This is how I met poke, and skullcap, and mullein...only to realize that once I journeyed out across the vast woodland and fields to make these plants' acquaintances, I would then find them growing on the side of the road, in the vacant lot, through the cracks in the sidewalks. Ahhh, but that is the ultimate lesson in life. What we travel so far to seek is often right under our nose the whole time. But I am getting off the subject now. I wanted to introduce you to Shiso.....)

Shiso, otherwise known as perilla, otherwise known as Chinese basil, otherwise known as wild red basil, otherwise known as purple mint, otherwise known as rattlesnake weed, otherwise known as beefsteak plant (I don't like that name), otherwise known as summer coleus, a plant of many names, but little known or used in this part of the world. Shiso is an asian plant from the mint family that was brought to the United States in the 1800's by Asian immigrants and has since natralized. It is easily recognized as a mint by its square stem, opposite leaves and tiny mint-like flowers. The leaves are very fragrant, like many plants from the mint family and to me smell like a licorice basil of sorts. The stems and flowers are purple, and even the green leaves have a hint of purple, some being very purple underneath...

The plants in my garden are a good 4 to 5 feet tall right now and in full flower, with a very bushy and full structure. They could almost pass as small bushes. However, shiso is an annual and will die back at the end of the season, so harvesting now is priority for anyone who wants to make use of this lovely herb.

The leaves are edible and have been traditionally served with sushi. Because they are warming and stimulating to digestion, they balance the cold of the raw fish (as do ginger and wasabi). Shiso has a long history of use in Chinese Medicine, though it is little known in the west. The plant is an important  lung and digestion herb, useful for treating many conditions. Its properties include antiasthmatic, antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitussive, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, pectoral, restorative, stomachic, and tonic. What all of that means, basically, is that this plant is warming, calming, and toning, and will help to ease digestive woes, get rid of offending critters, ease a cough, expel fluid from the lungs and break a fever. All good stuff. Who wouldn't want it growing in their gardens?

This morning I harvested fresh shiso leaves for my morning tea. Although it has a very mild flavor (sweet licorice basil, like I said), the warmth in my lungs and chest was very noticeable on this chilly fall morning. Shiso can be taken this way daily as a tonic for the lungs as we move into the colder months of the year. But I am also making medicine to have on hand for treating conditions as they arise. In addition to making an elixir and drying the herb for tea, I plan on combining shiso with other lung herbs like mullein and coltsfoot. I'm also wondering about a syrup. Hmmmm......

Every new plant offers new possibilities. The best ones are the ones that come to you. Just leaving a little wild space in your yard invites them in. And with the right attitude, one of wonder, inquisitiveness, and gratitude, we can attract the most lovely beings into our experience.

The weed that will not go away and that you continually notice in irritation, the plant that regularly trips you as you walk through the field. Such plants are often some of the most powerful medicines you will find. They stir something in your unconscious, breaking through your habituated not noticing, and intrude on you until you begin to take a real look at them.                                      Stephen Harrod Buhner, Lost Language of Plants 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Garden Holds Me...

Usually when I write or teach about the healing plants, I speak of how individual or specific combinations of plants can be used to treat specific physical conditions. But sometimes life dishes out something that can't be soothed with a balm or syrup. There are wounds of the heart that lay hidden in intangible feelings of sadness and grief. When we suffer permanent losses that challenge our will to go through the mundane motions of daily life, these are not easy fixes, for any healing modality. And to be honest, I personally choose not to run from these difficult emotions. I don't go looking for a quick fix to take away the sadness, for I know that these inevitable times are meant to make us stronger and wiser as we continue on this earthwalk. Still, there is the need for something, something to comfort our journey and even help us along to the other side. Yes, there are flower essences and energy medicine, and healing crystals and I have used and loved them all. But simple comfort to be found in just being in nature is sometimes all I crave, especially when that nature is my own garden that I have tended for many years.

There is really no place I would rather be when I am hurting then sitting in my familiar earthspace, surrounded by the many plants that have become like friends over the years, and the creatures that share this space. An invisible magic happens here, like being held, accepted and nurtured. When the intention to create a healing space was set long ago, and gradually powerful healing plants were invited in, when the soil has been consistently cared for and the wild healers of the earth have been respected and allowed to do their work, when other creatures have been invited in to make their homes, when the nature spirits have been invoked and fairy houses have been build, when all these things combine, here there is a garden to heal the spirit.

There is no way to describe how it feels to live in such a garden of your own creation. I can see how it affects people when they come here, especially when they come from the city. And I feel so incredibly grateful to be blessed in such a way. To have the luxury of walking out of my door to inhale deeply of lilac flowers, or just sit and gaze at the unique beauty of the fringe tree in flower...

to examine the creamy silliness of cranberry viburnum's flower umbels, or just to listen to the endless birdsong in the trees, check in on mama wren sitting on her nest in the privy, or watch the tadpoles swimming endlessly in the pond. These are my treasures. They daily offer countless proof that no matter what else may happen, this world holds mind blowing beauty, and life continues on, that nature will always take the decay and build it into good earth again, that I am a part of that cycle. But even beyond what I see, acknowledge and contemplate, there is a healing energy in the garden that cannot be rationalized. Even when our minds continue to turn at 300 miles an hour and our awareness is off in some imaginary world so completely that we cannot see the beauty in front of us, still the garden works its magic.

This was always most apparent to me on the days when my dad would visit. He was a very cerebral person, always in his head, to the point of not noticing changes in his surroundings, and certainly not the tiny intricate details in the garden. I would often have to point out to him that he was standing in the flower beds, he seemed to never be able to see where the lawn ended and the beds began. Still, for all his not noticing, the garden did affect him in ways even he noticed. Like a sweet and tender song, the energy of the garden carries us gently from our worries and fear to a place of relaxation, where we are calmed and quieted enough to get the sleep we need. 

My garden is like a heartbeat, like the heartbeat of the earth, of Gaia, holding us in it's healing rhythm, synchronising us to the heartbeat of the mother. When I am away, and especially when I have to be in the city, it doesn't take long for my energy to become erratic. I feel disoriented. And when I return to the garden I feel it's effects on my energy immediately. My children will tell you I have been known to fall on my knees and kiss the earth after a difficult trip, such gratitude did I have for this beautiful space. 

These days I've  been turning to the sanctuary of my garden more often than usual. This spring I lost my dad. His sudden and unexpected death has been very challenging for me. I miss him terribly. But as I move through this grief, the garden holds me. Yes, have relied on my rose elixir and obsidian stone for their healing energy, but what I really need is space and time, and the garden allows me to just be with these feelings, to move through them in acceptance and love and light. Yes, I will go break a calamus leaf to inhale it's grounding aroma, but I will also just sit, and listen. Just as the garden continues to unfold in it's steady rhythm before my eyes, I know that I will emerge from this period of loss and move on with the march of life.

This garden has accepted the placentas of two of my children and fed good dirt to all three of them in their toddler years. It has received the bodies of many beloved dogs and cats. This week it also received the ashes of my father. We placed them in the garden that he could feel, even if he couldn't see. And in his memory, we planted a young mimosa tree. Although it is considered more of a weed tree here, the mimosa is known as the tree of collective happiness in Chinese Herbal Medicine. I think my dad would like that because like the Buddhist prayer, deep in his heart I think his one wish was for all beings to be happy and free. 

And so the garden grows. The medicine grows. The ancestors gather around. And I am held in the heartbeat of the mother as my heart heals once more. My wish is for everyone to have a garden that heals them, a piece of earth somewhere where they may connect with the earth energy and feel the heartbeat holding them. We are cared for and loved with every step we take on this planet, and for me the life to be found in the garden is the tangible expression of that love. 

The day after we planted dad's tree I sat in the garden alone. A sparrow came fluttering by to land on a low branch near me. At first I remained still and quite, thankful for the chance to observe the delicate creature so closely. When I moved and it did not fly I wondered if it might be injured, but it seemed perfectly healthy. Slowly I reached out and touched it gently on the head. Still it remained. I chanced another touch, this time gently stroking it's breast feathers. It stayed for a minute longer, and then fluttered away. This is the wonder the garden holds. I am blessed.

In loving memory of my dad, David Kisela. I know you are with me still.

"Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. 
Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are." 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Early Spring...In the Woods

This week I managed to get myself into the woods, alone.
I wanted to catch the first signs of stirring green. Soon these same brown, seemingly uneventful paths will be awash in leaves and life, but for now it is still the early morning hours of the year, and the early risers tend to be quiet and subdued, respecting the fact that others are still sleeping or just waking up, and not wanting to cause too much of a racket.

Down the low creek path there are trout lilly leaves just poking through the leaf litter,

and the skunk cabbages are beginning to leaf out.

And down in the hollow, where one of my sons found the leaves last year, the coltsfoot are flowering.

Here is the sideways view of the scale-like stems,

and an unopened bud, just lovely.

A few feet away a young snake was observing me (not a sight I see when my children are with me, as they tend to send anything that can move off into hiding with their raucous exuberance).

A bit further down the path, a spring fed area was filled with luscious chickweed and cleavers,

as well as some young jewelweed just coming up, with cotyledons still showing.

Up hill a bit I found the first spring beauties, so delicate,

and dapples of bloodroot, the leaves still curled.

Down to the creek again to find tons of beautiful watercress (and wishing I had brought along a plastic bag for harvesting).

A lovely patch of nettles also gathered at the stream bank, offering a leaf or two to munch.

As I sat among these waking woods, listening to the caws of crows and twittering of songbirds, I closed my eyes. Soon I could hear a rustle in the leaf litter all around me. Opening my eyes again I focused my attention on the direction of the sounds to observe spiders and insects emerging and scuttling around. Life all around me is stirring and rousing. It is lovely to witness this every year, the earth's return to growth and activity. Merry Spring!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Kitchen Herbalist...

I often tell people that a day hardly goes by that I don't turn to the healing plants in some way, shape or form. But I rarely actually take the time to list all the herbal encounters I have in any given day. So ubiquitous have the healing plants become in my life that they are just part of the flow, grabbed in a moment of need and then forgotten as the next exciting moment unfolds.

Today, however, I found myself mentally keeping track and I thought it might make a good illustration for folks just starting to bring herbal medicine into their lives to get a glimpse of just how useful and relied upon this practice can be. So, here it goes...

A day in the life of one family, with three young boys, using herbal medicine for whatever comes up...

1. Yesterday my husband had some teeth extracted at the dentist. I had treated his gums last night, but he said he could taste blood, so I soaked some gauze pads in yarrow tincture and had him bite down on them for about twenty minutes to stop the bleeding and tighten the tissues. Before he left for work I put propolis on his gums as a kind of sticky antiseptic, and gave him a bottle of anti-inflammatory tincture to take every couple hours (willow, meadowsweet and a small amount of lobelia).

2. I made my daily decoction of root tea for myself. Right now it is a blend of dandelion root, burdock root, yellowdock root, ginger, wild yam, angelica, and licorice root.

3. Later in the morning Leif picked off a scab and started whining that his boo boo hurt. He demanded salve and a band aid. We put on some homemade calendula salve and bandaged him up, which made everything better.

4. I remembered that we were out of tooth powder in the bathroom, so I made a fresh batch. Right now the ever evolving recipe is a mixture of powdered herbs (marshmallow, oak bark, licorice root), clay powder, baking soda, and essential oils of peppermint and spearmint.

5. I began to feel a cold sore coming on in the morning, so all day long I would dab on some st. john's wort oil every time I went into the bathroom to try to heal it up quickly.

6. After running around with his brothers outside, then coming in to scarf down his dinner and running back outside again, Alden came in with a tummy ache. I gave him a teaspoon of spicy electuary and said to give it 15 minutes. He was back outside in ten, with nary an ache.

7. Just before bed Alden was cleaning up and dropped the pencil box on his toes, smashing two of them. I gave him arnica, and dabbed on some bruise and trauma salve before wrapping band aids around them.

I think that is it, though in all honesty I may have left something out. Somehow Rainer, my oldest boy, managed to not need any emergency care today. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Herbalist 7song, who often runs first aid stations at big events like Rainbow Gathering, has said that herbal first aid is not for the squeamish, that the first aid station is where folks are hurting and unhappy and bleeding and puking... Well, that sounds a lot like being a mom. I don't know if I'll ever be working a first aid station, but life here at the home front, with three active boys and a partner who builds, fixes and maintains everything around here can sometimes feel like a first aid station. Knowing the herbs, making medicines, and being prepared has helped me become empowered, overcome squeamishness, and bring comfort and relief to my family. I'm grateful for this path and the plants that grow around me every single day.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Garlic Mustard

I promise I'll be writing new posts soon. The birds are returning and the plants are waking up and I am getting my camera ready. For now though, I'm going to repost an oldie from my original blog that I wrote back in 2009, albeit a little later in the spring than we are now. Garlic mustard is just beginning to emerge around here in mid-March. Consider it inspiration for all those edibles just starting to pop up. Garlic mustard is just one of the many plants we'll be meeting and tasting in this month's Folk Herbalism class.

Garlic mustard is a biennial of the mustard family (Cruciferae). Above is a photo of first year leaves emerging en masse under the Lilac.

And here are early second year leaves I photoed earlier in the spring.

Now those same plants look more like this (above), with tiny white flower beginning to open.
The leaves, blossoms and seed pods of this plant are edible and have a definite spicy, garlicy taste that is really not unpleasant. Garlic mustard is a main ingredient in my wild greens pesto, and also goes well mixed into a mesclun salad mix.

Maude Grieve had written that garlic mustard "warms the stomach and strengthens the digestive faculties," and can be used externally as an antiseptic for gangrene and ulcers.

This month garlic mustard was featured in Rainer's Ranger Rick magazine in an article entitled, "America's Least Wanted." It is the same argument about invasive species of plants and animals that "came from other parts of the world, where they naturally belonged (my italics)" Garlic mustard is charged with crowding out native plants. There is also a recipe for garlic mustard pesto in a section called "Eat Your Enemy." I think it's wonderful that young people reading this magazine will become aware they can eat garlic mustard (though I do think my pesto recipe is better, ahem), but I am saddened that they are encouraged to think of this wonderful plant as an enemy.

(now for the rant)
I understand the angle of those who argue the threat of "exotic invasive" species to "native" species. Yet if we think more deeply about this issue it begins to get progressively vague and questionable. What is a native species? One that has been here for a hundred? Five hundred? What about those carried by animals (birds for instance)? Species of plants and animals (including humans) have been on the move over the surface of the earth from the beginning. Balances are upset, and re-established. It's all part of the cosmic dance. As Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier state in their tome Edible Forest Gardens, "the fact is that species disperse into new habitats all the time, even across large expanses of ocean. They also naturalize and integrate into new ecological communities all the time, and they do so at different rates depending on the characteristics of the species, the environment, and the ecosystem's other inhabitants." In my heart I do not feel that labeling some living thing as "invasive," "alien," or "enemy" does any good to bring things back into balance. And to be quite honest, it reminds me of the ugly way some Americans speak of immigrants to this country (as if any of us are not descended from immigrants). As Jacke and Toensmeier go on to say, "not only are ecosystems dynamic and ever changing, but so is our understanding of them." Let's open our minds and hearts to new possible understandings about why these plants and animals are here, and indeed why we are here, and what we can learn from one another.

Song of the Garlic Mustard
(in America)

You call me invasive.
You say I'm a pest.
But I have my gifts
Along with the rest.

In the Old World I'm valued,
A edible weed;
In the New World I'm chided
For my prodigious seed.

Yet these same critics came
From the Old World as well,
And altered the balance
In ways too harsh to tell.

We're both here to stay,
That's plain as can be,
So I'll value you,
If you value me.

Now let's work together
In mutual joy,
And bring a new balance
For all to enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

2013 Class Schedule and Medicine Share Info...

photo by Amelia Rehrman
As winter slowly releases it's grip on the land plants begin to emerge and sap begins to run once again. In a few short weeks we will again be greeting some of our favorite healing and tonic plants, and so begins another season of growing, harvesting and medicine making. I've finally got the 2013 class schedule up for the folk herbalism series. Each month I offer a two hour class here at my home and garden outside of Oxford, Pa. All the details can be found here

The first class will be in March and it is always one of my favorites, introducing folks to the edible and tonic spring greens that are commonly referred to as "weeds". We will be identifying, munching and sipping many of the plants folks tend to curse and pull and poison, not realizing they may be exactly what they need to increase their overall health and vigour, especially after the long wither months.

Medicine Shares for the 2013 season are also available now. I have divided the shares into two seasons this year. Each season is three months long, and includes three handcrafted herbal products each month. You can sign up for one or both seasons, and choose to come out to pick up your medicine or have it shipped. I am also working on a pick up location in Delaware, to save some folks a trip. I had so much fun making natural healing products for folks last year, and it was great to hear all your stories about how they came in handy for you as well. All of the details about this year's CSM can be found here.

Also this year, I am hoping to begin having some guest teachers from the area out to offer classes as well. Stay tuned for more info to follow. Anyone with questions about classes or the medicine shares can e-mail me at nettlejuice@gmail.com

In good medicine,

Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter Medicine

During the chill of winter I tend not to write much in this space and I think that is for several reasons. In  the cold months when the garden is sleeping I tend to withdraw a bit too, pulling in my energy and turning inward for a time of reflection and then planning for the next season. I also find much of my inspiration for these posts from the living plants themselves, so when I'm not working with them I don't often think to share something here. But the plants are still very much a part of my life in the winter months. I have my store of dried herbs from the summer, as well as homemade elixirs, tinctures, oils, salves and other medicine to draw upon. Inevitably I will find that I should harvested more of this or that, but I am always grateful for the time I did take to gather and preserve during the growing season.

Daily I make my teas and nourishing infusions with these stores. I am in constant need of a mug of something hot in my hands in wintertime, and so if I don't make these lovely herbal teas I run the risk of consuming too much black tea (especially earl grey, yum!). Right now my daily infusion is a formula containing gotu kola, alfalfa, skullcap, wood betony and spearmint. This is a calming, nourishing blend that is a nervous system tonic. Gotu kola especially is an incredible plant for preventing stress and fatigue, reducing anxiety, improving memory, and increasing circulation. All good stuff. 

Also this winter, I am having a lot of fun creating yummy syrups and elixirs for the folks who signed up for the sweet medicine shares. Simmering down the syrups for hours, watching the plant particles swirling around, is a beautiful process. 

The elixirs take longer to make (six weeks), and daily I am shaking the jars to get everything moving around in there. When they are finally ready to be strained and bottled it is always exciting to see and smell and taste when the combination of herbs, alcohol, honey, time and energy has transformed into.

Then it's bottling and labeling and getting the medicine out to folks. Thanks to all those who signed up for this winter's sweet medicine share. You are keeping me busy, creative, and working with the healing plants, which is exactly where I want to be.