There are moments – hours, and if I’m lucky, whole days where life feels like this, in the Hills in the Spring….that is to say, BEAUTIFUL. Every year it amazes me exactly the same way as in years past; one day we have endless acres of snow, then there’s some wild runoff and crazy steaming energy from the ground, it’s impossible to walk anywhere – then it’s brown and drab for about a week, and then… Paradise is upon us. Every day a new bird – Mourning doves, grackles, robins, phoebes, goldfinches, orioles, rose breasted grosbeaks, many sparrows and warblers, the meadowlark, mockingbird, great blue heron and more. A riot of colour at the feeders, and song on the air. The Harrier in his ghostly grey-white phase soars lazily over the back field, hunting, watching, riding the breeze. At dusk, a variety of owls call softly across the open fields, and sounds arise from the willow-lined stream that even after 22 years in this area, I can’t identify.
The air itself is new and happy.
Every day; new shoots in the forest, buds opening everywhere, my perennials leap from the ground in a miracle of beauty; dandelions explode on the grass, baby plants unfurl from their small starter homes to astonish me every time with the range of uniqueness and longing for the earth. This is also a busy busy time; gardening chores, pulling up some plants (teasel) and moving others (mullein, she will grow where she pleases, and never anywhere convenient) gathering dandelions and tender nettles for tinctures, vinegars and tea. There never seem to be enough time, even if I had nothing at all else to do, there’s never enough time. The trick – I am learning! Is to select the few key things that I really cannot miss doing, and do them. I can’t do all of it, so I need to be strategic. Here, then, are a few of my spring-things for this Turn of the Wheel. It varies, according to many factors, but this is the song of my time right now, this Quickening, this glorious Spring of 2012.
Like probably every other herbalist on the planet, I’m gathering flowers, leaves and roots for tincture, vinegar, oil and to use in many varied and delicious recipes. The flowers are macerated in almond oil for a few weeks, wrapped in a napkin and set on a sunny window, for massage oil- also to combine with goldenrod, poplar, willow for a deeply healing muscle salve. Leaves soak in unpasteurized apple cider vinegar ( use only vinegars stored in glass) and then strained, mixed with olive oil for dressings, added to steamed veggies, or taken in a glass of water daily as a nourishing and restorative sprig tonic. Tinctures of leaf, leaf and spring root and root alone brew into medicine that will relieve edema, tonify digestion and liver, and add a range of nourishing minerals to the body. They’re not here for long so I tend to make medicine quite vigorously right now. 🙂 And don’t forget to chop the leaves finely into your dog’s food – they need spring tonics too, and old ones can really benefti from the digestive tonic and liver support. More on “d’lion” as Susun Weed says, to follow. We all know this plant – we all have our own tales to share.
Birch elixir and oil – I found a downed tree just a couple of weeks ago and made birch twig elixir – as the leaves come out, it’s time for an oil and straight tincture. So many uses, I will do a full entry in the weeks ahead.
Young Nettles: Tincture, and three of us here are on it (allergies!) but also wonderful in pesto, soups, stews and more.
Teasel Root: Some of my Facebook friends will be tired of hearing me moan about this process – digging, washing, chopping and tincturing. Well – it’s worth it! Powerful medicine for so many issues, a specific for Lyme disease,and with all the ticks I fear more dogs (and humans) will be infected.
Willow oil (and besoms, wands and runes) – salicin is present in all our willow species, and the connotations with the Moon, the Night, the dark feminine is omnipresent.
Mugwort: I use the young plant in vinegar.(I just ate a few bitter young leaves, too). Make a dream pillow for prophetic nighttime oracles, and tincture some in vinegar for a whole host of healing uses. (Did you know I was going to say – more to follow?)
Motherwort and Comfrey are high on the harvest list too, but I will wait until they both flower to take leaves for medicine.
Forest beauty – here’s what I found on my most recent walk.
Violets, everywhere, all description, beautiful, healing and such a harbinger of Spring. This first one is Viola pubescens, edible, medicinal and soo pretty. Other varieties abound.
Asarum canadense – Wild ginger – a full monograph to follow.
Caulophyllum thalictroides – Blue Cohosh.
My beautiful home…forest and field, village and beyond.
The forest opens herself every day more and more deeply. Spring sings in the North – a wild, ancient, healing and beautiful song. We are so blessed to walk upon Gaia and learn Her song. Mitakuye Oyasin!