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Herbal Resurgence

It’s been a week now since I’ve been away from my friends and I am sitting here missing them like mad, tonight.   The Herbal Resurgence Gathering has come and gone, for 2013.  The attendees  are all home to our various communities feeling recharged and inspired.  As always, there was something about the feeling of camaraderie  that occurs at this conference that makes you wish you could bottle it and just take little sips all year long.

Also appealing is the fact that MormoTWHC 095n Lake is a beautiful place. That  first night wandering around on the mountaintop campsite, illuminated by the light of the full moon, reminded me that this gathering was a timeless event. Since the very earliest days, people have been drawn to converge on places like this. Snuggling in my sleeping bag; listening to the elk bugle lulled me to sleep faster than any lullaby.

I have to admit, I am prone to choosing to attend the classes held outdoors. Learning underneath the towering pines is infinitely preferable to being stuck in a hotel conference room.   The trees hold us in their healing energy and open our heart and our minds to the messages we are hearing.  No class made that more clear than the class Julie Caldwell taught on Sentience of Place. I also think that I think teaching in that environment brings out the best presentations, as well.

TWHC 103There were so many amazing offerings this year, it was hard to choose between them all.  Teaching myself this year,  made that even more challenging.  I missed some classes I really wanted to attend, especially Sean and Jim’s class which I heard was amazing.  Still, I managed to get my fill of herbal wisdom.  I finally  got to take a couple of classes  from Matt Wood on Tongue and Pulse diagnosis.  Larken Bunce’s presentation on her work with free clinics was inspiring and Sam Coffman’s class on GMP’s was almost enough to make me relax about that issue,  just  a little.    I was especially happy to watch  my friend Traci’s class on holistic body image because she brought up a lot of topics that need to be discussed and addressed about we as providers approach the idea of encouraging a positive self-image in our clients.

TWHC 044Even the vending hall is just fun.  Instead of a place where people are trying to sell you stuff, it takes on the its own unique character as a social  gathering place and a venue for learning.    The medicine makers who come to this conference freely share their wisdom and ideas.  Rebecca outdid herself this year with inspiring new products and familiar favorites.

I am always amazed by the fact that year after year Kiva and Wolf manage to send participants home fired and ready to take herbalism back to the people in their communities.   The people who come to this conference aren’t just business people or  there to network.  They are people who share a calling- each one of them is lured by the plants to spread a message of empowerment and independence.  And the plants connect us all in a

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way that the term colleague doesn’t quite cover.    It is an honor, and a blessing, to be a part of that community.

See more pictures in my Facebook album.

Garden Therapy

IMG_7690 copyThe cherry blossoms are blooming and the land is finally coming back-to-life.   I spent the last two days gleefully playing in the dirt and have found something coming back to life in me, as well.    The last full moon brought with it the tumultuous charge of new learning and responsibilities.    I find my peace and respite from the chaos in my garden.  It is my balance.

The new additions to the family.

The new additions to the family.

I am so busy with all my work, but today when I was turning the soil, planting and mulching, I felt carefree.   I only became momentarily overwhelmed when I saw how much work there is to done in the back,  after last summer’s decimation.  I admit to shedding a momentary tear because it looks as though it was too much for my 2-year-old goldenseal and stone root.  I decided to catalogue my garden while I do my work, partly to make myself feel better about those plants I did lose to the drought.


I suddenly feel settled here.   There is a spot in my garden,  between my rugosas and  the yew that calls to me.    For a few years now this spot has called to me to plant a hawthorn there.  For whatever reason, I have put this off.  I somehow feel that planting it there will anchor me to this spot, in some way that I don’t understand.   After I nestled the angelica in front of the roses today, the spot almost sang to me.  I think my design friends would be pretty appalled by the way my garden is planned.     I came in from my work,  sat down and ordered my hawthorn from Richo along with a few other plants I need for the front yard before I move into the back.


Herbs I Have Growing




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Anise Hyssop
Black Cohosh (new in 2013)
Bloodroot (new in 2013)
Evening Primrose
Flat Leaf Parsley

Hawthorn (new in 2013)
Lady’s Mantle
Lemon Balm
Monarda fistulosa



R. Rugosa
Red Clover
Red Raspberry
Solomon’s Seal (new in 2013)
Trillium (new in 2013)
Tulsi (annual)
St. John’s Wort
Stinging Nettle
Sweet Basil
Sweet Woodruff

Vervain (new in 2013)

This American Life :-(

The new babe and her mama, sleeping peacefully…

Sorry it has been awhile,  but as you can see we’ve been busy around here.      I was going to go on a tangent about caring for a pregnant mama with nutrition and herbs, but I feel like that has been done.
I sometimes worry that we focus so much on the nuts-and-bolts of wellness after pregnanacy that we forget to tend to  a new mother’s spiritual and emotional well-being.   Due to the medical interventions which lead to traumatic birth experiences, many mothers are left emotionally shaken and weak after their births.  As if the stress of  childbirth, weren’t enough, they are then sent home with a newborn to fend for themselves.  Even those women with partners are unlikely to have much support.   Very few people get paternal leave that is much more than a week, or so.

Postpartum doulas can fill this gap for mothers who are well-to-do.   I am sure some people might argue this statement with me, but I contend if you are financially well-off enough to afford the doula, then you are better off than a goodly percentage of the population.   Honestly though,  I can count on one hand any mothers who had much  post-partum support, of any sort.

I remember when my last child was born.  My husband works for a company that supposedly gives paternal  leave.    I had a ten-pound baby at 10:30 in the morning and his employers were trying to get him to come into work that afternoon.   He left me alone with a newborn and a 3 year-old at five the next morning and I had to muddle through the best I could, until help came later that day.    My midwife was not happy, but what can you do?   In this economy,  it isn’t as if those with jobs can afford to stick up for their rights.  It seems my situation is fairly typical of the stories I’ve heard.

So those thoughts led me to start thinking about the issue of stress, again.   Sometimes, it seems like the cards are stacked against us, doesn’t it?

I get that life has always been stressful but in previous generations,  the stimulus elicited a  response which effectively worked off the parasympathetic response.   Today, stress eats and people and festers in their bodies, having disastrous effects.

Really what does one have to be willing to give up in order to be healthy?  I feel like the answer to that question isn’t necessarily realistic for most Americans, but I feel like the changes have to be made.  I think the most fundamental change needs to be in the way most of us earn a living.

What about you?   How do you feel the stress everyday life impacts you?   What changes have you made in your life to reduce stress levels?    Perhaps more to the point;  what changes do we need to make to our society to help everyone achieve health?

My Shiny New Toy

Decanting my Elderberry Elixir

For years I’ve been eying tincture presses, online.  I don’t need one of those huge industrial models.   I only make tinctures for personal use and that would be silly and wasteful.   On the other hand, alcohol and oils are expensive and I’ve always felt like I am throwing money out with the herbal material. I also wanted to make sure that my press meets certain standards such as only stainless steel touching the extracts.

Secretly, I’ve often wondered if the most potent or yummy drop of herbal goodness weren’t the ones going in the compost?  I spent a lot of time decanting today.  The new moon is this weekend and I want to start some new extracts, which means clearing room.   I struggled with the design a bit at first, but once I got going it worked really well.   It got a lot better return than I usually do from a pint of tinctured herbs, so I am convinced that the press will pay for itself in the short-term.

In other news, the herb closet is getting full and it isn’t even fall.    I am going to have to figure out so re-organizational stuff, soon.    One thing that helps is that we have the second fridge running now and I am going to keep my infused oils and vinegars in the fridge.   It certainly isn’t necessary but will probably extend their life.

I suppose at some point,  I have to decide when enough is enough and I have moved from the point of being useful to being over-the-top.  My kids would probably say I am there already.  My local friends should keep in mind that if they are looking for something,   I probably have it tucked away in my herb closet.