When I lived in Montana as a young(er)-adventuring-fly-fishing-outdoor-educator, I dreamed about the east coast fall I grew up knowing, where the leaves change a million different shades of yellow, orange, green and brown. This dream is real right now in Vermont, and as the magic ensues, I remember with heart pangs the autumn of Montana: super dry, sunny, yellow aspens and evergreen trees. It's the time of year I feel so so deeply in my feelings. How about you? In Traditional Chinese Medicine, nostalgia is regarded as the primary emotion of autumn. Back in Montana, I was nostalgic about the autumns I once knew out east. Now I can find myself nostalgic about those I've also once loved out west. It's not exactly one of those "grass is always greener" situations, really. It's just nostalgia.
It's the way I feel about the kids growing up, like when you notice they seem to have grown overnight....or their favorite t-shirt, unearthed from the bin of winter clothing, falls two inches abo...
Echinacea is a powerful herb that is most appropriately used at the onset and beginning of cold or flu symptoms. Anti-inflammatory, immunostimulant, antiviral and antibacterial, Echinacea actually stimulates the process of phagocytosis. In common speak, it ignites the body's cells to eradicate viruses by gobbling them up. This is truly a plant that displays an innate intelligence. It is in fact, more of a leader in the human body than a responder, research is being conducted to prove that echinacea can be a key player in healing cancer. And it's gawww-geous in the garden!
Echinacea Leaf and Flower
100 proof Vodka
Glass Jar with lid
Ask and bless and make an offering, as you would with anything. Do not take echinacea without first asking. This plant medicine is as powerful as one's humility, gratitude and blessings.
Remove leaves and flowers from the stems. Compost the stems.
Chop leaves and flowers into tiny bits. Place them in a jar. Cover with alcohol that is...
My Great Aunt Macie, a native West Virginian, and I excitedly discovered a few years ago that we both enjoy harvesting ramps (wild leeks). In her strong southern drawl, she shared a story in which she arose before dawn to walk the Appalachian hills with her mama to harvest ramps before the heat of the day set in over the leafless deciduous forest. In springtime, they lived off of foraged wilds and in the fall, apple pie. The twinkle in her eye expressed her joy, and her description clarified that her family respected the land and foraged in a way which considered future generations of subsistence foragers.
I believe it's still incredibly important to harvest the wild plants we choose to harvest with ethics and integrity, often this means we leave them in place, untouched.
When harvesting ramps, I like to follow some rules of sustainable & ethical harvest. They're sort of a mish-mash of discreet considerations that have come my way from many teachers -human, plant, animal and spirit-along...
A huge thing has happened. The kids can stay home by themselves for a few hours at a time. That's it. That's the huge thing. It's literally a new phase that I didn't know we were coming upon. I can now work longer than 5.5 hours per day before rushing to pick them up at school!! I am finishing projects in the same day they were begun!
My sweetie and I can put a movie on for them and scoot over to the little hardware-store-turned-tiny-draught-house on a Saturday night for a local beer while perched on a pile of bags of birdseed. I've unknowingly been awaiting this time while learning the patience that compassion arises from parenting. (This Aries moon, Capricorn rising lady had very little patience until the babies came along....with regard to her work in the world, anyway.) So now I'm stepping into offering these musings that have been bubbling up inside of the creative pockets of my heart over the last decade (plus two years). I sat down with some over sized drawing papers, and out of...
Here we are, in the season between Imbolc (also observed as Groundhog Day, February 1) and Spring Equinox (March 21). Imbolc, a Celtic named holiday, celebrates the first wakings of the rootlings under the earth, readying themselves for the new sprouts that are almost ready to break the surface of the sopping wet ground. While we celebrate it here, it's much more applicable of a vision for, say Ireland, or even Virginia. For today in Central Vermont, I sit typing in my favorite chartreuse velour armchair by the wood stove, watching the blizzard continue to fall outside. It's cozy, it's slow, there's a certain amount of forced momentum that is needed to access the movement I know makes my body and mind feel best. I usually find this momentum inspired by the caffeine that enters my life in the form of full test Turkish coffee every morning from around mid-November until usually sometime near when the songbirds start nesting in May. Then, on most days, the sun's light and the bird song su...
Winter solstice is upon us and the longest night of the year has begun. The tiny snow cave, just outside the window, will welcome back the winter faeries tonight. It is lit and left with a thimble of chamomile tea and a bite of chocolate cake. They take flight, you know, on this night and need food and sustenance along the way. One year we built them a small swimming pool, and another year we covered a cardboard box in moss and evergreens since there was yet no snow. This is the first year that the kids don't believe in the winter faeries. But it's okay, I've learned many years ago that being invisible does not negate their existence. It is from this foundation that most of our spirit world rests. Some call it faith. Some leave a spirit plate for the ancestors. Some call it magic, or reverence, or presence. Sometimes we humans take a long break from believing something exists that we cannot see. Then we come to a time when we need a little something more than ourselves to exist in thi...
I’ve joined the ranks of northern dwellers who have traded in their winter therapy sessions for dreaming of the garden. It’s much cheaper, it's incredibly therapeutic and I find there are more artistic elements to it. I’ve had the vernal equinox marked on my calendar with a big star since the first of the year. While it epitomizes of my favorite themes- light defeating the darkness- it means because of this, that it’s time to plant perennial seeds indoors in little pots! The week was met with so much joy as I traveled to our Tea Project Schools to join the children in planting perennial herb seeds for our school gardens in the late spring.
There’s two feet of snow on the ground today and my driveway is unplowed, so I back my station wagon out of the steep, curved hill to utilize my front wheel drive as rear wheel drive. It takes multiple tries, but I make it. In the trunk are two buckets full of moistened organic potting soil, some trowels and a shallow tub. I wheel these supplies...
"The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~Anaïs Nin
Every time I ponder this quote I picture rose.
It could be any flower: an apple blossom, lily, crocus, or blue flag iris. But it's always a rose in my mind's eye ~medicine of the heart.
The simple five-petaled rose bush grows wild along the Vermont countryside, in gardens, sometimes long forgotten, but still blooming on edges of yards from long ago. When we harvest the bloom of the Rugosa Rose, this introduced-gone-wild variety, we snip the flower head from the stem with a whisper of gratitude and place it into the basket, often to the hum of bees.
As long as we continue to snip the flower heads off, the plant, as any healthy flowering plant will do, continues to produce buds and flowers reaching for its final stage of seed.
I'm old enough to not be amazed by this, but why bother with NOT being amazed if given the choice!
Winter's darkest night has arrived. Inspired by the longest night, am trying to prioritize sleep, I swear! It is the most natural thing for our bodies to turn toward this time of year, and yet it can be an elusive routine for many reasons.
Here are a couple of my reasons this season:
~The gift muse has arrived and I cannot stop making the most amazing herbal holiday gifts late into the night
~Late night online shopping (I endorse shopping locally, but it's so fun to window shop!)
~I fall asleep at 8 with the kids and awaken at 11:30, ready for some "me" time. Seriously, can I consider latent insomnia "me" time? It's all in the attitude!
~Straight up Insomnia
Insomnia is one reason that can perplex even those who are incredibly type A with their sleep hygiene (dark room, lights out by 10, no screens after dinner, dim lights in the evening, low stimulation).
Introducing our favorite nourishing adaptogen for sleep, Ashwaganda, or Withania somnifera. She brings the strength of...
When the soil is still workable in late fall, a gardener will garden. And when the soil is frozen, a gardener will use bags of sand, pebbles and soil to build a raised garden bed - in preparation for springtime!
PreK through second grade students at Moretown Elementary spent a day building a circular "Tortuga" garden together as an effort to make more garden space for perennial herbs they will plant in the spring.
As part of "The Tea Project", students are gathering, drying and using herbs to make and learn about herbal teas, their benefits to the body, and how their body feels in response to drinking the tea.
These students are very hard workers, filled with grit and resilience. The photos speak for themselves.