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we’ve been working, learning, and playing with color with the growth in the garden over the past month.  were immersed in Red during this strawberry moon::clover, roses, and juicy sweet burgundy cherries.

red clover took over the garden during our month out westwardly, ran right over and through the strawberries so the few we find are a burst-in-the-mouth delight!  as a result we got to pick and dry and eat, drink, and be merry with clover right here at our homestead (instead of long forays wildcrafting in meadows off the backroads like years of yore), thank you clover for being Here with us this year 🙂  new way to enjoy::clover blended with rose petals and strawberries in a second ferment for kombucha . . Yes!! the full moon’s come and gone and she asked that we leave her be, she’ll share the rest of her juicy abundance with the bees . . . . . so we gather with her and watch the bees, smell the air around her, and occasionally pop a blossom in our mouths as a thirst quencher.

the rose bushes we’re gathering already fallen petals from (as freshly dropped as possible) with the hopes that this will bring in more hips in the fall than in the past, we’ll see later. . . in the meantime the magenta petals float atop our daily water, are steeped with clover, hibiscus, and hawthorn for a good HeartTea to sip on, have been infused in oil for salves and we’re going to make rose beads once more. in kombucha: fresh rose petals and fresh mint with vanilla bean steeped in a simple syrup, blended to as paste and then dolloped into the bottles make a curiousity peaking 2nd ferment 🙂

as for the cherries: they came and we baked pies, tarts, brandied them with cardamom, vanilla bean, and cocoa nibs, skewered them, smoothied them, ate them, thoroughly enjoyed them, and froze as much as we could stand to put away for later, now they’re gone (thank you cherries, we’ll remember Jasper reaching out to pick his first ever fruit, alive off your branches, his eyes round face stained stretching to join in the picking for a long time to come yet!!).

the energy is shifting to orange in our immediate exploration of the color wheel . . .  though the full rainbow is presently growing out of the earth (and as we track the growth i have a feeling that we’ll see it always does this); for now it’s strongly represented by yellow evening primrose, dill, cornflowers, blueberries, and comfrey flowers shining forth, but back to orange:::the daylilies are budding, blooming and unfurling everywhere, so fine, as well as peaches on the trees we planted 4 years ago.

Layla and i amused ourselves with a poetic foray that came from her playing secretary to my dictation; she wrote what i bespoke as my hands were holding a sleeping/nursing baby . . .. she was very much tickled by my lofty tofty words (such as augment and augur and capricious) and proceeded to elocute my ditties in such haughty high falluten tones that we were both in stitches and quietened down lest we wake up the baby, we like him getting a good restful nap.  that’s when she started playing around with my poetic verse and wrote this poem i’ve posted (with her permission, she said only as long as i posted one of my high falluten high-koos too  😉 . . . . i didn’t previously know she wrote ‘shakesparean’ as she calls it, and as it turns out so does Aamee, neither of them could track back how they came about this kind of speech, but they can chitter this way for a while! as it also turns out, isha and anousheh went out to take pictures of daylilies while we poetized, so we all played together, learning something new in joy, enjoy!

Mariam’s Haiku

daylily come be

a caduceus for me

clarity delights

 

 

Layla’s Poem

day lily,

dost thou unfold?

i beg of thee,

come, be bold!

reveal thy beauty before my eyes

your speckled flowers charm the skies.

gathering time

creek

The gathering time is here again,

To gather with our plant friends deeply drawing in their smells

While they breathe in ours . . .

The sharing time is here again,

To share with our plant friends a smile, a laugh, a touch, a listening

While they speak for hours . . . .

I love this time of year when the smell of propolis is strong up above the spring, mixed with pine, and we’re stopping in meadows, sun streaming over us and our feet go cool into the creek and there, there there is water mint, sweet and refreshing to be with.  Sitting for a while, awareness sharpens, bee sounds are suddenly loud and then become part of the in breath, out breath, woodpecker hello!  There’s a lilting voice and a chatter mixed in with a squeal every now and then, part of the cadence, the new rythym since our arrival, the old makes way for us, generously giving space to life and we join in, doing our water dance in the creek, while a trout darts by a few times and the ants go back to doing what they’ve been doing long before we came . . . .

It’s *that* time of year but it’s not the same even though it’s *that* time, a funny thing this wheel turning us around or are we turning it around or neither nigh-ther . . . . last year we gathered baskets of juicy chickweed and cleavers catching on our clothes, furry burdock leaves, comfrey stalk, flower, and leaf . . . not this year at that time, instead we go play in the fields of fresh blooming red clover blossoms before they’re moved down after which their sweet smell lingers on and we taste it in the milk from the farm on that side of the valley below, and while we gather the clovers sing to us to pick the ones the bees leave, the bee kissed ones, so we do, and we take them back to tincture, to dry, to steep in honey for green mead in the autumn, to infuse oil, and in queen of hungary’s water (to which i’ve added peach and strawberry leaves, chamomile, comfrey, and a mixture of fresh rose petals) . . .  is it even the queen’s water anymore!?

happily we leave much of it to the bees and turn homeward, to motherwort.  she’s so stately this year: tall, filled out and bushy and lightly flowering on top though the bumble bees haven’ t found her yet . . . once they’ve worked her over, then the heat dries her to yellow from the inside out and she looks half baked, parched, spent, changed.  but at this moment she’s in her full glory and whispers of how she can help me later in those long, sunnless days when my temper grows inside me like thunder coiled up keeping me hot when it’s so cold all around, snake rising rising energy that can be spent, discharged in useless words and anger, leaving me parched, half baked, or stored where it becomes an internal heater during the hibernation time yet a challenge to keep in check, so motherwort says she’ll help me with that part and into a jar she goes . . .. yes it’s *that* time of year yet it’s not . . . .

What lies ahead, I wonder, as I watch small hands gather beside me and notice with a start that some of those hands are no longer small but the size of my own, a woman’s hands, and rounding the bend a truck slows down to a crawl and the driver’s a young fella who honks and lifts his hat and smiles and winks and his gaze is upon my daughter, who picks blossoms with care, dagger tucked in her waistband, a warrior, a maiden, no damsel in distress her eyes flash and her nostrils flare as though she’s aware with her flashing skirts, barefeet, and basket of flowers the picture she makes in the green green grasses!  The wheel turns and turns and I plunge the dasher, churning churning, turning turning all that cream into butter . . . .

sweet

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On the menu . . . wild edibles

Today I planted onions and harvested marshmallow roots (only way to describe the taste is earthy and mellow) and rhubarb all alone.  The children have been stuffed up over the past four days . . . with the exception of Girl, who pretends during the course of the day that she too is stuffy and changes into her nightie to go and rest before emerging full dressed in day clothes to go and check eggs since she’s ‘well’.  The other three have taken to their rooms, where they are plied with wildweed broth, rosehip ‘jam’, marshmallow roots, violet paste, napkins, and Asterix comic books.  The season is abundant with healing foods, so I’ve been busy infusing, cooking, decocting, and wildcrafting, between feeding and reading The Book of Three to the children.

There is so much one can do with plants.  I’ve been working with a few of these recently: namely chickweed, burdock, comfrey, dandelion, and nettles.  A few things that I’ve been doing with them, in addition to nibbling on chickweed, violets, and cleavers while on walks  . . . .

The dandy-lion leaves have been sauteed in oilve oil with garlic and a splash of balsamic.  I like it even more with burdock leaves mixed in, young smallish burdock  leaves.  The children eat these with mincing expressions and exclamations about how ‘sour’ it is . . . . interesting that they find it sour rather than bitter even without the balsamic.  I like the bitter and find the undertone sweetish myself.

I gathered some baskets together and returned with chickweed, coltsfoot leaves, nettle tops, garlic mustard, and violets.  Everything except the violets went into a pot with dried astragalus root slices, minced garlic, one chopped onion, and a few handsful of chopped lovage.  Filled the pot with water and cooked it into a wildweed soup, which was salted and had beaten eggs stirred into it.  With amino acids, it is extremely tasty and it’s yummy without any too.  We’re still eating this as I made quite a bit.

The violets, leaves and flowers, went into a small grinder with water to cover and a bit of lemon juice, then whizzaway until it became a paste.  I added honey to this and it is deliciously refreshing . . .  the raw flowers have a spicy bite to them that I always feel in my throat, a good kind of bite, and the purple flowers, while smaller, seem more potent to taste than the white; we all enjoy a teaspoon or two during the day.

Another thing I’ve been doing with the burdock leaves, chickweed, and dandelion flowers is wilting them overnight on a screen then putting them into their own jars.  Warm olive oil is poured over top, till just about to the rim, and they’re sleeping for six weeks in the dark, after which they’ll be strained, splashed with brandy, and stored to make into salves, balms, creams, etc.  Have done the same with comfrey leaves, and I may try it with the nettles too.  I particularly enjoy using dandelion oil on my aching hands after a day of weeding, digging, and planting.  Feels sooooo good!

Flower Essence (Bloodroot)

Bloodroot has been catching my eye this past week, quite persistently.  Little and low to the ground, there’s something very determined and cheerful about Bloodroot.  White petals and yolk yellow dotty middles, they open and close and open every day, the leaves curled up around the stems like a cape.

I thought I’d make a flower essence with a few of the flowers, so one morning, before the sun was hot and at its brightest, we all set out with a glass jar of spring water.  Bloodroot grows prolifically on a bank along the roadside and we picked seven flowers from where they grew in large numbers, being mindful not to let our shadows fall upon them.  We had poured a 1/4 cup of water from the jar into a shallow glass bowl, and we covered the water’s surface with the flowers.  These were brought home and put in a sunny spot for 5 hours, enough time for water and bloodroot to marry :0)

I picked out the petals and poured Bloodroot Mother Essence into a clean, used 1 oz. tincture bottle.  I then put 2 drops of this into another clean, used 1 oz. tincture bottle that was filled with brandy first.  Once capped, the bottle was shaken for a little bit.  This is the Stock Water.  I took 2 drops of this and put it in yet another clean, used 1 oz. tincture bottle, added 1 teaspoon of brandy, and then filled it with more spring water.  Capped, this too was shaken.  And this is Bloodroot Flower Essence that I partook of and will partake of until Bloodroot says , no more . . . . . this method can be used for making flower essences with different flowers.  I’m curious to see what calls to me this year and what they all have to say!

The Mother, Stock, and Flower Essences made this way keep for quite a long time, but it’s best to make a small amount at a time . . . .  I like this way as it means I’m using what I make and picking very little of what’s given.  Keep in mind that the 1/4 cup of water goes a long way at 2 drops at a time in making the final essence, I’ll probably start with 1/8 cup next time.  Also, always gather wildflowers from a spot that is ABUNDANT (as in at least 200 plants in an area, that way they have enough vitality to share a bit with you without endangering themselves) and pick flowers from more than one plant when possible.

Now, what flowers are calling you these days?  Even if you cannot make flower essence married with water and light, just meditating on or being in company with flowers provides an essential interlude to remember :0)

dandy lions and friends

ah dandelion.  sunshine flower, lion’s teeth.  how we’ve been enjoying you.  your green leaves chopped up in salads, with violets, cleavers, chickweed, bee balm, and chicory are tangy, and sauteed with garlic send a shiver deep down into the belly.  your flowers are steeping in oilve oil, to rub on aching muscles and hands after a good day of digging and planting the garden.  now you’re beginning to open up into seed sending globes, and we help you spread far and wide as we twirl and blow you hither and thither.  we thank you and your friends :0)  yummiest of all are your blossoms as a syrup.  the recipe:

2 quarts dandelion blossoms, 1 quart cold water,  1 quart sugar, 1 whole lemon sliced, 1 whole orange sliced

bring the blossoms and water to a boil, cover, turn off stove, and steep overnight.  strain, pour water over another quart blossoms, add a bit more water, boil.  turn off stove, cover, and steep till cool.  strain.  pour blossom water back into pot, add sugar and citrus slices, cook uncovered till thick like honey.  remove citrus and eat them up!  bottle syrup and enjoy on crepes, pancakes, or any number of other ways.  yummmmmeeee in the tummeee!

we’ve been busy with our green friends by the creek over the past two weeks.  we go to play by the waterfall on the driveway, basket in hand, and come back laden with nettles to cook and tincture, or horsetail to drink and tincture; never empty handed.  the bounty is full and tasty, leaving us satisfied and springy :0)  best of all: garlicky nettles and morels over crepes.  the lilacs are in bloom and so sweet smelling.  the butterflies cover the petals, along with bees, and we all gather under the bush to laze away in the shady fragrance.  we’re collecting petals every morning, to pack in a jar of vodka and see if we can capture the scent for later.  the liquid gets strained when the petals turn white, new petals are placed in the jar, and covered with the same liquid.  we’ll do this till the blossoms blow away and see what turns out :0)  ah it’s so dandy when our green friends are near at hand!

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skunk cabbage teachings

little man and i went for a walk alongside what later turns into the mint and milkweed patch.  behind this is the spring fed swamp and then the creek.  we noticed the skunk cabbage have begun popping up in the swamp.  this led to a talk about our friend, who wants some skunk cabbage for her wetwater garden, so little man tried digging one out with a stick.  he found it impossible.  he ran off and some minutes later returned with a pitchfork, declaring that this ought to get under its roots.  so he worked away at the same plant, which was growing on a wet, leafy embankment.  after he had pitchforked it from all four sides, wiggling it as he worked, he tried pulling it out.  the leaves came off, but no root.

now we thought we’d try up higher, on a dry sandy spot.  the pitchfork refused to penetrate the soil.  we looked at the cabbages growing right in the muck.  before we could talk about it, he  had tromped right in and was working a plant, vigorously, slushily.  after a while::::  come on mom, he called, you have to pull it out now!!  i had slippers on my feet, as when i stepped out of the house i had no intentions of doing anything other than walk.  i looked at the swamp and muck, then i looked at little man’s glowing face.  his mud covered clothes, his exuberance, and i thought what the heck!  so i’ll get muddy too.  woot woot.  in i went, squelch, mud seeped right over and around my feet.  i stuck my hands in, under the cabbage, and pulled, and pulled.  it wouldn’t budge.  but we both saw the roots, a tentacley looking mass that went down and around, joining up with roots from nearby plants.

we must have heard the same voice because moments later we were looking for small, baby plants growing away from other bigger ones, in the water.  little man found one and began working at loosening the roots from underneath, coming at it from all four sides.  he had some slicing technique he was using too.  it wasn’t long before i was in there, hands detangling the roots from below, and wallah!  it came out easy!!  we did this five times and were rewarded with five baby skunk cabbages, ready to move to our friend’s garden, where hopefully they will flourish with the abandon they do here.

on our way back up to the house and while we potted them, he was wondering if they’d make good medicine?  could we tincture the roots?  would they loosen things up in our bodies that are stuck fast? it’s eaten by bears during sparse winters, so is it bear medicine?  our lesson with skunk cabbage continued . . . . so mom, he asks as we track mud through the house, when can we dig up some roots to tincture??  we got around to it a week or so later.  we washed the roots in the creek, rubbing them on the rocks, before putting them up to dry. once they’re thoroughly dry, i’ll chop them and fill a jar with them, then completely cover with 100 proof vodka, and put away for six weeks . . . . . or longer . . . . like they said to do.

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