Join Know Your Roots at the 7th Annual Herbal Hoedown!

For the past six years, I have had the honor to help coordinate the Herbal Hoedown. It’s a wonderful herbal conference in the Finger Lakes, which brings together a whole spectrum of people, from herbalists to the phyto-curious ~ those who want to dip their toe into the world of our green allies. The day is filled with classes and walks; we even have classes for kids and an herbal market, where you can buy a whole range of products and plants. This allows everyone to fully immerse themselves and broaden their knowledge base. I am always impressed with the class proposals, as we always receive an excellent assortment of diverse topics for all levels.

Mike is even getting into the herbal swing and will be teaching at his second Herbal Hoedown. I guess the herb loving bug is catching on. He is approaching the topic from a cultivator’s point of view and will be teaching,  “Building Biodiversity Through Biodynamics,” where he’ll be discussing the use of the biodynamic principle that our land is a living organism and will look at practical ways to build a stronger, more resilient farm & orchard. For example how to invite greater insect and animal diversity at all trophic levels, which awakens the seen and unseen life forces all around us.

I’ll be teaching “Soothe Thy Skin,” since everyone’s skin needs attention. We’ll be discussing how to make herb infused oils and salves that can heal the roughest of skins. The class will focus on the magical healing properties of calendula, comfrey, and plantain.

I hope you will be able to join us for the 7th Annual Herbal Hoedown on June 3, 2017 at the beautiful Six Circles Farm on the shores of Seneca Lake in Lodi, NY. Space is limited so you better pre-register today.

Bring the whole family, I am! Mathew will be selling Know Your Roots products throughout the day.

 

 

The second year is much harder

After my brother died of cancer, a close friend who had suddenly lost his mother told me that the first year was going to difficult, but it was nothing like the second year. I thought I understood but I really didn’t get it until I entered the second year. The second year after the loss of my brother I experienced the heart wrenching pain of permanence. Sure, in the first year, there’s pain but you are preoccupied with settling and taking care of business for at least six months or even a year. So, the emotions jump around between loss, pain, anger and the empty void that the person used to fill in your life. But you are still super busy trying to figure things out and managing everything. There are so many firsts too. The first birthday you don’t hear their voice wishing you a happy birthday, the first holiday, the first time you did something new and couldn’t share….yes, there are tons of firsts.

Then, you experience the anniversary of their passing and that is when it gets real. They are gone and those moments you shared are done, cemented in the past. I had one of those heartbreaking moments when I recently arrived in Florida to visit my Mom. I’ve been traveling to Florida at least once a year since I was six months old, so for over 50 years ~ that’s a lot of arriving. When I was little, I visited my Grandparents yearly. Then I lived there from the age of 15 until I left for college in New York at 18 years old. And I continued traveling there at least once a year to visit my folks. Until about five years ago, my Dad & Mom would pick me up at the airport, greeting me with hugs and smiles. Before 9/11 they would be waiting at the gate as I got off the plane, afterwards at security, and then in the baggage area. After a long trip, it was always a warm and welcoming sight to see my Dad’s loving and relieved face that I made it there in one piece. Sure, my Mom was relieved and happy too, but there was something so deep and loving in my Dad’s eyes that I can see right them now as I am writing this. And even though he hasn’t been at the airport to pick me up in a while, this last trip just ripped my heart apart with the realization that I will NEVER see his warm, relieved smile again. And it was more than I could bear. This year I arrived 22 days after the anniversary of his death; April 2, 2016, the day he took his last breath. That day, I arrived and hour and half after he passed. I missed that one last smile then and forever.

Yes indeed, the second year is definitely harder than the first.

 

It’s my birthday and I can hike if I want to

For over thirty years, my favorite thing to do on my birthday has been to go on a hike in the woods with loved ones. I started this ritual years ago to get family who didn’t seem share my intense enthusiasm for the great outdoors. Hey, it’s my birthday and no one could refuse my simple request. Quite frankly, I have been blessed with a fabulous day to be born ~ May 4th. There is nothing better than having a birthday in May, when everything is breaking out of its winter slumber and painting the woods with a rainbow of colors. Years ago, I commented how lovely the day was and a friend said, “It’s always beautiful on your birthday.” And folks, 95% of the time it really is; ever so often there are more clouds than sunshine, but I really cannot remember it ever raining.

This year, we visited one of my favorite trails, Upper Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca, NY. Although, a few of flowers had already bloomed, we caught just about all my favorites.

Check out all the lovelies along the trail.

Wild Geranium

Bloodroot sans flowers

Dutchman’s-Breeches

Forget-me-not

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

Jack-in-the-pulpit

Trillium

Wild Ginger with flower

Bird’s eye view of Wild Ginger

Large-flowered Bellwort

What do you like to do on your birthday?

It is too early to start mowing

As I was sitting outside soaking in the magical spring weather, I heard the sound of a lawnmower. The first thing came to my mind was, “Shit, not already!” I surveyed our lawn, already a beautiful lush green, and decided that it wasn’t that high yet. What is wrong with these people! It is the end of April and still cool in the evening. It can wait.

A week later, I heard the lawnmower again. The sound makes me very anxious, because once I start mowing; my life is committed to mowing 3 hours a week, every week until the fall (we have a rather large lawn, unfortunately). That’s a lot of time and fossil fuels (we have too much lawn for a push-reel mower) committed to keeping the lawn shorter than 4 inches tall. So of course, I start thinking of reasons why I should and can put mowing off. The first reason that came to mind seemed very reasonable. Mike did not check out the mower to make sure it is in good working condition. Therefore, it really didn’t make sense for me to start it up, because I couldn’t fix it, if it needed fixing. Heaven forbid if it broke while I was mowing.

A couple of days later, I heard the same lawnmower again. This time I noticed the beautiful buds on the Redbud tree, they were starting to open up. Then I surveyed the lawn for violet ~ there were starting to emerge too. Well, that was a no brainer and my best excuse for not mowing. There is no reason to mow a lawn until after the violets have been harvested from the lawn for at least five or more salads. Sure, I can go into the woods to harvest them, but nothing is better than harvesting flowers and herbs from your lawn. And you cannot harvest flowers and herbs after you have mowed over them, yuck! So folks, I have the best reason (besides using fossil fuels) for not mowing our lawn for a little while longer. I need to harvest my “lawn” first. It’s good to be a forager!

A salad made last spring ~ now that's the perfect reason to not mow the lawn.

My first spring salad of the year ~ now that’s the perfect reason to not mow the lawn.

The songs of the wind

wind chimesI have a very deep respect and passion for wind and its power. Wind is amazing. It is a powerful invisible force that provides relief on a hot summer’s day, or can simply rip a house to pieces.  The dichotomy of wind is very profound. I can list numerous positive attributes along with its destructive powers. However, today, I am going to focus on it musical qualities.

When I was child, we lived in house surrounded by a forest and babbling brook. There were huge boulders scattered throughout the land. I spent my time lying on the boulders, looking up, watching the trees sway and clouds move, while listening to the wind flow through the leaves and pine trees. The wind created music in the forest. It was so exciting and awesome.

Over time, my fascination with wind has continued. I started buying instruments for this invisible force to play. I am excited by how diverse and beautiful my wind chimes collection has grown over the years. I have scattered wind chimes throughout our land so they serenade us daily. I love the music the wind makes.

I have been fortunate in the past to live near the Woodstock Chimes Warehouse, which has warehouse sales every spring and fall. This has allowed me to indulge in my passion at affordable prices. Woodstock Chimes make beautiful musically tune chimes, gongs, bell instruments. The next sale is May 18, 19, 20 & 21, 2017, 9am – 5pm each day.  If you are in the area, go early, as it can become a mad house.

Let’s see who’s there

If you have been reading my blog, I am sure you know by now that gardening and maintaining a garden is just not my thing. But when it comes to foraging, now that is more up my alley. Although, you can claim removing last year’s dead stems and leaves is actually “gardening,” I view it more like exploration. Because the very act of removing all last year’s detritus from my little medicinal garden is always thrilling. It reminds me of when I would take Mathew into the woods to see what critters were living under logs and rocks. We would very slowly and carefully pick the object up to see who was there. It was always very exciting.  That’s how I approach my little garden. Mind you, it is a very small garden perhaps only 10′ x 10′, but an enormous amount of love and intention goes into it.

waking up the gardenAs I started to remove last year’s detritus, the first plants to reveal themselves were Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris), Bee Balm (Monarda didyma), Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) and Catnip (Nepeta cataria). I think I could also see a very shy Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) peaking through. Since I removed everything that would impede their journey to the surface and as long as the weather continues to be “spring like,” I suspect now all the plants will have an easier time revealing themselves, and by the end of the week more will breaking through the earth.

Waking up Lady's Mantle

Waking up Lady’s Mantle

This will be the 6th year I will be nurturing the garden. Every year, I add one or two more herbs to get to know and learn. Some of them I had never worked with before, so it has been very interesting. Gratefully, most of the herbs love the garden, coming back and flourish year after year. Unfortunately, some have enjoyed the garden a little bit too much. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) and Catnip (Nepeta cataria) adore the garden but since they thrive all over our land, there is no reason for them to take up space here.  Other plants have found their way into my garden and are welcome, such as Red Clover (Trifolium pretense). Several years ago, I learned how tenacious Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) was, silly me, I planted it in the center of the garden, thinking it would look nice. It really did until it started to crowd all the other plants who were stifled by its beautiful large overbearing leaves and flower stalks.  The next fall, we tried our best to take it all out so the other plants could breathe again. We replanted the Comfrey between Mike’s baby apple trees, where is will help the trees thrive. Comfrey’s root system efficiently mines potassium, calcium along with other minerals enriching the soil around it. We did not do the best job eradicating it from the garden, as it keeps revealing itself, less each year but nevertheless she is always there. Truthfully, I am not too sure that it is possible to totally eradicate Comfrey, but I guess time will tell. It is a fabulous reminder that we really cannot manage nature. One of the very reasons I am more of a forager at heart than a gardener.

 

 

A Precious Human Life

I am at loss in regards to Syria.The civil war in Syria has gone on for more than six years and has claimed the lives of almost a half a million people. It’s hard to believe all the pain and suffering Syrians have been experiencing may have started with peaceful protests in regards to 15 schoolchildren who were arrested and reportedly tortured for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. The atrocities are countless and last week chemical weapons, possibly Sarin gas was used on civilians and then the 45th president of the United States ordered air strikes on Syria. Is bombing really a good way to help these people? Why hasn’t the 45th opened our borders to Syrian’s refugees looking to escape these horrors.

At these moments, I look for hope and reminders of the goodness in this beautiful world. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is really skillful at this and I thought I would share his reminder with you.

 

A Precious Human Life:
Every day, think as you wake up:

“Today I am fortunate to have woken up.
I am alive, I have a precious human life.
I am not going to waste it.

I am going to use
all my energies to develop myself,
to expand my heart out to others,
to achieve enlightenment for
the benefit of all beings.

I am going to have
kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to get angry,
or think badly about others.

I am going to benefit others
as much as I can.”

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama