Deep rootedness, part one…

November 17, 2011

Lately I’ve been thinking a ton about being deeply rooted..being planted, really.

Secret:  there are days when I long to actually be a plant.  It seems to be a more peaceful, predictable experience.  But when sense starts talking again, I realize I am personifying the phyto-experience, and that is the wrong thing to do.  Both humans, plants, and all species are in the same boat when it comes to control.  That is, we have very little.  We respond to our environment, and respond again.   Leaves move to greet the sun and are literally shaped by lack of water or other extreme conditions.  Roots grow directly into sewer pipes when necessary.

While I am a bit fragile in extreme conditions, I can at least water myself.  I won’t forget and die of thirst, thank goodness.

This fall has been full of lots of harvesting and chopping…Yellow Dock, Skullcap, Blue Vervain, just to name a few.  I am learning how to be an herbalist, and  to remember the deeper cycles of things.

For instance:  Guess what?  You have to harvest when the harvest is ready.  You can’t just put it on your to do list and get back to it.  I am reminded of my mom putting up food (tomatoes, green beans, peaches) until the wee hours of the night.  As a child, I was always so amazed at how late she would stay up to get the job done.   Close enough to being a farm girl, she would fret about picking the peas and what to do with all that zucchini.  Poor dear.  I get it now.  Even though I am tired, getting the herbs chopped up and soaking in the alcohol (to make the medicine) is very important to me.  They receive a lot of star energy as I work late at night after my family has gone to bed.

So as I am dwelling on rootedness, and how I am not so good at it, I am cooking up roots.  Pots of them.  Because I’ve had a bad cold, and now I must make medicine for me.  (Roots for rooting.)  I like this…

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Words can be fertile ground…(a garden fairy tale come true.)

Some of you will remember a post about my friend Marion.   Marion and I were planting a medicinal herb garden at her home in Piedmont, CA this spring when she passed away suddenly.  This was a very sad happening, and her family wondered what to do with the herbs that she had planted.  There was much consternation, and then her husband Zafiris said the magical words “Take them away.  I don’t know what to do with such things.”  Really?!?  (Tears watered the soil beneath Marion’s oak tree.)

And so I bravely dug those happy plants out of their home dirt, and ferried them across the Bay Bridge to land in their new location–an under-utilized garden in the Inner Richmond.   A vast landscape of quick-draining soil, amended with homemade compost.   Hip hop music blasting in the background.  Old relics of the past garden lying around.  Woodchips from the trees that used to stand on site.  In other words, a blank canvas, a new beginning.

Forgive for a moment a narrator’s interruption:  I want to be clear.  I’m not the hero of this story.  I’m just the dopey sidekick.  The plants are the brains.  And despite all the unpredictable variables of their new destiny, and in spite of the gardener within that keeps saying “we’ll see…” they are looking really good!  Like sticks of a plant, with brand new basal growth where dirt meets aerial parts!  New growth!

And this gardener is so happy I could spit.  Honestly.  I’ve been waiting for this moment for such a long time:  sunny San Francisco location meets herbal medicinals.  An herb garden of my own!  To share with others, eventually.  First we’ve got some growing to do.

Sticks and stones get moved around to host Solidago, and Chamomile, Blue Vervain, and a ton of Grindelia…

Take a peek.  It may not look like much, but come next Spring and Summer, these baby plants will be usefully engaged in soothing your sore throats, calming your fried nerves, and pepping up your tired bones.

For now they look like sticks among the stones.  We are moving toward the winter solstice.  It’s cold and dark, it’s raining.  But eventually the rains will stop.  And then the plants will be lush.  And I’ll pick some of their leaves, and make you a tea.   See?

A deep thank you to Mary and Ted