Tag Archives: Garden

Sweet Fern

nypl.digitalcollections.510d47dc-4fae-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99.001.rThe fragrance of Sweet Fern after a summer rain is unmistakable. It’s as if somebody peppered the very air with an exotic spice. Fresh and refreshing are the words that spring to mind each time I breath in the aroma of this versatile plant.

Once you know that Sweet Fern (Compton Peragrina) is cousin to Bayberry (Myrica cerifera),  you begin to understand the lure of this lesser known member of the Myricaceae family.

Also known as Meadow Fern, and Spleenwort Bush, the plant is not a fern at all, but a deciduous shrub. It grows in rocky, sandy habitats, often on sunny hillsides along roadways. It reaches a height of two to three feet. Sweet Fern was a well used medicinal remedy among Native American tribes.

As a flower essence, Sweet Fern opens energy channels, making it an important component in my Energy Healer blend, along with Lilac to reconnect deep memories, and Lady’s Mantle to imbue Mother Earth’s nurturance.

The blossoms of the Sweet Fern are small. They can be easily missed when they present in late spring. There are male catkins and female, cone-like buds. Pollinated buds burst into a tiny fruit, or more correctly seed pod.Seed PodIt’s late in the season to be seeing the bright green seed satellites with their spiky hulls, especially this year, with the unusually high temperatures and drought like conditions we’ve been experiencing in the western Lake Superior basin, but I spied a few on my morning walk today.Brewing

Since I’m running low on last years stock of Sweet Fern essence, I decided to give it a go with the fruits of the plant. After all, the theory behind flower essence is that the plant’s vital energy is primarily in the blossom, and at it’s height in early morning. It seems to follow that the same would be true of the fruits and seeds—the progeny of the blossoms and method of procreating the plant. I’ll be sure to let you know how it works out.

Bottled Sweet Fern Stock Essence

Sweet Fern is a very versatile plant medicine. All parts of the plant can be utilized in many different forms. You’ll find loads of information and uses with a simple search.

Normally after I’ve bottled up my stock solution, I use the mother essence to water my houseplants. This time I’m saving it to add to a weak infusion of the leaves, which I’ll cut using sterile water. I want to try it as an astringent eyewash.

Finally, I’m going to harvest the leaves to dry in bundles along with my prairie sage to use as a smudge.


Have Garden Will Share

Bouquet - 1

Summer will reach its pinnacle shortly. In my perfect life, I would have this high summer weather every day—windows open, breeze blowing the curtains, occasional rainy days (or nights) to keep things green and growing.

But here it is, with summer near half gone, and I haven’t kept up the pace with all that needs doing. Until about five years ago, I had beautiful and meticulously tended gardens  of herbs, flowers, and vegetables happily commingling in my potager’s plot. Good medicine, from hands in the soil digging and planting, through tending the growth, to fragrant bouquets, healthy meals and medicinal tinctures and essences bottled and labeled. My gardens have been physical and spiritual sustenance.

Sadly, my gardens are now overgrown and choked with weeds. I feel more and more each day that I’m falling hopelessly behind. This year I’ve accepted, with much sorrow, that having offered me daily retreat for so long my once lovely gardens are now lost to me—I can’t keep up with the work of them.

I’m feeling my age.

Truth be told, many days I feel years beyond my age, mostly because of thyroid disease and chronic pain from spinal stenosis. I’m engaged in a daily struggle to keep these maladies from diminishing my life. This tale of infirmity isn’t my story, not the one I want to define me, at least.

Accepting the limitations that age or conditions put on living isn’t easy. Coming to terms with the fact that I will not be forever young and vital feels like defeat. Admitting that today is the best I will ever be and each tomorrow is a diminishing progression, even though in unnoticeable increments, is not an easy surrender.

Gone are the days when I could clean my house from top to bottom before noon, then run errands and still have the energy for dinner with friends or to attend an event. Now I’m lucky to clean two rooms at a time. When I’ve cycled through all of them by week’s end, it’s time to start at the beginning again.

The little acre yard carved out of the northern forest that I share with my better half and Gypsy Cat is getting harder to keep mowed and manicured. Shrubs are overgrown, dead tree limbs threaten to come crashing down, and the only grass we have is the crabby kind (a lot like me these days). Summer now stretches out as days stacked upon days of trying to make it all look good again (also a lot like me).

The garage, potting shed, and equipment barn have become our proverbial closets of shame, stuffed with our stuff—from things that would be useful to somebody but just not us, like bicycles and sports equipment, to life’s accumulation of cast offs that need to be sorted, donated or trashed.

When finally having all the things you worked so hard for becomes too much work, could owning less be the way to experience more? And is age really just a number only if you can pull off being younger than your years? Why does it feel so shameful to feel older than my number?

More importantly, would off-loading the unnecessary ballast accumulated over years of building a material life, add up to more years of living in the end?

Unless somebody willing to exchange work for a garden share comes knocking on my door, I’m about to find out.


The Light That Shines Within You

I’m always a little sad when summer draws to a close. I’m just not that much into winter. It’s cold, the roads are often treacherous, it’s dark more hours than light, (light being a relative term when gray days are the best I get). Mostly, it’s cold—bone chilling, mind numbing, freezes the breath in your lungs cold.

Do you know what passes for fun around here in the winter? Waiting for the exact right temperature below zero to blow soap bubbles and watch them freeze. If it’s not cold enough they just do their normal thing. If it’s too cold, they freeze and shatter almost instantaneously. It’s sort of like trying to stand an egg on end at the exact moment of the spring equinox. Good luck achieving either.

Don’t bother to tell me about wonderfully invigorating activities like skiing, snowshoeing, mushing, snowmobiling, ice fishing . . . it’s still cold. Doing those things in the cold is not fun. Anybody who tells you it’s fun is evil and lying, because you know misery loves company.

I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I don’t think there has ever been a more apt acronym. SAD is what I have and sad is what I am for the duration of Wisconsin winter. Vitamin D and full spectrum light exposure helps, a little. I’m still sad in winter.

My toes are sad they cannot expose their perfect pedicure in a rocking pair of sandals, or even peek out of a pair of peek-toe pumps.

My skin crawls at the feel of fabric covering every inch again. I spend weeks of transition pulling on jeans only to peel them off again. Perplexed and perturbed, I stand there in my grannie panties (who needs a thong up your ass when your skimpy wardrobe is relegated to storage) seriously debating the reality of living in my jammies for the next six months—or eight.

My ears are sad that they will not hear the lovely songbirds, the whisper-shimmy of leaves, the rumble of a thunderstorm and the pattering rain it brings, the hum of tires on bare pavement and the chorus of tree toads serenading the night outside my open window.

My nose is sad, missing the smell of cut grass, grill fires, and the scent of flowers and herbs growing in my gardens.

My tastebuds are sad, longing for a reunion with the flavor of fresh picked berries, corn on the cob, vine ripened tomatoes, peas and beans, or basil, thyme, sage and chives snipped from the herb bed just outside my door. Any of these shipped to the supermarket, out of season and from places afar taste like a big mouthful of nothing. Seriously, even cardboard has more flavor.

Don’t judge. You all know you’ve had a paper based product in your mouth at least once in your life, whether you ate a note you didn’t want to get caught passing or had the munchies so bad you neglected to peel all the cardboard away from the Twinkie before shoving it whole into your mouth. Whatever, I’m just telling you that even that pulp has more flavor than the winter produce we get in Wisconsin.

Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to escape to a warmer place for a few months, but I am not yet a full fledged snowbird.

I put this little visual together a few years ago. I watch it on the gray days. It helps me feel less sad—and less SAD, if you know what I mean.

I hope it lifts you into the light that shines within you.

Music Credit: Longtime Sun—Amrit Kirtan
Available on Sacred Circle from Spirit Voyage Record

 

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I’m blogging along with Effy Wild and her tribe for the whole month of September. Find out more here. This post is in response to a prompt for a give-away. I’m a writer—I give words. Here are some more of them, a different perspective of counting my blessing in the face of my SAD winters.
Making Peace With the Harbinger of Winter

 


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