Hidden away in a little nook of forest, distant of any city, beyond the quaint little towns, past the dairy farms and windmills, onto roads not-so-well paved… lives one of the coolest chicks I know…my dear friend, Brianne. I have known her most of my life, as we grew up in the same small town (the quaint little town not too far away)… and every summer, when she and her son Isaac come back to town for just a few short months each year- I try to make it over to her secret little home in the woods for at least one afternoon visit.
This year, we planned an early fall afternoon of garden harvest and tincture making. Brianne is an herbalist and knows more about plants and things that are earthly bound more so than most anyone I know. I had been looking forward to our visit for weeks and what knowledge I could take away from our day together in the woods.
Driving up in the morning, the sun and the fluffy white clouds, the green horse pastures and those giant architectural marvels, the windmills…
giant beauties, propelled by the wind
they forced me to pull over and take a few pictures. It’s funny, I grew up not so far from here but I don’t remember it ever being as beautiful as it was this morning. Either I just never noticed, or it takes age to birth a new sense of appreciation for such beauty.
The windmills…they look alien to the landscape, but somehow fit perfectly. Majestic, graceful giants that harness energy in a way that doesn’t threaten or destroy the earth, imagine that… They are wise, simple things.
Isaac greeted me at the top of the drive and walked with me down the path to a humble little clearing amongst the trees that they call home. A simple little yurt, an outdoor kitchen, fire pits, paths that lead into the woods, to fields filled with apple trees and hemlocks…and a giant garden filled with food, including 7 lovely ducks, silly, fearful ducks that squak and scramble every time you dare approach.
a lovely little Yurt- click on me to learn about Yurts!
We spent the morning walking to and from the garden, collecting various herbs and flowers to make medicinal tinctures. Borage, Calendula, and comfrey…. each with their own special qualities.
Borage, a prickly little blue flowering plant, smells just like cucumbers when it is cut.
Calendula sprouts the prettiest little orange and yellow flowers, and comfrey spills out from the earth into giant, deeply green droopy leaves with a slimy root. In Greek, Comfrey means “to repair, to bring together.” It was used long ago to mend broken bones and heal wounds.
A tincture is quite easy to make. All you need is some high proof alcohol, a willingness to get dirty, to be patient as it sits there on a shelf for weeks, and a strong appreciation for the plant itself. If you have all of that, you will be healed, in more ways than one.
Next, we ventured out into the woods to search for the Bloodroot…. As Brianne explained, this is a rare plant with unique properties. It grows in the shade of the trees, on the forest floor. Brianne had rescued some of these plants some time ago- uprooted and transplanted them from a field about to be bulldozed and paved for urban development….she brought them to their new home in the forest near her land and today we would honor them for their purpose.
What a special plant Bloodroot is, when it is cut, it bleeds bright red. It even coagulates just like blood. All three of us, crouched there in the woods, huddled around watching this living creature.. bleed. It made us feel a sense of deep sadness.
I have never watched a plant bleed red, and this experience will surely stay with me. Isaac laid a big green forest leaf on the grave of the bloodroot and we headed back to the kitchen…
The Doctrine of Signatures: is a philosophy shared by herbalists, a belief that if an herb or plant resembles various parts of the body, it can be used to heal that part of the body. Makes sense right? Oh nature, and all of her wisdoms…..
As we cleaned the dirt from the Bloodroot, it turned into this fleshy looking organ, with ventricles, arteries and veins. It no longer felt like a plant, it felt like something human, something that breaths, so precious, and so valuable. How did we become so removed from this doctrine?
After a busy morning, we stopped for lunch. Brianne gathered some fresh ingredients from the garden as Isaac and I went for a short walk in the woods. When we came back, She had sautéed some tomatoes, basil, onion and garlic which made a fresh choppy sauce that we ate with bread. Eating things that came from the ground just moments before is the way to do it!
We sat for a bit, chatting about life and things, catching up on the events each of us had in our lives last year… They go west each winter to spend the season working in a warmer environment, returning in the spring to pick back up and build onto the land they left to hibernate for the winter.
We finished the day with a few games of charades and another walk to the garden where Brianne filled up a couple bags with garden goodies for me to take home. I am so thankful for my friend Brianne, she is and always has been an inspiration for me to live my own life a little closer to nature. She reminds me that things don’t need to be so constructed, so societally “normal” to live a life of quality, appreciation, and humble modesty.
Yes, it is hard work to live this way, with no electricity, no running water, constantly working, learning and teaching to provide herself and her son with the comforts that most of us take for granted. But the life they have is a beautiful life surrounded by all of the things that we need most to survive, void of the things that dull us, and distract us from our purpose of being unique humans that heal each other and teach each other.
Below is a gallery of photos from the days beginning to its end~
What Brianne sent me home with!
hemlock fields beyond the woods
Hula hoop master
a crystal mounted in the woods
a lovely little yurt
St johns wart wine
“touch me nots” the seeds tastes like walnuts!
scared, silly ducks