If I Could Put it in a Pill

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I am re-posting this just because I enjoyed writing it. Maybe you have read it before but this time you will read it with different eyes.

 

I admire my mom so much! She has bathed her kids and grandkids in a gentle shower of wisdom from the moment we were born. When I made a goal in my late 20’s to learn all the skills that my grandmother and great-grandmother had for health care, homemaking and survival, I didn’t quite realize how much of it my mother had already inserted into my heart and mind. You see, my mom is the world’s best teacher.

Moment by moment she taught me. How many times did she unwrap a bar of soap, bring to my attention the pleasant scent and then proceed to take my hand and walk down the lush paths of her memory? Perhaps she would share about my brother who was allergic to Ivory Soap, and then turn down the lane of soap making, including how to leach a passable lye from wood ashes and even how to prepare a stump or a chunk of wood to drip the lye water out. Here, memories were not just how-to facts, they were unhurried visits with the people who had gone on before us. I could see the crepe-like and calloused hands of my great grandmother scooping the soft gel soap from the gourd soap holder into the tub of hot water. I could see her swishing it counter clockwise to make suds and adding in the dishes, glasses first then the dirtier dishes after to be followed later by the cooking vessels. Did she shift about on arthritic legs? Was she gray already? Who were the children at this time? I could see those hands, smell the hot soapy water and hear the sound of a few fingers full of salt being scrubbed around in the cast iron skillet. This would remove anything stuck on before the skillet was rinsed and dried on the back of the wood fired cook stove. After it was thoroughly dry, a bit of lard would be whisked around with those same gnarled fingers. Perhaps a pot of chicory and coffee mixed would be set to cook on the last heat of the cook stove or a pan of water for washing hands and feet before bed. Then on the vine-sheltered porch of my mother’s memory I would settle into an imaginary straight chair leaned against the wall and listen to the after supper “visiting” until the house cooled enough for sleeping. All of this is tied to the scent of soap.

If only my mom could put it all in a pill! I would buy those pills if it took everything I own and I would give one to everyone I love as well as to every kindly stranger I met. I would give one to all the teachers in the schools and pastors behind the pulpits. I would offer this pill to the politicians and pray they would be wise enough to take one. There might

also be the occasional fool-with-potential whose coffee would get spiked unbeknownst to him.

The reality is that the pill doesn’t exist. All I can do is try to follow those old paths that my family has walked and try to connect them to the world that my children and grandchildren live in. Even when they seem too busy, too sophisticated, too prosperous or prideful, who knows what they will remember when they unwrap a bar of soap?

A Curse With a Silver Lining

Muscadine Alabama as it looks today.
Muscadine Alabama as it looks today.

My God is so good! I have been counting my blessings or actually pondering them by category as they are too numerous to count! I have been thinking about herbs and natural remedies. I am what some would call a grannie herbalist. I received some of my herbal knowledge by oral tradition, mostly by listening when the women of my mother’s generation talked about how their grandmothers (women born in the 1860s and 70s) handled herbs and healing. My mother grew up in the mountains of Northeast Alabama in a community called Muscadine. When I was a preteen and at the age where I was (thankfully) required to help with pea shelling, cutting corn off the ear and other minor chores done by my mom and a neighbor or two, I did a lot of listening. In the process I got quite the education about many things. This is when my love for old ways began and when my herbal education started.

As I grew up, married and had a family, my need and desire for herbal remedies grew. I was blessed to have access to books about herbs and later, information and herbal classes on the internet. I wildcrafted and used the herbs that grew near me as we moved around from the South, to Alaska and later to Montana. Over the years the Lord used many people to teach me how to use herbs for medicine, for nutrition and to make herbal salves and other topicals. Wildcrafting herbs and gathering wild foods has been a big part of my life for decades.

As I pondered these things, I was reminded that most of the herbs I use on a daily basis are considered weeds. I have always been more of a forager than a gardener, considering flowering weeds to be “free flowers” I even let weeds like purselane grow in my gardens if they can be added to the salad or the stir fry. Many of the most beneficial herbs are found in waste places, urban interfaces and wilderness. Many are transplants from other continents and may be considered invasive or noxious by other people. To me, they are free medicine, free supplements and fascinating fodder for my mad scientist mind. All this from weeds.

I don’t know if there were weeds in the garden of Eden but part of the consequence to Adam for his sin, was the cursing of the ground. Thorns and thistles were mentioned specifically as part of this curse. I think it is safe to guess that other weeds and opportunistic plants might also be part of that curse. I think it is possible that many of the plants I use are associated with the curse. Even if we only speculated on thorns and thistles, most of them have medicinal value. It is amazing to me that the very plants that God cursed mankind with have a silver lining! Our God is so merciful that even this curse came with hidden blessing.

God bless you!

 

If I Could Put it in a Pill

scan0001

I am re-posting this just because I enjoyed writing it. Maybe you have read it before but this time you will read it with different eyes.

 

I admire my mom so much! She has bathed her kids and grandkids in a gentle shower of wisdom from the moment we were born. When I made a goal in my late 20’s to learn all the skills that my grandmother and great-grandmother had for health care, homemaking and survival, I didn’t quite realize how much of it my mother had already inserted into my heart and mind. You see, my mom is the world’s best teacher.

Moment by moment she taught me. How many times did she unwrap a bar of soap, bring to my attention the pleasant scent and then proceed to take my hand and walk down the lush paths of her memory? Perhaps she would share about my brother who was allergic to Ivory Soap, and then turn down the lane of soap making, including how to leach a passable lye from wood ashes and even how to prepare a stump or a chunk of wood to drip the lye water out. Here, memories were not just how-to facts, they were unhurried visits with the people who had gone on before us. I could see the crepe-like and calloused hands of my great grandmother scooping the soft gel soap from the gourd soap holder into the tub of hot water. I could see her swishing it counter clockwise to make suds and adding in the dishes, glasses first then the dirtier dishes after to be followed later by the cooking vessels. Did she shift about on arthritic legs? Was she gray already? Who were the children at this time? I could see those hands, smell the hot soapy water and hear the sound of a few fingers full of salt being scrubbed around in the cast iron skillet. This would remove anything stuck on before the skillet was rinsed and dried on the back of the wood fired cook stove. After it was thoroughly dry, a bit of lard would be whisked around with those same gnarled fingers. Perhaps a pot of chicory and coffee mixed would be set to cook on the last heat of the cook stove or a pan of water for washing hands and feet before bed. Then on the vine-sheltered porch of my mother’s memory I would settle into an imaginary straight chair leaned against the wall and listen to the after supper “visiting” until the house cooled enough for sleeping. All of this is tied to the scent of soap.

If only my mom could put it all in a pill! I would buy those pills if it took everything I own and I would give one to everyone I love as well as to every kindly stranger I met. I would give one to all the teachers in the schools and pastors behind the pulpits. I would offer this pill to the politicians and pray they would be wise enough to take one. There might
also be the occasional fool-with-potential whose coffee would get spiked unbeknownst to him.

The reality is that the pill doesn’t exist. All I can do is try to follow those old paths that my family has walked and try to connect them to the world that my children and grandchildren live in. Even when they seem too busy, too sophisticated, too prosperous or prideful, who knows what they will remember when they unwrap a bar of soap?