Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.

Conjuring Herbal Memories

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Today, I spent some time in our herb room formulating, sifting, mixing, pouring, tasting and realized that for the majority of our inventory, I can easily conjure up a sense of place and time connected to each plant species used in our herbals.

While fingering the wild carrot tops for tea or the nettle seeds for tincture, I can see, sense and feel the wild salmon migrating up the river just a yards feet away from where I am harvesting or hear the eagles and ravens defending territory in the cottonwood trees above my head. The taste of the wild rose petals infused with honey takes me back to this summer and a hedgerow alive with bees busily pollinating rose blossoms. The hawthorn berry elixer reminds me of the rows upon rows of purple berries adorning the hawthorn shrubs along the banks of a northern Idaho lake where the loon spills its song and deer come to browse in the late afternoon.

The Lomatium dissectum oil smells of the yellow pine forests on the hillside above the lake where the the resinous herb sends its roots deep into the rocky soil requiring hammer claws and digging bars to free it from its anchor hold.  The arnica oil reminds me of our old pickup grinding up a steep mountain road looking for that damp spot festooned with arnica flowers in the bright morning sun and being on the lookout for black bear.

The jars of bitter silk tassel leaves and sticky Larrea tridenta take me back into that cavernous, aromatic herb shop in Silver City, NM, where I apprenticed so many years ago. And while fingering the now-empty, grain alcohol bottle, she tells me her secret of being smuggled across the Mexican border disguised as a water bottle!

So for me it’s not zipping open a baggie of herbs from a bulk supplier, it’s my senses opening to a world of memories all mixed, blended and added to my brew.

Michael digging up Lomatium dissectum roots above Lake Pend d’ Oreille, N Idaho.

Patricia apprenticing in Desert Blooms Herbs, Silver City, NM. 1997


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