Generations ago, my ancestors experienced a very different world than the one I currently live in. One of my ancestors, John Wilson, was among one of the first settlers in this area. When he first came here, it was a wild, untamed place, full of strange plants and strange animals. He was famous for befriending the Native Americans who inhabited this beautiful land and his bond with them resulted in a friendship that grew into a kind of legend. They would bring him maize, pumpkins, beans, and apples to help his family survive. It is also said that they caught wild pigs for him. Needless to say, if it wasn’t for the help of these wise and wonderful natives, I might not be here. Having countless generations of knowledge of the land and the abundant medicines and food that grew wild within it, the Native Americans had to have showed my great, great, great, great grandfather so much.
I can’t help but wonder what was lost though.
Through the generations, things were passed down. Intimate knowledge of the land, the plants, the animals…I faintly recall being told of my great grandfather Claude Wilson’s love of herbs and plant medicine. Doubtless his store of information was passed down from John Wilson, being only a few generations apart. And then there is my grandma Doris (Wilson) Cross. She has always used holistic remedies. I’m pretty sure she has a goldenseal root in her medicine cabinet right now. : )
Then there’s me. My generation. Born in 1984, I am considered a “millennial.” I was born during a technology revolution. So much has changed, even since I was in high school. At some point, I went from not owning a cell phone in 2001, to being glued to a smartphone. It’s funny though, as we get older and hopefully wiser, we sometimes begin to muse and dwell on what came before us. At least for me, that was the case. I became interested in where I came from – my past. My heritage.
Maybe it was because a few years ago, we had the opportunity to buy the farm my grandfather owned. It was a small farm house on around 80 acres. I grew up right down the road from it, so I had an emotional connection to it and wanted to live there. As luck would have it, everything worked out and we have been living here for going on four years. During this four year span, I have had the opportunity to get to know the land I live on in a more intimate way. I had always been interested in holistic medicine, especially essential oils and herbs. I would walk around the property and find a plant and figure out what it was. The more I found, the more I learned that Missouri has an abundance of native medicinal plants!
And so my obsession grew. That generational instinct deep within me had not died…and when it was fully awakened, I was able to find my life’s passion. Those essential oils I had so loved (and I still think they are great), didn’t seem as neat to me as the fact that I can walk out my front door and find just as effective medicine. Be self-sufficient in a way. Take care of my family just by foraging and responsibly wildcrafting on my own property. This is a feeling that brings deep, instinctual satisfaction and contentment.
I was lucky enough to get back what had been lost through the generations in my own family. I took the time to look back through the ages and try to understand. I have taken the time to get back the intimate relationship with the land in which I live. I know which parts of my farm to go to find specific medicinal plants. I know that there’s a rocky ridge where I can find pennyroyal, there’s a hillside where I can find skullcap, a mossy ridge where lion’s mane mushrooms and ghost pipe grow, and there’s an awakened love of nature in my heart where I can find peace.
Get back what you lost…