Elder Wisdom

grandma hands

Above: My grandmother showing me one of her favorite greens.  She calls it “nardock.”

Although she is 81 years old, you are not likely to find my grandma Doris sitting around being idle.  If you drive by her humble home during the cooler months, you are more likely to see her bringing in firewood from her front porch.

Not too long ago, we came to visit and she was down in her spring (this is how she gets water to her house) with a hatchet trying to get brush and small trees out of the way so they will quit clogging her plumbing.  There isn’t much this amazing woman can’t do!

All my life, she has demonstrated an enthusiasm for foraging.  She loves to go outside on her beautiful property and find greens to make salad.  When she can’t find enough greens, she simply goes down to the spring to collect watercress.  There is always an abundance of watercress for her to enjoy!

She grew up in a large family, being one of nine children.  She didn’t learn to forage for fun – it was mainly for sustenance.  Hunger was no stranger to her growing up.  Her resilient spirit no doubt comes from her childhood experiences.

Last spring, I went on a walk with her around her property.  I feel like I have a decent amount of knowledge when it comes to wild edibles, but a few hours with her showed me that I still have a lot to learn.  Some of the plants she pointed out to me were familiar, but she called them by much different names.  I get the feeling that her names for these plants stem from some sort of Ozarkian slang.  I love it nonetheless.

It is always great to visit with my grandma because she has experienced a lot in her lifetime and has so much love and wisdom to impart.

She also has great stories to tell.  One gives me chills every time I hear it.  I decided that part of the reason I am writing this blog today is to get this down so it can live forever in a sense.  In 1949, when she was 12 years old, she was walking home from somewhere. They walked everywhere because they had no car.  Her older brother (age 16 at the time) was with her and so were both her parents.  They go to a certain spot near an old cemetery and immediately noticed something hovering above the trees not far away.  As she tells it, they all knew what it was.  It was an angel, glowing with a golden-like hue.  She finds it hard to describe with common words, but she says it had a glowing area of gold around the head too, like a halo.  Of course, she wasn’t the only witness, and her parents and brother all were in awe of this celestial visitor.

Upon seeing it, they all got the feeling that something unfortunate had happened. None of them could explain why they had this feeling, but they thought they need to go check on family members who were sick.  It wasn’t long after that one of the nine, her little brother Gerald Lee, passed away.  He was nine years old.  He ended up being buried in that cemetery.  Every time I drive past this place, I tell my sons about their experience and we look above the cedar trees, as if the angel may appear at any moment.

Another interesting fact about my grandma is that she is musically inclined.  She taught herself to play the piano and guitar and plays them quite well.  She bought her first guitar as a young girl by selling pincushions she made.  When I was in college, I would visit her and bring my guitar.  I had her show me some chords and teach me (someone who completely lacks rhythm of any kind) how to strum.  I can now play a mean “C,” “D,” and “G” chord.  Still haven’t figured out how to strum though.  🙂

Today, grandma is likely stoking her fire (her house is probably unbearably hot to most haha) and putting a puzzle together at her kitchen table.  When the weather begins to warm up, I am looking forward to going out with her again and learning more about the wild edibles she has eaten throughout her life.  If you are reading this and your grandparents are still around, consider this a loving nudge to go spend some time with them, let them tell you about their childhood, their life experiences, and all the wisdom that comes with age and experience.  You won’t regret it.


Three Things You Need To Know If You’re Considering Learning Essential Oil Distillation

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I’ve been distilling my own essential oils and hydrosols for years.  When I decided to start teaching this craft, I noticed that I was getting a lot of the same questions.  I thought I would dispel some misinformation, as well as provide some encouragement, for those considering learning how to use steam distillation to make their own essential oils and hydrosols.

Number One:

It does not take a ton of plant material to get a measurable amount of essential oil.  That’s the simple answer.  I should say right off the bat that yes, there are plants that have a much lower oil content and do require quite a bit more plant material to get oil, but in my experience, this process CAN be done using what is in a small raised garden bed.   In fact, between what I wildcraft and what I pluck from my raised bed, I have had more than enough to create amazing essential oils and hydrosols with.  I have never had to plant “fields” of crops for distillation purposes, nor order a ton of herbs.

Case and point: last summer I went to visit my mother and she asked me to get some oregano from her little raised bed.  I gathered a few robust handfuls and  took them home, curious how much oil I would actually get.  I was impressed with the yield!  I had a measurable amount of oil – close to 5 ml.  Considering that this oil is very strong and requires sufficient dilution to use, this was enough to last me quite a while!  Another great example is Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa).  Every summer, around mid to late June, it appears all over my farm.  I will collect a medium-sized basket-full of the flowers and take them back to the house to distill.  I get a lot of oil from these amazing flowers!  I can easily fill a 15 ml bottle after two distillations.  Research each plant you distill beforehand, and you will be better prepared for the outcome of the distillation process!  Some plants are just not as oily as others.   Please don’t beat yourself up if your oil yield is low.  I guarantee you were able to obtain hydrosol from the process, and that is just as useful as essential oil!

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Above: Wild Bergamot oil sitting on top of hydrosol.  This picture was taken only minutes into the distillation process, when hydrosol had just started dripping into the collection container.  Essential oil from this plant is abundant, powerful, and very useful!

Number Two:

You will always produce hydrosol during distillation.  Don’t underestimate the power of hydrosol.  I can’t stress this enough.  Hydrosol is a by-product of the distillation process.  The essential oils are usually floating on top of the hydrosol when the process is over.   The oils are then extracted and what you have left behind is quite a bit of hydrosol.  This is also referred to as “floral water” and has small amounts of the essential oils in it.  It has many of the same medicinal properties as the essential oils that came with it.  The great thing about it is that it is MUCH gentler than the essential oil, it is much more kid safe, it is much less likely to cause skin sensitization (always use caution and good judgement though), and it can be used in many of the ways you are using your essential oils!

I recently distilled yarrow essential oil and hydrosol.  The oil was so sticky and hard to separate from the hydrosol!  I ended up only getting maybe 1.5 ml of yarrow essential oil from that distillation, although I probably had around 3 ml total.  It all decided to stick to the sides of the beaker and be stubborn.  I wasn’t too bummed about it though, because I had around a quart of yarrow hydrosol…

This stuff is amazing.  It has proven to be useful for so many things around our household.  Having two little boys means someone is always getting cuts and scrapes.  I spray yarrow hydrosol on minor cuts and scrapes because it is a great disinfectant, and its astringent properties help clean the wound.  It has proven to be a great skin cleanser/toner as well.  I use it as part of my beauty routine.  It is especially helpful for those with acne-prone skin.  Another use we found for it is an after-sun spray.  I already put all my hydrosols into spray bottles, so it was ready to apply when we all came back from Florida with a little too much sun (and yes, we used sunscreen).  It immediately helped with pain and by the next day, our burns were nonexistent.  And finally, the most awesome thing about yarrow for us is that it has proven helpful as an insect repellent.  Bugs don’t seem to like it very much.  I have even experimented with spraying it on our bottle calf’s back where flies seem to bother him and they left him alone all day!  When we apply it before going outdoors, we do not get bothered by mosquitoes, ticks, or any other creepy crawlies.   And ALL hydrosols are this useful.  This is just one example of how awesome and important hydrosols are in our every day lives!

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Above: Yarrow hydrosol and essential oil after distillation. I took what oil I could by using a glass dropper to suck it up.  The essential oil is the blue stuff you see in the picture.  The hydrosol has proven to be just as useful as the essential oil.

Number Three:

You CAN do this.  It is not as hard as it looks, sounds, etc.  I know that when a person first sees a still all hooked up to pumps circulating water through the condenser, bubbling water in a beaker over a hot plate or propane burner, and all these things happening at once, it can look like some sore of crazy science lab.  This can be intimidating for those wanting to learn more about how to create their own essential oils.  I hear it all the time:  “I could never do this. It looks too complicated.”

It is not that complicated.  Steam distillation is simply the process of sending steam through the plant material and then letting it re-condense and turn back to liquid.  Circulating cool water around the condenser coil will help the hot steam re-condense, so this is why you see pumps hooked up to them sometimes.  When it re-condenses after passing through the plant material, it has taken constituents from the plants and is now a highly beneficial substance known as hydrosol and essential oil.  As I stated above, the essential oil is usually floating on top of the hydrosol after it comes out of the condenser and into the collection container.

Once you learn the terms and understand steam distillation a little better, it isn’t as intimidating as it once was.  There are several types of stills (I prefer copper, but I also have a glass still) and several types of distillation, but with slight variations.

Parts of a Still Labeled

Above:  I labeled the parts of my glass still.  As you can see, you heat water under the plant material, it turns to steam that rises up through the plant material, and then goes through what is called a “swan neck”to the condenser (where there is cool water circulating around it).  What comes out of the end of the condenser is hydrosol and essential oil!

I hope that this helps those that were wanting to learn more about the process, but were held back by worries and fears of “not having enough plants” or  the process looking “too hard.”  We all have to start somewhere, so my hope for readers is that you gain enough confidence to at least look further into the process and realize that you can do it!

I offer a course in essential oil distillation that breaks down the process, step-by-step, to make it even less intimidating.  I discuss types of stills, pros and cons with each, types of distillation, more terminology, other materials needed, native plants you can find to use, plants you can grow and use, and so much more.  In addition, I offer discounts on copper stills for students wanting to get a still.  You can check it out here:  https://thebitterherb.com/the-bitter-herb-school-of-aromatic-distillation/

Happy distilling!



The Goat Lady who Complained about my Feet


There they are in all their bareness…the horror!

As I wandered far into the thickets this morning looking for medicinal plants, fungi, and whatever else called out to me, I looked down for a second and noticed that I wore my “good” pair of flip flops into the woods again.  Oops.

I have never cared whether or not I had on the right foot gear. I go out into the woods many times a week and sometimes I have on mud boots..sometimes I have a cheap pair of flip flops that barely cover the soles of my feet as I trek through thorns, water, mud, and all kinds of wild obstacles.

I have even hiked to the top of a steep bluff while wearing flip flops.

There is something I hate about having my feet covered.  Socks and tennis shoes feel like they are suffocating the life out of my feet.  I do not own a pair of tennis shoes.  As soon as I get home, I take off my flip flops and walk barefoot everywhere.  My feet need to BREATHE!  I have always been this way.

So when I looked down at my flip flop-clad feet this morning in the middle of the forest I had a flashback:

I was 21 years old (I am 34 now, so this was quite a few years ago).  I was working as a journalist for a small newspaper and was close to obtaining my BS in Journalism.  I was asked to interview a lady for a special feature we were doing about the county fair.  She bred and judged goats at the fair.  I went to her place and talked to her a while about goats and other livestock she had.  I walked outside with her to her goat pen and took a few pictures of her goats playing.  Then, about an hour after leaving my desk, I was on my way back to the office with tons of notes and a few pictures on my camera.  I didn’t think much of that experience…until she called the office a few days later to complain about my feet.

She called my editor.    She told him that I was not dressed for a farm interview because I was wearing FLIP FLOPS while walking around her yard with her.  For shame.  I had no idea I was offending her so much as we were talking…here I thought I was a good at reading people (Oh how young and naive I was).

At the time I laughed about it and had completely forgotten the whole thing until this morning when I looked down at my dirty feet in the middle of a thicket and realized that some things never change!  I was basically born with an aversion to socks and shoes that cover most of my feet and that is okay.  I like to be barefoot and feel the earth under my feet…not sweaty socks trapped in the hot jail of tennis shoes or boots.  I look back at the goat lady who complained and laugh even harder because if she could see me now her head would likely explode.  BOOM.  Mind blown.

On a related subject, have you heard about grounding/earthing?  It is the practice of walking barefoot on the earth’s surface.  Reconnecting your feet to the surface of the earth and the many electrons that are present can actually have positive effects on your health!  Studies show improvement in sleep, stress levels, pain, and a reduction in the amount of electric fields induced on the body as a result of grounding.  Maybe I will head out into the thicket completely barefoot next time!

Today, I work for myself as an herbalist and herbal educator.  Like the goat lady, I too have a farm.  I feed the chickens, mow the lawn, and go wildcrafting and foraging in nearly bare feet and will likely continue to do this for the rest of my life.   I am my own boss.  If someone doesn’t like my exposed feet, that’s not my problem.  By all means, they can call and complain, but I cannot promise I will contain my laughter.

Oh, and I have never injured my feet as a result of not wearing the proper foot gear…(knocking on wood so hard right now).










The Big Plastic Bag of Herbs

Above: My sister and I in 1992 sitting in the window of an old smokehouse on our property.  Below that is a picture of my sons standing by the same house a few months ago.

I am the descendant of some of the first people to settle in the county in which I live.  I mentioned in my very first blog post that my great (x5) grandfather was a famous settler here and how he befriended the Osage Indians and how they learned so much from each other.  I am also the direct descendant of other great men and women who lived in this area.  They were farmers, fighters, and people who lived off this great land.  One woman was a Native American named Snowbird who lived here in the 1830s.  There are many colorful stories about how she met my great (x5) grandfather and about their pioneering adventures together.   I am fortunate enough to live on property that has been in my family for many years.  The other property down the road from where I live has been in my family even longer.  Sometimes when I am exploring it, I try to imagine my great grandfathers farming it.  (long story, but my paternal great grandfather sold it to my maternal great grandfather after WWII)  I imagine them using the nearby spring to get water, preserve food, etc.  I imagine them using a horse-drawn plow to plant.  I know that some of my ancestors used the plants growing on these properties to treat a variety of issues because my grandma has told me about it.

Herbalism is in my blood.  I am fortunate enough to be able to live on and nearby properties that my ancestors made their home so many years ago in a time before electricity, paved roads, and indoor plumbing.  I believe that it is my calling in life to learn their ways – to bring back some of their knowledge about this land and the plants within it.  Over the past decade I have made it my goal to learn all about the native medicinal and edible plants growing where I live.  I have learned so much more than I ever thought possible.


About that bag…

One of the unintended side effects of researching and using what I wildcraft on the 180 wild acres I have access to is that I find myself being put off by those big plastic bags of bulk herbs.  Nothing against the people who buy these; I understand that not everyone has access to property to wildcraft or grow their own plant medicine.  However, I feel no connection to this bag of herbs.  I feel nothing.  There is a powerful connection to the plants that one has when they find them in the wild or grow them.  It’s like you can hear them speak to you.  This may sound strange to some, but there have been times when I just got this feeling that I needed to explore a certain area of my farm, and when I do, I find the amazing medicinal plant that I had been looking for.  It is hard to explain, but I simply feel cheated when I look at the big plastic bag.  I feel like something has been lost.  I feel like I am looking at something alien and unfamiliar, though it may be a plant I have seen in the wild thousands of times.

I didn’t harvest the plants from the big plastic bag, someone else did.  I didn’t watch them growing with vivacity, bright and colorful in the morning sun.  I only see the faded remnants of the plants a stranger harvested.  They are from a reputable company, but strangely, this doesn’t console me.  I guess I have trust issues.  

There is no greater feeling for me than going out into the wild with my family and exploring together.  I want to pass on to my sons the ancestral knowledge I have attained -after all – it’s in their blood too.  I want them to have a connection with the land in which we live.  It will all be theirs someday.  I tell them stories of their ancestors and the things they did.  I show them old houses barely standing on our property.  I tell them about their grandfathers who farmed the land and drew water from the spring.  I tell them about how their ancestors made history by befriending the natives and showing them love and respect.  So many stories.  So much history.  It belongs to us and nothing can take that away…

Not even a big plastic bag.












What is Herbalism?

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To me, herbalism is a deep, spiritual connection between us and nature.  It is a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual connection between me and the plant I am using.  It is listening to the voice of the plants calling out to you.  It is being able to identify plants growing all around us and seeing them for more than meets the eye.  It is using these plants to make medicine that heals us in every aspect.  It is realizing that the world around us is full of love and gives us what we need to survive and thrive.

I can go out in the woods and look around me, my eyes being opened in a way that they were not before…they see things they once overlooked.   Suddenly, the world around me becomes a great, mysterious forest and the plants can speak.  They grab my attention somehow.   I take pictures; I identify and research each one that calls to me.  I find out new things about the plants growing all around me and how I can use them to help myself and those around me.  I take care to respect each plant. I harvest everything ethically.  After all, this is my family property. It has been in my family for generations.  I want my grandchildren to enjoy the bounty of this property someday.

To hear the voice of the plants, to identify and research them, to use them to make medicine, this is herbalism.  To understand that all plants are not always safe just because they are natural-to respect the power of each plant – is herbalism.  To help those in need with our gift is herbalism.  Herbalism is not just a hobby or a fun pastime; it is a way of life that encompasses every aspect of my being.  From my childhood and until this very day, even in my dreams, I am wandering on some green ethereal plane, finding things undiscovered and magical.

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Influenza: Tips and Common Mistakes when attempting to Avoid or Kick its Butt :)

Everyone is freaking out.  According to the media, the flu is rampant and the only option isinfluenza blog Tamiflu – and don’t forget to get your (pretty much ineffective) flu shot!

I sold out of my elderberry glycerite 24 hours after posting it for sale.  Here I was thinking I made so much and that I will have plenty left over…boy was I wrong.  However, I am glad that so many are aware that there are other options when dealing with viruses!

I follow a lot of herbal education pages and communities.  There are always people asking where they can get elderberry.  It is flying off the shelves.  It seems to be sold out on Amazon…that’s how you know that more people than ever are aware of the antiviral properties of elderberry!

With all that being said, any herbalist will tell you that elderberry is NOT the only science-backed antiviral herb.  There are other herbs, homeopathic remedies, and mushrooms that help boost the immune system and can be very beneficial during cold and flu season!

I put together a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to preventing and treating the flu with herbal and homeopathic remedies:

Prevention Do’s:

Daily prayer – I like Psalm 91 : )

Take a daily Vitamin C supplement from a reputable company if you choose.

If you start a Vitamin C regimen this winter, consider taking Vitamin D3 with it to help your body absorb it better.

Eat as healthy as possible.  Fresh greens, etc.

Exercise to keep your body healthy.

Stay hydrated.

Wash your hands with soap and teach your children to wash their hands and stop putting their hands in their mouth and nose (I am admittedly still working on this with my kids!)

Cayenne pepper is a good preventative because it acts as a stimulant that brings heat to the body, thus getting rid of coldness.  It can also be taken at the onset of flu symptoms to shorten a cold or the flu.

Prevention Don’ts:

Taking elderberry daily because you are scared to catch influenza is a bad idea.  Our bodies are cool in that they adjust to certain things and get used to them.  In the case of daily elderberry, you are risking making your body immune to its antiviral effects, thus rendering it INEFFECTIVE when you REALLY need it.  I also read a study about elderberry’s effect on cytokine activity and why it may not be a good idea to take it all the time because it may induce a cytokine storm.  (Take at onset of symptoms only!) The only other time I am halfway okay with taking elderberry when you are not sick is when you know for a fact that you have been exposed to someone when they had influenza.

I also advise against giving children Echinacea.  Echinacea is a great way to boost the immune system in adults, but many herbalists that err on the side of caution will tell you that it can trigger allergies in children under 12.  To each their own though!

Already have Influenza? Here are some homeopathic and herbal strategies to combat it:

Astragalus: this root is a well-documented immunostimulant.  I have noticed several companies that market this for kids and adults alike.

Oscillococcinum is a homeopathic remedy for the flu that is said to be safe for all ages. It works best when taken at the onset of symptoms.

Elderberry: I prefer a glycerite, tincture, or concentrate over syrup because they are a bit stronger.  My kids like the taste of a glycerite or syrup better, but to each their own.  Depending on what you are using, I recommend 5 ml for kids 2-3 times a day and 10-15 ml for adults at the onset of flu symptoms.

Echinacea: Great for immune boosting in adults.  I prefer to make my own extracts with what I grow.  Please be wary of brands if you go out and buy it.  There is a lot of adulteration in the herbal supplement business.

Elder Flower: Everybody is freaking out about elderberry, but did you know that elder flower has the same properties?  I recommend this in a tea with lemon and raw honey.  Delicious!

Garlic:  But be careful, this can cause stomach upset if you take too much!

Ginger: It is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Oh…and it’s anti-nausea effects make it even better for combating influenza!

Onion: This is great for treating a nasty cough.  Sage and Thyme are also good for this.

Raw honey: as beekeepers, we know that raw honey is much more than a tasty treat!  It is antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic!

Fire Cider: Want to mix many of the things listed above into a concoction that treats colds and influenza?  That is basically what fire cider is.  There are many variations, but I like to chop up turmeric, ginger, cayenne peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, onions, horseradish, sage, thyme, and rosemary and put them in a jar.  I squeeze the juice of one or two lemons, as well as some raw honey, in there too.  Then I pour in organic apple cider vinegar and let it sit (shake daily) for 4 weeks or so.  Strain and viola!  You have fire cider.  If you don’t have cayenne peppers, you can use cayenne powder. This stuff will be strong, so drink with caution.  I take a shot to open up my sinuses.  It helps a lot!

Essential Oils: My favorite is Wild Bergamot.  It is by far the strongest antiviral essential oil I have used.  It may be hard to find. I have to distill this myself.  Other essential oils that may help are frankincense, oregano (Not kid safe and please God don’t use this neat or ingest it!!!), eucalyptus (not kid safe), tea tree(not pet safe so if you have indoor pets, do not diffuse), lemon (photosensitive), peppermint (not kid safe), lavender, cinnamon leaf, clove bud, grapefruit (photosensitive), Sandalwood, Basil, Ginger, rosemary (not kid safe), and pine.  I recommend putting in a diffuser and enjoying the benefits.

*Please note that “oregano essential oil” and “oil of oregano” are not the same thing and the latter is much safer.

Mushrooms: Look for double extractions of Turkey Tail, Reishi, and Chaga.  These all have proven benefits!

I’m sure there are many other remedies, but these are what came to mind.  Be well!





















Introducing Our Children to Nature


I was doing laundry the other day and while I was taking clothes out of the dryer, I noticed that several white pieces of clothing were stained with reddish dots.  It didn’t take me long to discover that the stains were from rose hips.  Turns out, my youngest thought he would be a sweetheart and collect me some rose hips.  He put a nice handful in his pocket and then forgot about them.

I am still finding old rose hips in the dryer.  I just keep picking them out and putting them on top of the dryer in a big, growing pile.  When I look at that pile of freshly washed-and-dried rose hips, I can’t help but smile.  I can’t help but smile when I find a pile of violets or henbit on the living room rug after hearing the door slam 100 times and wondering what they are up to.  I can’t help but smile when I overhear my oldest refer to plants as “medicine.”   That’s all they know when it comes to medicine.  Sure, we have had to (rarely) take the odd antibiotic – it can’t always be avoided.  But when it comes to treating viruses and most issues, I usually try to treat them with what I have; I treat it with what nature gave us.

We just got back from a walk in our woods today.  It became a teaching experience.  We were looking for mushrooms and found some on a dead log.  I explained to them that a lot of mushrooms like dead trees and you can usually find a lot of neat mushrooms on them.  We found some puffballs and I had them squish them.  They observed the smoke-like substance coming out of them when pressure was applied.  I explained that like plants going to seed, mushrooms produce spores and that these mushrooms were releasing spores.  They thought that was pretty neat.

I always wanted my children to love and appreciate nature.  I thought maybe I could buy them books or find interesting shows about nature for them to watch to help kindle their curiosity.  While those things can help, they obviously weren’t the key. Of course, almost without realizing it, I was able to instill a love of nature in them by simply being their mom.  I helped by taking them with me to harvest skullcap, having them collect bee balm flower heads with me, and having them taste, feel, and smell nature for themselves along the way.

So yeah…I smile when I see rose hip stains on our clothes, piles of violets on the rug, and other mysterious flowers laid out on the shelf.    This is evidence that they are curious, they are exploring nature, and they have learned a thing or two about what a gift all this really is.

Raising kids that love and appreciate the outdoors didn’t take a lot of research, lectures, worksheets, or technology (former teacher here, sorry), it took me just doing what I love most: growing medicinal plants and exploring our property to find native plants, herbs, and mushrooms to make medicine with.

Life is full of lessons.  The simplest lesson I’ve learned in a while is this: that kids don’t necessarily learn from what we SAY all the time, they learn from what we DO!



Getting Back what was Lost

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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…