Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Day In the Woods

There's just so much going on her lately, who has time to expound?  By the time I'm done with the harvesting and preparation I am ready for bed!  

I feel that the lack of good pics in the blog lately has made it a bit bland.  My camera is having technical issues, so I finally broke down and used the phone.  Please, forgive the poor quality of these photos :)  Besides, here is a nice little shot of our wood nettle, laportea canadensis.  We took a field trip to the "hills" last week for a day of harvesting.  When your days are full of flatland living, there is NOTHING quite like a day in the woods.

My house carried the aroma for days after because of the many strands of nettles hanging to dry.  Just today I stuck my nose in the jar and, aaaaah, woodlands.  

On this particular day of harvesting, I had an amazing experience not with the nettles, but with the skullcap growing around it.   Our skullcap (scutellaria lateriflora) isn't quite blooming yet, but there are many buds and even more small shoots.  I injured my neck the night before (I have a very specific vertebrae that likes to rotate at the slightest invitation, leaving me nearly immobile.  There have been occasions when I couldn't get out of the bed without assistance.) and was trying to navigate my day with limited mobility and quite a bit of pain.  One would think I might stay home and rest, but I was called to the woods.  

While harvesting nettles, I would occasionally munch on the leaves and flower buds of the skullcap.  We had a great harvest, a picnic by the creek, and then headed home.  It wasn't until I had been in the car nearly an hour when I felt a bit a discomfort.  With that came the realization that I had full mobility in my neck and had not felt a twinge of pain in hours!  The skullcap was so effective I had forgotten about the painful misalignment altogether.  Skullcap is wonderfully powerful for loosening up tight muscles to allow vertebrae to return to their appropriate positions, so it may not sound so amazing.  Understand that I use skullcap regularly and have never achieved such results.

In the latter months of my last pregnancy, I lived amongst the skullcap and munched on the flowering plants regularly, with a little relief from the tense muscles and structural weakness I experienced then.  I have tinctured this plant in the flowering stage twice and get a really nice medicine, but none of my previous experiences compare to this.  It renews my faith and fascination with the potential of the unopened flower bud!  Not to mention that the great majority of the plants I ate did not even have flower buds, but were leaves alone.  So, I am going to tincture the plant pre-flowering this year and compare it with previous preparations.  There are so many variables (pregnancy, various years, ingesting directly vs tincture) I do not know what to expect.  I will be sure to share what I find.  A plant geek like myself gets excited over this stuff!

Just a few of the other flowers we have seen here recently...yellow trilliums, or trillium luteum.  It is pretty much finished blooming for this year.  They are so many in number that it is hard not to step on them!
There was an unusually plentiful display of Jack-in-the-pulpits...
...not to mention, the largest community of solomon's seal I have ever seen!   Ignoring the poor picture quality, I am trying to show how the individual flowers are hanging below the leaves, in comparison to a false solomon's seal with the flowers as a terminal cluster at the end of the leaves.

As usual, any trip to the woods is a satisfying one :)  If you live in or near an undisturbed woodland, take a trip out and look around.  Even if you don't find amazing pain relief, there are lots of beautiful wildflowers to see, and don't forget to root around in the leaf litter for that delicious smell of woodland earth.  Decay never smelled quite so good :)

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