Originally Posted April 9, 2014
Summer has passed and I now have a little quiet time to write and share some of the happenings here at Moonwise Herbs. We had a very busy summer, running several of our intensives progams as well as attending fairs and festivals. We harvested food and medicine throughout the summer months. One of the highlighs of my summer was the fact that I learned to harvest Manoomin or wild rice which is known to the Objibwe as Manoomin (Zizania palustris). The plant is an aquatic grass and is not related to rice at all. The plants grows in lakes and rivers and is harvesting from canoe, in which one person knocks the rice with two sticks and the other person stands in the back of the canoe and with a long pole, pushes the canoe through the rice bed. I went to harvest twice and both times, I found the experience to be timeless. As we moved through the rice bed and I knocked the rice into the boat, I felt transported back in time. It was truly a timeless moment in nature.
We just returned from the Mother Earth News Fair, just outside of Pittsburgh, PA, where the fall colors were magnificant! The seasons are one of the ways we can stay in touch with a natural rhythm. Often our busy lives cause us to loose sight of the natural world. Yet the vibrant yellow and red colors that are all around here in the midwest are difficult to ignore. ‘
The colors often beckon me and draw me into a trance. It seems that I am not the only person who feels this way. Today I visited the local farm where we get milk and the woman who works in the store spoke about riding her horse and being acutely aware of the sumac, which is bright red at the moment. She was so fascinated with the colors she expressed the desire to have this plant, which some consider a nuisance, growing on her farm. Plants are clever in their approach to being moved around and the colors seemed to be one of their strategies.
Plants are continually moving and changing. This is most noticable at this time of year. Yet, if we pay attention we can see the plants changing all of the time. Finding ways to tune into plants and to discover their essence is a continual quest for myself and many herbalists. This summer we hosted herbalist Isla Burgess of New Zealand for a weekend of workshops. Isla is an herbal elder and has gone through many incarnations as an herbalist. Most recently she is focused on wholistic and particpatory science. She invited us to be a participant in what I am now calling Plants in Motion. One of the ways that Isla instructed us to experience plants movement is to draw the same plant everyday, over time. Drawing a plants for a year can help us to see how a plant which seems so slow is continually moving. Drawing plants can help us to notice things we would miss upon first glance.I have begun incorporating this practice into my own life and teachings. This has brought much more awareness and acute observation skills.
Another concept that was gifted to me late this summer, while sitting in canoe learning to collect wild rice, is the concept of “timeless moments”. Timeless moments is exactly what sitting in a canoe collecting wild rice feels like. Being with plants offers us an opportunity to leave, if even for a moment, our busy lives. I have had this experience most strongly when I am on the water. Collecting seaweed has always seemed timeless to me. Something that many generations before me have done and hopefully many more will sit in a hand powered boat, knocking rice or pulling seaweed into the boat. Preparing wild food, whole food from scratch as well as simple herbal medicines feels timeless as well. Having these moments reminds me that I am part of a tradition, part of something that humans have been doing for centuries. It helps me know that I belong on this planet.
Making sauerkraut has always felt like a moment out ot time and I was inspired when my mother shared a memory she had of her great grandmother making sauerkraut. Realizing that my obecession with seaweed is probably rooted in my Irish ancestory. This is a wonderful time of year to focus on these insights. As the leaves change color and then fall to the ground, I too am shifting and letting go of things. Letting go of what is no longer serving me and letting in what will serve me. This is what I like to call permeable boundries. Just as sustainability is a verb, a process of deepening our understanding of life, permeable boundries support our every changing lives. So not only are plants in motion, but people are as well. We have this in common and can share a lot while breathing and ingesting plants.
Below you will find links to several youtube videos that will offer you a glimpse into activities that provide me with timeless moments. Perhaps these traditional skills will bring rejuventating moments to you as well. And I am sure you can find activities that bring you back to timeless moments, that can offer a much needed connection to the true essence of our place here on the planet.
In the upcoming months we will be offering workshops on traditonal skills and wisdom. Whether you join us in person, watch a video, take an oline course or simply read our newsletter, we hope that you will join us in discovering the precious moments offered by the plants.