Most of you know I grew up in Iowa on the prairie. I lived on about seven acres of land that was quite beautiful. Our house was on top of a marvelous hill for sledding in the winter. At the bottom of the hill, a wide creek wove through the edge of the land we owned with trees gracing her on either side of her banks. I loved living in the country! Whenever a mood would overtake me, whether I was happy or sad, angry, or grateful, it was always a good time for a long walk. The rustling leaves spoke to me kindly when the breeze was gentle, and the wind was cold and brisk. They sometimes gave me a firm talking to. Regardless, they always gave me what I needed. A railroad trestle bridged the creek right on the border of our land and I often walked on it peering down at the view like an eagle high above the creek. Along the tracks I met a lot of plants, I didn’t know most of them by name and I’m not sure I even cared but I loved them just the same. I remember wild roses grew everywhere with five soft petals on every flower. They felt gentle to me and soft like a kindly friend who was there each time I needed them. How many times I remember running down the hill toward the creek when my bare brown legs would feel the sting of the nettles as I rubbed against them. No matter! It was worth the exhilaration of the moment. I could unleash wild thoughts and feelings in the open air with no one else around but the wind, the trees, and the plants. The wide blue skies above lifted me up while the dark black earth below my feet grounded me. I always felt this deep friendship with the earth on these solitary walks, no matter the season and no matter my mood. I was wrapped in the earth and she was my secret friend. I could go to her and never be disappointed. She gave me everything she possessed in the moment I was with her. Her softness, her fury, and her gentle caress. I remember the stiff horsetail growing in boggy water. I could pick it and pull it apart at its joints. I don’t really remember if I knew its name at the time, but it didn’t matter, I grew to know horsetail through a friendship of unspoken words and the interaction of a deeper relationship than a botany book could give me. I remember trudging back up the hill in the autumn with my jeans covered with sticky burdock seeds. Ugh! One by one I would pick each one off. That didn’t matter too much either because I just felt good. I was invigorated and all was well again.
That was a long time ago. I don’t live in on the prairie anymore. Now I know more plants on a first name basis, but the soul connection is still the same. A walk in the woods still gives me the same gift as a walk on the land of my childhood. I look at plants not only as I did as a girl, but I also connect with them on the level of an herbalist. I now understand how they can help mend physical imbalances of those I care for and how they balance the emotional turbulence many of us feel from day to day. I can put a plant in a cup of tea for nourishment or a tincture for medicine. I can reach out and touch a plant in the wild and feel it reach into my soul. Or I might just pick a wild bouquet and bring it into my home and watch it transform the energy of those who enter. They often smile and tell me how good it makes them feel. And that my dear friends, is herbal medicine!