The Laughing Otter- because life’s just too short

Archive for September 2010

It’s fall, and thus it is time for ‘putting by’- and that means us herbalists as well!

All summer I’ve been gathering herbs from the mountainside, and now I can proudly look at my counter stuffed with jars of oils, tinctures and dried herbs and think “We can now make it through the winter.”

Of course, I also look and say “If only I’d gotten that mullein on time” or “Too bad the first batch of yarrow molded!” but really, my apothecary is full, I have oils made that cost me nothing more than time and olive oil (instead of $11.00 an ounce purchased in a store!) and my first aid kit is stocked.

I have comfrey and calendula salve for the inevitable scrapes and bruises from the icy walkways and the cuts and scrapes from fall yardwork. There’s bottles of St. John’s Wort oil for aching muscles and damaged nerves, and comfrey oil for reducing scars and helping connective tissues. There’s even a comfrey-St John’s oil for those aching arthritic joints that the honored elders in my family get when the weather changes! (And for my own aches from old injuries! If only I’d known years ago what herbs could do!)

There’s garlic oil for rubbing into feet or dripping into ears. Mullein leaves dried to be burned, incense smudge style, for racking coughs. Yarrow leaf for bleeding wounds, yarrow flowers for diaphoretic infusions for fevers (That means they’ll make you sweat and help your body use the fever to it’s best ability!) Bunches of dried lavender decorate my tables and windows, filling the house with a rich smell of flowers as well as easing tension and stress.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near done! There’s a dozen jars of herbs on the counter waiting to be ground and encapsulated into a woman’s balancing blend for my sister, another five waiting to be made into caps for -me-. Dried elderberries are reminding me that I need to make syrup and candies for the long winter months, and my empty nettle jar is telling me I need to get out and find more infusion herbs. I do need to get out and find at least a few mullein flowers, for the inevitable earaches that come every winter to my family of men who won’t wear hats, and then the fall cleaning up before things close- flea powder for the carpets, new flea strings for the dogs, and herbal concoctions of baking soda and herbs to scrub the surfaces, vinegar to foam it all up, and then disinfecting with thyme or rosemary.

Pomanders to scent the house over the winter (Those are oranges or lemons with whole cloves stuck into them, sometimes in patterns and sometimes just everywhere, and then let dry. They scent the house with a delicious citrus/clove smell!) Lavender and cedar sachets to protect my clothes from moths…

The list goes on and on, but every day that I look around, I can be satisfied with what I’ve made- a house free of chemicals, a family in good health with the freedom to choose their healthcare instead of being forced into the trap of ‘OTC meds or misery’ and the satisfaction of knowing that I made all this with my own hands.
It’s a good fall.

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