Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stepping Up The Pace: May Days

I have had a very busy weekend. The weather was beautiful, which was a plus; low humidity, no rain (except for that freakish thunderstorm on Friday night; milking goats in a horse-trailer in a hailstorm is INTENSE!) That night, the milker malfunctioned, and Peter had to rescue us; as a result, we spent several hours at the farm, and the goats were frantic by the time I was able to milk them. Later, after driving in the thunder, lightning and hail, I was very happy to arrive home in one soggy, exhausted piece. Home has been a comfort after these long, long days, despite its never-ending list of unfinished chores. I usually find something for us to have for dinner, then have a glass of wine and fall asleep on the couch; my body simply checks out. Friday was no exception. Peter called me to bed at 1 AM, and I finished the night sleeping like a baby.

Sleeping With Whiffer

I have been sleeping quite well. Of course, I’m physically exhausted because of my time with the goats, but I also think the depth of my sleep is aided by the lavender sachet I keep in my pillowcase. The first few nights I used it, I was annoyed by the strong perfume of the herb, but it truly did (and does) promote a good night’s sleep. On those nights when I’ve been agitated, I’ve been taking a mixture of either valerian or passionflower extract in water; both are soothing and calming; my herbal course is teaching me so much.

On Saturday morning, my first order of business was preparing a meal for Earl; I completed this before Peter even rose from bed, and when he did, I was ready to leave. I had plans to gather stinging nettle while I was on the Parkway, and left with my gathering gear and Earl’s lunch in hand. When I arrived, I was shocked to find Earl fast asleep; since his stroke last fall, I’ve been afraid to find him in distress when I arrive, and this morning shocked me. I leaned in closer, to see if he was OK, and saw that he was breathing, and snoring quietly. His belongings were lined up neatly and deliberately in front of him. It occurred to me then that he had endured a night of torrential rain and thunder, and had most likely been awake for a good part of it, so I left his food by his side and left him to his dreams. I can’t imagine being an “outdoor man”, as Earl calls himself. I can imagine it in the best of times, but not during floods, or blizzards, or windstorms. I remember what Van Gogh wrote about the mistrals; the relentless sound of the wind had an effect on a person’s mind. I wonder how Earl copes with the extremities he chooses to endure. I know what he’d say: “I just don’t think about it.”
"Starry Night", Vincent van Gogh

I tiptoed off into the wild plants that line the stream bed, just west of Earl’s place under the bridge. I knew that the stinging nettle grew there from my previous foraging walks, and as I walked through the wet grasses that morning, I wasn’t disappointed. The infant nettles had grown into hip-high, bright green plants, and were abundant. As suggested in the wildcrafting lessons I’ve taken, I asked (internally) for permission before I cut them, and I only cut the tops, allowing the rest of the plant to produce more foliage and feed the root. Though I felt welcome to harvest a good basketful of the nettles, I felt strongly driven to leave certain shoots and take others; and when I had gathered a good bunch of them, I felt the permission withdrawn. As in previous gathering expeditions, I feel a definite communication with the plant world; it’s intuitive, sub-lingual, but strong, and (to me) real. Though I hesitate to discuss it, for fear of being judged unstable, I have always had a communion with Nature on this level. I speak to her in my mind as I wander or gather; I always have. I am only now learning to hear (and acknowledge) her responses.

Stinging Nettle

I didn’t suffer one sting from the nettle; I brought it home, and spread it on the picnic table to dry. I plan to share the dry herb with Kathy, who uses it for tea, and to save some for myself as it’s a good treatment for allergies which affect my entire family. It’s a good addition to my collection of natural supports.

Peter and I spent the day cleaning the shed, assessing our supply of potting materials, and sorting the things we no longer needed. We sorted into recyclables, trash and thrift store donations, and the things that were leaving the shed were put right into the bed of my truck. This was no small task. We stopped at about 3:30, with several items still out of place in the yard. The goats were calling, as they do every day, and I needed to attend them. Peter helped me unload a few items at the thrift store, then met me at the farm.

The "Million Dollar Cat", helping me feed the goats.

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