Friday, August 20, 2010

Solidago canadensis

Goldenrod: "The oil or liniment makes a fabulous and very effective topical treatment for any sort of hurt, strained or damaged muscles."

This is the oil and liniment together. Yep, it works a treat.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Populus balsamifera

"Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?" ~Jeremiah 8:22

Two days in a row of heavy wind and intense thunder storms this week caused a bit of damage across the city including power outages, flooding and fallen trees. Luckily I only suffered minor flooding in my humble basement apartment and the trees in the park next to my house held up well. We did lose quite a few balsam poplar (also known as Balm of Gilead) branches.

Cutting through the park after work yesterday I noticed poplar buds all over the downed branches. The branches, buds and all came home with me and I spent a bit of time in the backyard this afternoon popping the buds off for tincturing.

At this time of year they're not nearly as deliciously sticky and aromatic as the buds I gathered in late winter and the medicine from them will be correspondingly milder. Still, they smell oh so heavenly and I can't wait to see how the tincture turns out!

The 6 to 8ft tall branches I was left with will eventually get used as plant supports in the garden.

Herbalist Ryan Drum has this great post on the harvesting, preparing and uses of poplar buds.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Pickle Crock

"Fermentation generally requires only a little preparation or work. Most of the time that elapses is spent waiting...Many ferments get better the longer you leave them. Use this time to observe and ponder the magical actions of invisible allies." ~Wild Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz

Tending the pickle crock takes a calm and watchful eye, a sense for transformation, patience and a little faith.

Tending the pickle crock requires testing and experimentation, but this is not hard science, nor is it conducted in a sterile environment.

The pickle crock is a living breathing thing. To care for it is to enter into a relationship with microorganisms and become responsible for their well-being.

The tender of the pickle crock is an alchemist, nurturing the miracle of transubstantiation.

The pickle crock is as mundane and dull as skimming surface mold, yet sacred and eternal as primordial, salty brine.