D & I were walking Cora and Eva in a grassy field at the edge of the woods this morning. We like to make Cora run back and forth between us as we walk, because she is very young and we are very not, and this way she runs 10 times the distance we walk with Eva. But today as she was running Cora saw a bunny, and she chased it into the woods. Not really something to be concerned about for us, in hindsight, because she doesn’t kill bunnies, she just herds them, and she never runs far, because she also herds us. But…
As I watched her fluffy butt disappear into the dark forest, and yelled out for her to stop chasing the rabbit, at that same moment I stepped into a hole that was hidden by tall grass. My right ankle started to slip and twist, I overcompensated, and ended up somehow twisting my left foot far worse than the right one as I fell to the fortunately soft ground and landed on my fortunately well-padded butt. I had to sit there for 20 minutes to assess the damage and pain and see if I could walk back out of the woods to the car. I could. My right ankle was a little sore but ok. My left ankle was a lot sore but ok enough to get me to the car.
So, back when I was full-time writer, over the years I learned to not freak out too badly when bad things happening to me, because I came to understand that they’d be great stories later. This is how we connect–not just in our joy but in our pain. In our falling down. But I’ve got to say, today, it’s even more fun being an herbalist than a writer, because before we even made it home–as my left ankle was swelling up in the car ride home–I was thinking about all the plants at home, and which ones would help, and what form they might best help in. I was actually having fun plotting my own path to healing–while still in pain.
So one point, maybe, is that writers are weird, and herbalists are weirder. Or maybe this has nothing to do with what I do for a living and everything to do with what we all learn as we get older and become old hats at falling down. Another point, though, for me, is that I’ve learned that we give up something valuable beyond words when we put every health choice into the hands of pharmacists, prescription drug makers, and doctors. I love my doctor (nurse practitioner, actually). Will call her in a second if I can’t heal myself. Trust the scientists in my life too–good, deeply nerdy, introverts, all. And. I love trusting the plants here, and myself, and my herbalist community, too. I love how willing and able to help us the plants and trees and most humans–in all directions around us–truly are.
Eight hours have passed, and both my ankles feel so much better now. I started pampering the left one so much that it told me to switch and pamper the right one. I elevated them in turn, and iced them. Rubbed a created-in-the-moment blend of my comfrey, lavender, calendula, and rosemary infused oils into them. Drank comfrey tea with local honey. Ate vegetable soup with extra nourishing herbs. Later, I rubbed a little willow oil into them too as an experiment–I’m new to willow and just started making willow-infused oil last week when the county decided to cut our neighbor’s willow tree away from some power lines. Go willow! Then, I elevated and iced my ankles again. Wearing socks that are a bit compressiony now and that smell amazing because of the infused oils. Decided against using the cottonwood bud oil because I’m mostly better now, and I need that precious, powerful oil for my products this winter! This was all done out of intuition and instinct. Not my own. (My own instinct was to try to single-handedly save every small bakery on Whidbey during the pandemic by trying to eat all the pastries myself.) No, this is the intuition and instinct of the field, the forest, the herbs, the plants, and all the earthlings we’ve welcomed into our world here. All those who welcome us too.
I’m not 100% yet. Will keep the ankles elevated tonight and likely tomorrow too. Grateful for laptops that allow me to work on the couch with my feet up. And, wow, folks. Plants and trees, and fields and forests, are so very, very cool. Why did our ancestors ever let these powerful and healing relationships go? It occurs to me that many of them didn’t. Many held on even as they were killed and tortured and mocked and litigated for hearing tree wisdom and honoring plant friends and sharing that wisdom with others. The relationships are still there. The wisdom remains, although it can feel hidden. But I did let go at some point. And now that I’ve returned to the forests and fields, I can’t imagine ever going back.
Herbalists sing songs honoring the wisdom of grandmothers. One of my favorites has a line that says “Stand in your power, woman. Stand in your power. Listen, listen. Listen, listen.” My own power is in the fields and in the forest and in wild and untidy gardens, with honest, kind, and untidy people. And in the relationships among every being that lives and moves within the forests and fields here. These are good questions to revisit, because some answers change with time and some don’t. And it’s too easy these days to feel like we have no power. Where is my power now? And where, my friend, is yours? Great question, field and forest, bunny and fluffy dog butt. Thank you for asking.
38Cassie Firnstahl, Amy Jo McMullin Kasten and 36 others22 Comments2 Shares