Partly Sage, Rosemary, and a Little Time

Staci Strauss

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I love it when the seasons truly change–not that Indian Summer thing where you put away your winter coat and run around barefoot, just to awaken to another frost-bitten morning, but the change that occurs when the chimney sweep has come and gone and the peppermint is taking over the garden once again. About a month ago, I raked the fall leaves from their protective cover of my herb garden, and sure enough, despite the hard layer of snow and ice that pressed them for the better part of five months, there they were. Little bits of green. Rosemary. Oregano. Sage. Thyme. Peppermint. Lemon Balm. Lavender.

All had the courage and the stealth to re-emerge as if the cold never happened.

Craig has decided to build a pierre sèche stone wall around the herb garden this year. The wood planks we installed the year we moved in were rotting and shabby–and not chic!

So as the herbs emerge from their dormancy, this lovely blue wall gets bigger each day, providing a protective cocoon for the medicine within.

Infusions are soothing. They are a great part of self-love, self-care.

I’ve been studying the medicinal value of herbs for most of my adult life, and have recently been making infusions of all sorts from dried herbs, fresh herbs, hot water, cold, all depending on what I read and dream. This morning it was peppermint, nettles and yarrow. My choices are purely intuitive and should not be construed as medical advice to anyone for any reason (is that enough of a disclaimer?)

But here’s what I’ve noticed.

Infusions are soothing. They are a great part of self-love, self-care. When my tummy rumbles, I pour nearly boiling water over two tablespoons of dried peppermint from my garden, and let it sit for about ten minutes. I add some raw local honey and as I sip, my stomach immediately settles.

Passionflower settles my nerves, as does Lemon balm. If I really want to chill, I combine a cup of dried sage, four tablespoons of passionflower and one tablespoon of lemon balm, pour one quart of hot water and steep for four hours. I drink it cold or add hot water. It lasts in the fridge for a week.

Of course, plant medicine is nothing new to indigenous cultures, their survival depended on things growing out of the ground, for eating and doctoring. My go-to tome is Healing Secrets of the Native Americans: Herbs, Remedies, and Practices That Restore the Body, Refresh the Mind, and Rebuild the Spirit by Porter Shimer. (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, New York)

Here’s what Porter says about mint:

Mint was one of their (Native Americans) most cherished medicines, used to aid digestion, reduce fever, relieve stomach pain, soothe menstrual cramps, treat colds, stop colic in babies, and increase appetite in people who were sick.

I’ve just begun my journey into deeper knowledge of healing plants and plant medicine. To quote a great friend, a wine expert in Beaune, France, Paul Cadieau, “I will die a learner.”

But in the meantime, I’m going to make a cup of tea.