I’m with my lovebug at the river. Hunkered down we creep along the edge.
I get a deep somatic sense that humans rarely, if ever, come this way.
I like that. There is a tranquil presence.
The plants are Spring vibrant green. I’m beginning to get muddy. Unkempt.
The walking is hard. Swinging from moss covered branches I find myself surrounded by plants I have not yet met.
I am intrigued. Delighted.
This is why I forage and gather. To feel primal again. To feel again. To feel how my fifty plus body responds to the environment it finds itself in.
I feel still and calm. Alert. I drink in the ambience. Drink deep and am quenched.
Half an hour later, I am unsure actually as I have no time piece to micro manage me. A freedom to be unleashed from a digital device.
Half an hour, or maybe not, I sit with said bliss wench in the arms of an ancient willow. Memories of childhood wandering the riverside. Clasping willow branches to steady myself. Who needs a gym.
Having rested. Felt the wildness embrace us. Sighed a lot. We continue. The sun beams down on us. Hot like summer. But this is Spring.
Later, I think, we pause again by hawthorn. Full bloom and smelling divine. I notice some flower buds. Then more. An urge to pick starts murmuring.
My love-friend walks ahead. She gets tired of me stopping every few yards to ponder. The very silent question always being asked: “what’s that?”
The same questioning and curious mind I have lived with all my life.
The same one that got me punished at ten years old for asking too many questions. Questions, most likely the adults didn’t have answers to.
I asked deep questions as a child. Still do. Life is a mystery. Why not ask questions?
So I gather the hawthorn buds and some flowers. I am slow and methodical. I feel my fingers touching hawthorn skin. Its scent surrounds me. Seducing and teasing me to enter deep into its mystery.
I find myself entranced. The occasional thorn and twig breaks off in my hand. And finally I return from my sensuous, somatic journey. And few small handfuls that I know is enough.
Our walk lasts a few hours, traipsing where no one has gone.
I leave the hawthorn buds and blossoms, leaves and thorns to sit over night in a paper bag.
The next day I gently take them out and press them into an old honey jar. Pour the remains of the raw cider vinegar I have left, over them.
There is exactly enough hawthorn to fill my small jar and exactly enough vinegar left to cover them.
My medicine has been made. I’ll shake it every day. Remembering the tree I picked from. How it told me when enough was enough.
No rush. No haste. Just a quiet dance. Me and hawthorn. Hawthorn and me.
I’m not interested in micromanaging my medicine. I am a folk herbalist. Not measurements. Not alcohol. Not industrial.
Just the very, very ancient ways we used to gather and make medicine. Before clocks came into being. Before scales and grain alcohol.
A time when we lived more present. A time when we lived through feelings rather than over thinking everything.
A time when states and lawmakers had never been dreamed. A time of freedom, liberation and wildness.
This was the old way. Maybe a plant talked to you. Maybe it didn’t. What matters is the sensorial connection with place and plants.
I have to be patient. Wait for hawthorn to impregnate my vinegar mixture.
Wait for the medicine making to work it’s magic.