26 July 2006

A Short Story Note

I'm currently working on a short story involving legendary
medicine plants. The plant in question was known as the
"rattling plant" by the Mi'kmaq, and was mentioned in a
folklore article, written in the 1890s.

I'm attempting to interweave a number of elements into
this story, including animals, birds, plants, a legend-like
character I've created, humour, and dreaming. Yet, despite
so many elements, the story seems to be going together
in a straight-forward, easy to read, manner.

I'm experimenting with a sharp contrast approach to
the story; that is, I'm switching rapidly between different
elements within the story. For instance, I will be building
up some tension between the main character and the
mystery plant when, suddenly, I will switch to a bird or
animal and tell you what it's doing (often, in humourous
fashion). This releases the tension, but leaves the reader
wondering what's going to happen next.

I'm doing this story as part of a short story collection,
concerning my experiences with plants and various
characters over the past thirty years. The stories are
a combination of fact/fiction arising, in the main, from
my personal journey with plants and life.

All the best!

19 July 2006

Wild Foraging: A Healthy Exercise

Every now and then I like to go on a wild food foraging adventure.
Perhaps, spend a few hours during a morning or afternoon,
roaming about the woods and fields looking for tasty treats,
or plants that can be used as foods in an emergency situation.
It's a fun adventure and always a learning experience.

My last adventure took me into a mixed forest environment,
consisting mostly of maple, birch, spruce, pine, and the
occasional hemlock tree. This is a nice mixture and usually
occurs in soils that allow for a good variety of small plant cover
on the forest floor.

Among the first group of plants I look for, in terms of wild edibles,
are the wood sorrels (Oxalis L.). The leaves of those plants are
somewhat sour tasting, with a sweet accent. They make an
excellent addition to a salad, and are also useful for an herb
tea. Wood sorrels aren't related to the sorrels and docks of the
genus Rumex L., although they do have a similar flavour. Both
sorrels are best enjoyed raw.

Aside from the wood sorrel, I was also able to find and taste
blue violets, Indian cucumber, and sweet fern, among other

Both the leaves and flowers of blue violet are high in vitamins A
and C. For instance, a half-cup serving of the leaves contain as
much vitamin C as approximately three average size oranges.
The flowers have been used in making jams and syrups. As
well, blue violet was considered a powerful medicine plant in
traditional British and European herbalism.

The Indian cucumber root is a wonderful treat! It should not be
collected, as it is endangered in many areas. However, if you
find a location where there are a number of plants growing, it
is okay to dig out the root from a single plant. It is a crisp
tasting, white root. The taste reminds one of potato, but also
has added flavour that resembles a cucumber. I enjoy it a
great deal.

The leaves of sweet fern may be dried or used in a green state
to make a pleasant tasting tea. I don't think it's a tea that
should be used on a daily basis, especially if you are taking
prescription medications. Before drinking it regularly, I would want
to research the chemical nature of the plant more fully. However,
it's certainly a unique and pleasant tea to serve on occasion.

As I say, spending a few hours in the forest, finding wild edibles,
is an adventure and learning experience. It's relaxing and
therapeutic to our body, mind, and spirit. It's also a great way
to grow a friendship or relationship with another person. This is
something I hadn't considered until quite recently, probably
because I'm only now learning to live more fully from the heart.
I wish I had started earlier for a number of reasons. But that's
another story.

So, go for it. I challenge each of you to try at least one wild
edible between now and the next newsletter. But, remember,
try only a sample. Never, never, contribute to the over-collecting
or over-harvesting of wild plants. Finally, if you like, send me a
short note explaining what you've sampled. If I receive some
responses, I'll comment on them in the next newsletter.

Good medicine always!

Note: This is an article that appeared in the latest issue of the
Natural Healing Talk newsletter. You can subscribe to this
bi-weekly email newsletter, by going to the Wild World of Plants
website and filling in the subscription form.

10 July 2006

The Herbal Gathering and Fair

Hello Again,

I had a great time this past weekend at the herbal
gathering. The weather was beautiful on Saturday,
for my workshop and field walk. They went over
quite well, and I was pleased with the number of
people who participated in both events.

There always seem to be surprises on a field walk.
I was delighted to find the cat spruce (white spruce)
growing so plentifully in the Ship Harbour area. The
eastern shore of Nova Scotia seems to have a large
number of those trees. We were also able to locate
the indian tobacco (lobelia), although the plants were
quite small, and hadn't blssomed. The final rather
outstanding discovery for me, personally, was a
patch of bearberry plants. I hadn't noticed the plants;
they were found by one of the participants. I had
intended to collect some of the leaves before
returning home on Sunday, but neglected it.

I did make one rather glaring mistake during the field
walk, and that was to briefly mis-identify a stand of
young birch trees for alder! Often, simple mistakes
can be easy to make, when in the middle of a field
walk. I've made many mistakes over the years. It's
something one learns to live with, when doing such
things. But, mistake alder... I blame it on the heat:))

In the end, I think everyone at the herbal gathering
had a fulfilling and eventful weekend. I certainly made
a lot of connections, and renewed some old
connections. I look forward to participating in next
year's herbal weekend!

All the best!

07 July 2006

Nova Scotia Herbalist Meetings!


Well, I'm off to the Nova Scotia Herbalist meetings/festival in
Ship Harbour, Nova Scotia, tomorrow morning, July 8th. I'm to
give a workshop at 1:00 p.m., and a field walk at 2:30 p.m.

I'll be back on Sunday evening or Monday with a post, to tell
you how things went, and to give my impressions of the event.

I've never given a field walk on the eastern shore of the
province, so this will be a new experience for me.

See you soon!

03 July 2006

Natural Healing Talk Web Site, Online!

Hi Everyone,

After much thought, deliberation, and work, I've launched my
new web site, Natural Healing Talk. This is the companion
site to my newsletter of the same name. The site is incomplete,
in that I have lots to add to it, such as a subscription form to
my newsletter, and a "links" page. Please visit the site at the
following URL: www.naturalhealingtalk.com, and have fun
looking around.

For the moment, you can subscribe to the newsletter by
sending an email to subscribe@wildworldofplants.com, with
"subscribe" in the subject heading space.

Oh yes, if anyone has a particular topic they'd like to see
covered in the newsletter, or in an article on the web site,
please forward your topic suggestions to me. I'd be happy to
consider your suggestions in this regard.

Well, so long for now. I'll be back in a few days with another

All the best!