on the verge

perched at the edge of a new year, winter is quickly taking over, the sages and kales lone gren survivors outside. dreamtime, most difficult and unforgiving time of year for some, but a blessing in disguise. in our culture it  is difficult to respect the dreamtime, to turn off the expectations and obligations of the great machine and dreeeeeeeam. yet a vast and amazing reservoir of healing does exist. waiting for us to tap in like a maple tree, flowing with the xylem and phloem of life.

vitamin d deferred

i am on the verge. on the verge of a new year. on the verge of the subconscious. i used to think at any moment the stars would align and i’d finally be the awesome person i always wanted to be. i am not waiting anymore. i am doing.

verge-noun, an edge or border

an extreme limit beyond which something will happen

a grass edging

a wand or rod carried in front of a bishop or dean as an “emblem of office”

old french from latin-virga-rod

verge-verb-to incline in a certain direction

from latin vergere-to bend, incline


the verge is where i am often, but it is especially noticeable in the winter when quiet and cold take over, when many distractions have left town and i am left with myself. i have made my peace with the winter, and the edge, and how i incline in various directions. it is not to say that i’m not still longing-longing for paris, for  someone else to clean my house, to be 6 ft tall and willowy, for tropical fruits and piles of cash. but that is a tiny part of my life. i am also revelling. reveling in my dreams, my power, the subconscious, words and writing, music, food, loving my best friend lover, appreciating my kids and dog and my 4’11 not so willowy amazing body and odd mind. winter feels giving to me in an inward way, a way i hesitate to call magical but what other word can we use for the subconscious reservoir that exists for all of our daydream lucid extrasensory instinctual needs.


the earth is still there for us. it does not need to be a juicy july fruitfest in order to feed us.  our whole self must be fed, mind, body and heart. the stuff we carry around can be sorted, the verge is a good time to choose what serves us and what does not. and dreams are a good way to decide.


oh, and herbs. winter is a fine time for herbs. elder and linden tea. mugwort tincture. my favorite bedtime blend- little sugar dream nectar. rubbing on of pine salves, spruce tips tea and warming foot rubs. ah, baths and steams ! nettles chai-with ginger, fenel, cinnamon. liquers made with chestnuts and chipotles and satsumas and cinnamon sticks. and vanilla, lusty vanilla. all spring-summer-fall i planted and harvested and tinctured and dried…..and now i enjoy the luxuries. the joy of what i made. the partnership of human and plant world. ach, what luck! what gratitude!

ever green!!

nothing like the moment when the heart just cracks open and we are levelled with thankfulness and optimism in the midst of what could only be called a twisted and obscene world. so, my friends, i wish you all the most brilliant new year ever, and extend my love and care to all of you. happy happy new year, happy dreaming and happy herbing.


weather, abandonment, despair, renewal

the arcade, america's first mall

my meditation for the winter is “trust in renewal”.

heads sought

the rain and snow only make us stronger and more fabulous. new england winter, nor’easter, wind up my skirt. it builds character.

ghost stairs

in the winter we have plenty of time to face our ghosts, or hide from our ghosts, or act like we don’t know they are all around us. the land, the buildings, the peeling paint, our families, our roots our own actions nothing disappears it just fades. it is hard to grasp history. it is easy to look away.

little chair

we wait for the sun to come back, wait for the green to reappear, wait for the plants to take back the buildings and the worms to take back the detritus of our lives. the gift of winter is time, time to try our tinctures and teas, time to write our poems and songs, time to play our music and be still and allow our meals to simmer for hours.

saints and stuff


it is my wish, on this day, the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, that we can find ourselves sharing, that we can feel our gratefulnes stirring, that we can find ways to forgive ourselves and see each other in a new light. a winter light.

empty playground


eat, drink and be merry, my friends, for our time here is short.

botanica art





an alder post of my own


i don’t usually post about individual herbs–there are “planty” of wonderful blogs out there of herbal monographs. however,  alder just isn’t getting it’s due. yes, i am talking about alder, not elder-alnus species. the tree. yes, i am mixing tree bark and liquor and calling it “medicine” and i love it.

i originally learned about alder medicine from kiva rose of the anima center, her wonderful blog the medicine woman’s roots is highly recommended. i stumbled across a freshly downed alder tree and dragged it home in the snow. it was fun taking the bark off and watching it turn red, drying it slightly to reduce the emetic property and making a beautiful tincture. i quickly met with many nasty situations in need of alder’s medicine-terrible cavity, sinus infection, bad clogged ear, swollen blocked lymphatics. worked 100% each time. sounds kinda ear-nose-throat—-but wait—-it worked wonderfully for the worst uti ever. with monarda.

so why isn’t alder in many modern books and stuff? well, like several of my absolute favorite medicines  it is not really available at the store. i sell the tincture and i’ve only had one request for it ever. one website calls it “tonic and astringent, cures ague.” yeah, they aren’t beating down my doors for THAT.  “contains tannin-astringent/diuretic.” have these people even tried it? maybe not. compare to a quote from kiva rose “alder is a primary herb in my practice”…houston, we have a problem. is it a conspiracy? probably not. i wonder if perhaps there is no “alder is good for x” crap that people love. how to understand a plant that has so many varied and  fabulous functions? why are we always trying to understand everything anyway? just try it.


alder seems to always grow near water whether with it’s feet in a river or just in a nice low-lying or mucky spot. don’t overlook muck, it produces some of the finest medicines in the world.  it is definitely cool in nature and can be combined with something warmer if needed. it is dry and moving. like MOVING so if you aren’t ready, buckle your seat belt. i like the tincture best but an oil can be applied externally or to ear infection. dried bark can be decocted. leaves, cones and catkins are used too.


alder can help us with things conventional medicine can’t, that which resists antibiotics or which modern medicine doesn’t even believe in. the next time someone tells you “it’s probably going to be fatal” give me a call, get some alder tincture….or better yet, make your own.

hot wings with the nutritionist: on judgement,

as an herbalist i am highly conscious of not judging the wonderful people who open up to me-in my little crowded apothecary, while my kids are discussing their play, while my dog comes in to check on us…dinner simmers….it is full-on reality show. as my patient opens up their life to me, my own life is playing out around us. there is no hiding at all in community herbalism. i am always reading my friends and family, and people on the bus or in grocery store lines, scanning for clues to health or illness. i can’t help it, it’s automatic.

“Lifestyle choices” can be a very sensitive issue. i dislike tv, juice, cheap plastic crap, Mc-mansions, baby formula and sudafed. but hell i am NOT up all night giving a crap whether or not you do, too.

And perhaps you dislike something I do?

you have too many kids! you don’t have enough kids! why don’t you save the earth by recycling!

Lest you think I do so with judgement, allow me to share a story. in conversation with a random guy at a party, i found he was a public  bus driver in providence. for those who don’t know, the ripta bus is a hotbed of insanity and desperation. I asked him how he managed to keep his cool in the day to day, and he said “love and respect to everyone.” that’s it, people. best. f-ing. advice. ever. you don’t have to like someone, you certainly don’t have to like their behavior. but when i am talking to someone about herbs or health, even when we are in disagreement, i hold respect for them as a person.

i am highly conscious of judgement-a young mom, working class with no formal education i have known my share of judgement from others. soemone else is always doing it better, has cuter kids or better-trained dogs or a fluffier cake. but you know what? so what. i love you, you love me, we are free to disagree. (yes, i hacked barney)

nature–photoshopped? or not?

next time you are outside, and i hope that is very soon, i have a fabulous meditation to share. nature is not a screen that was pulled down behind you. the outdoors are, somehow, not owned by wal-mart. yet. you are not posing with santa. look around you.  you can chew on this stuff.

wild animals!

sometimes it is very easy, and i am speaking from experience, to forget that the world is wild and we are not always modulated by screens and devices. we think of our “choice” as– which brand of X consumer goods should i purchase. but we are human animals first, consumers second. or 12th or whatever. choice also means should i lay down in this mossy patch and exchange energy with my surroundings now or later?

yeah, there is energy. you can claim religions or atheisms all you want, but nobody wants to admit to that vital force. whatever, don’t. it’s there.


i think this is a response to being in a craft store today, and being surrounded by fake flowers and ornaments, and realizing that we(humans) paved over a huge chunk of raw earth to sell crap that imitates the plants that we paved over. it’s just straight-up suspicious.  the holidays really bring out the best and the worst in our culture. the impulse to give, and the guilt which drives it. the love, and the ease with which it crumbles with a few cups of punch/truth serum. we are beautiful, and we are ill.

happy holidays.

i know it seems this has nothig to do with herbs. but it all comes back to forming relationships with plants and the world around us. getting to know plants intimately, making friends with random birds and pearls and piles of compost. don’t let your experience of the world be mediated by someone else. plants aren’t just for “gardeners” or “herbalists”. plants are for everyone!! intimacy is an art which we can practice at any time. nature  is always available to us, just waiting for us to notice!