I don't know whether I chose the herbs, or the herbs chose me. What I can tell you is that they've always been a part of my life. Working with them is natural, innate and simply feels like home.
My introduction to the world of plants began as a little girl. My PawPaw was a Baptist preacher in Fort Worth, Texas. I spent most of my days at his parsonage where my Great Aunt
Gertie kept a watchful eye on me. His next-door neighbor was a delightful gentleman, who always had time and patience for a young girl with ten thousand questions. Mr. Norris would invite me over once a month in the spring and summer to enjoy sherbet on his front porch. I would leave that porch filled with sherbet, knowledge and a beautiful red rose.
It was there that I got my knowledge on all thing’s roses. Not only did they look pretty and smell wonderful, but they were used to make perfume and cosmetics, Mr. Norris informed me. From that moment, I was hooked. I spent hours as a child in my backyard examining all the plants that grew there. I discovered a book about Botany in the library and read it several times. I think we had to pay a fine for the mysterious loss of that book. My lips are still sealed on the particulars of the incident.
My Great Aunt Gertie became my source of traditional folk medicine or “roots” as it’s called in my community. Ginger root boiled for a sour stomach. Mint bruised and put into Sunday tea. A poultice made with sulphur to draw the poison out. She had a cure for everything. And it could all be found either in the kitchen cabinet or in her small backyard.
I listened to her for hours on end. While most kids would rather be outside playing, I always loved to sit at the feet of my elders. Gleaning the wisdom and listening to the stories. It is because of them all that I have found my true calling as an Herbalist. The old ways, the cures that we modern folk use to laugh at.
Now, I spend hours planting the herbs that will one day become a remedy for friends,family and neighbors. I play chemist in my small craft room, combining medicinal herbs to make salves and oils to cure common ailments. I’m not knocking modern medicine, it has a place in among the chamomile and lemongrass. But for true healing, we need the best of both worlds.
Yes, looks like the herbs choose me. As a tradition keeper in my family, I am duty bound to continue a lineage of natural healing. I am destined to take long walks in the woods foraging for ancient, wild herbs. And to answer the call of the herbs to heal myself, my family and my community.