(Aaron, me, the younger one on top of my brother, on Grandma's lap)
Growing up, my family would always take a Summer vacation together. Many of our trips were camping...and I mean real camping - living off the land, packing only what we could bring in backpacks, and eating only what we could source or catch ourselves. Over time, as us kids grew up and became more picky about things (like most kids do), we moved our camping into cabins and added a little more convenience to our vacations...but there is still nostalgia that surrounds living out of a tent for a week and being one with the land.
One of our favorite camping trips that I always remember is when we would camp out at Lake Silica in very north Minnesota, bordering Canada. If you weren't paying attention, you could easily hike into Canada or paddle your canoe across the borders. My family always preferred staying in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) of Minnesota - it was a magical area of the state where all the hustle and bustle of the city life stopped, the sky and the earth would meet each other at the horizon during twilight. Our special camping sites were places that had to be hiked to - we would park about 15-20 minutes away from the campgrounds, hike to the lake, and then have to canoe us and all of our belongings across the lake to find our resting spot.
Being the youngest of the family, I always had the very important task of riding on grandpa's shoulders and monitoring the group, carrying the empty water jugs, and keeping spirits high. During our stay, we would fish for our meals, forage recognizable berries (Raspberries and Mulberries mostly), make Pine Needle tea and boil water for hot cocoa, stay up late for campfires, and hike to all new parts of the land. Being such an active young lad, I was the one to always come up with inexplicable ouchies and booboos (bruises, bumps, scrapes and scratches, cuts, burns, etc.), I was always having too much fun to realize that I had hit something and injured myself.
Now, as a young 28 year old, starting a family of my own, I am still very active and still obtaining random, unexplained ouchies and booboos, but I am now prepared! Following my life's journey, I have encountered the practices of herbalism, realizing that some of the teachings we learn today are what my family grew up with. Here are some of my favorite field practices:
- Plantain spit poultice for anything that needs to be drawn out of the skin, like a splinter, insect bite, or woodland floor debris
- Yarrow for any cuts, burns, or throbbing wounds
- Pine Needle tea for a slight adrenal boost and to bring up memories from back-in-the-day
On my most recent family vacation, with my wife and 2 Great Danes, we camped out on the very southern tip of the Appalachian mountains, near Blue Ridge, Georgia. During our stay, we visited the local shops and connected with local herbalists, tea businesses, and other like-minded people. When we weren't visiting town, we were hiking the trails with the pups, playing in the nearby lake, hiking an awesome river/stream/hiking trail, and completely immersing ourselves into what nature has to offer.
Now that we know how to identify medicinal plants, are always on the lookout for the common culprits - both medicinal and toxic. One day, while hiking our awesome river/stream/hiking trail, one of our kiddos (Scooch) had managed to slip on a rock and put a gash in his leg, peeling about an inch of skin back. Luckily, we were able to find Plantain and apply a poultice of it back at the cabin to pull out any rocks or debris, sanitized the wound, and applied some salve to seal up the wound, stopping the bleeding (looks like I have passed on my quality of always being active and bleeding!!).
Among our packed items, we always include a small emergency kit full of first aid herbs - a variety of salves, tinctures, and teas. Our selections range from Echinacea, Wild Bergamot, Elderflower or other immune supporting herbs, Comfrey, Yarrow, and one of our favorites...the First Aid Salve. It is a blend that we always like to keep stocked at our house for anything that goes wrong. I am very thankful for knowing what I have learned about the flora that grows where I grow, it teaches us more than what we may realize. I have learned that there is an herb for almost anything you can think of, you just have to know how to apply it to the situation.
*Consult your healthcare practitioner before taking any liquid supplements. Do not take if pregnant or nursing. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This was such a good read and also a good reminder how far most of us have come from our “roots”. There has to be a lot of peace of mind in knowing that you have the tools/plants/herbs to help in these situations that always arise no matter what we are doing in life. I share your love for nature. I am older now; but the natural world has brought so much joy to my life. Thanks so much for sharing!!
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