Some days are purely magical, the sun is warm and friendly, the breeze fresh and cool. But then there are days that seem, well, less than lovely, days a bit like today. That once-friendly sun is blazing down on earth with a vengeance, that refreshing breeze seems to have up and blown away, and my companions, as I sit here on the mossy rock of my thoughtful spot, are rather less fairytale-like than the flowers and damselflies that met me here only a month ago. Invisible biting flies are swarming around me and I have that irritating sensation that some tiny thing is crawling around my ankles or on my arms or behind my neck and I just can’t shake it even though I know there’s nothing there… and it’s quite maddeningly distracting.
Sometimes my thoughtful spot isn’t very conducive to thinking.
Far from a wholly unpleasant moment, however, I marvel as I sit here at how much can change in the course of a month. The leaves are still green above me, the moss still vibrant below, the waterfall still tumbles down its lopsided ledge, yet there are myriad little changes that mark the past month’s events and the progress of the season. A flood swept through this creek not three weeks ago, the bank on which my seat resides has been carved out by the rushing water and the ledge has crept quite close to my feet. Further downstream the sandy gravel of the creek bed has been washed away to reveal three short, deep ledges of smooth, black bedrock. They lead upstream like steps, one could imagine they are leading to the great front gates of some formidable and ancient castle.
I walked here by a different route today. Up and over the hill of the upper pasture, through knee-deep yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) and blackberry brambles (Rubus moluccanus) and Iron Weed (Vernonia fasciculata) sentinels towering straight and valiant over my head. But growing hidden in the tall grass was another familiar face - Self-heal. Prunella vulgaris, this many-blossomed member of the mint family, has been known by many names - heal-all, woundwort, heart-of-the-earth - and it truly does live up to them. It’s been revered for centuries for its powerful wound healing properties, support of the immune system, and ability to soothe sore throats and allergy symptoms. The cheery purple flowers are said to grow everywhere mankind can live. It has always seemed a quite a heroic little herb to me.
When little Elves have cut themselves, or Mouse has hurt her tail,
Or Froggie's arm has come to harm, this herb will never fail.
The fairy's skill can cure each ill and soothe the sorest pain;
She'll bathe and bind, and soon they'll find
That they are well again.
- The Song of the Self-Heal Fairy
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