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Writing as things come to me.

Not everything you see will always be coming across as fully formed thoughts. I tried to sit down before and write perfectly formed articles with everything perfectly coherent… and failed. Mostly I’m snatching moments of thought. I remember mama sticking just dusted off chickweed in my mouth when I was very very small saying “Taste it!” or the seed pods off the beautiful pink wood sorrel that was all over my aunt Ode’s yard.

My aunt Odella Morgan (Ode to us) had a little falling down shack in Warren, Texas and was my mother’s oldest sister. Born in 1906, she remembered my great grandmother Nancy-Ann very well and had studied at her knee to learn all the remedies she used. When she understood that I was interested in plants, she was delighted to say the least. Her yard was filled with plants, lemongrass, chili pequin, gardenia bushes the size of large cars, hydrangeas, four-o-clocks, a fig tree that three of us couldn’t wrap our arms around the trunk and she had the branches braced up with 2x4s. Everything imaginable… and one memory sticks out.

At the edge of her porch was growing this great massive tree of a crepe myrtle. Mama was walking past and stopped and stared. There were fruit hanging from the crepe myrtle tree! That didn’t make sense… crepe myrtles don’t fruit. I remember mama being completely and utterly confused standing there looking at this tree going “Ode? What the hell?” I can still hear the bewilderment in her voice.
What? Oh that? That’s some chayotes I stuck in the ground.
“Why are they in the crepe myrtle though?”
Because it’s easier that way!

I can’t help but laugh. I do this nonsense now. I have catnip and a jackfruit seedling growing in with my avocado tree. And now I understand why she did it. Apparently the squash will rot quickly if in contact with the ground and needs a trellis. Cue the wheels turning. She’s got a tree that is easy for it to climb, and it is right next to the porch for easy harvesting. I’d do it too!

So pardon me if sometimes I take a left turn into memory, and I apologize for the black walnut post. Eventually I’ll sit down, collect all my thoughts and turn it into a proper post. In time.

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On the subject of mint…

Sitting here going through my pictures I’m reminded of something that I like to point out to help people identify.

All mints have square stems. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words and when digging through some of my older pictures I took of some henbit, I came across this.

IMG_4589

Rather proud of myself because I managed to illustrate it perfectly. But more often than not, you can feel it between your fingers when you twirl it. Even if you can’t see it.

A favorite nibble… Chickweed.

One of my favorite winter nibbles. Chickweed is ubiquitous in all but summer in Texas. Normally you will find it growing on the north side of the house in the dead of winter, or in the early spring when everything is just waking up. There’s a million recipes out there for chickweed pesto. We would graze on it while weeding the flower beds.

I remember being served chickweed at the restaurant on top of Reunion Tower in downtown Dallas. One of those $70 per person meals, I’m eating my salad and taste something extremely familiar and move the candle to see what it is that I’m eating and it’s chickweed on my fork. The younger it is, the more tender and tasty it is. If you let it get all leggy and go to seed, it’s a bit past prime.

We used it as a poultice for skin rashes or a topical anti-inflammatory for arthritis. And it is absolutely a diuretic when you drink it as a tea. It also reduces coughing and helps with mild colds.

Very very high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. This is one of the things we would recommend for swollen legs, aching joints, and muscle cramps.

And it’s tasty. 🙂

All in that little weed you curse in your flower beds.

Why I look funny when asked for blood pressure medication.

I can come up with four treatments for diabetes. I have more antibiotics and wound dressings than you can shake a stick at. This is a joke because most of my antibiotics come from trees. So I always feel a bit like an idiot when people ask me for high blood pressure medication.

Then I got to thinking. The majority of my medicine, almost everything and absolutely everything that sticks is handed down the line from my grandmother and great grandmother.

They treated symptoms. Somebody is immediately bleeding to death or the baby is coming or there’s a horrific accident or animal attack. Or there had been an attack or bite and it got infected and now they have to treat it. Think triage.

We didn’t know what diabetes was. All we knew it as was a wasting disease. It didn’t matter how much somebody ate, they just wasted away until they died. Always thirsty. We knew if we added these foods to the diet, that the symptoms would lessen. But high blood pressure doesn’t have any symptoms. We can’t diagnose it. To know something is wrong, you must have a blood pressure cuff to see it. You can’t see it in the eyes or skin or smell it on their breath. We had no way to treat polio, and our cold medications while effective, still left you feeling like crap until it passed.

There are no magic bullets in our pharmacopeia. I can tell you poultices for arthritis, and there’s more insect repellents out there than you can imagine. But cancer still killed people. Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence until we got insulin. But we still tried. I remember the stories of my grandmother dancing in the living room about DNA or the polio vaccine. We have watched medicine go from “Hell if I know?” to the wonder that it is today.