It’s officially Spring. Though it was official according to the calendar about a month ago, Nature has now spoken in southeastern Utah. Here are three plants that signal spring to me:
The first coltsfoot flowers are up – bright yellow sunshine that can be turned into a beautiful tincture.
Coltsfoot Flower Tincture
Gather fresh flowers, enough to fill whatever size jar you are using. Cut or tear them up into small pieces. Include the furry, scaly stems. Fill a clean, wide-mouthed jar with the flowers almost to the top. Pour 100 proof vodka or 80 proof
brandy over the flowers. Fill to the very top of the jar and then cap securely. Label the jar.
When it’s ready, in six weeks or more, pour off the liquid. Squeeze out the flowers and compost them.
This yellow coltsfoot tincture can now be used in hot water, or in a good expectorant herbal infusion, decoction, or syrup such as can be made with flowering hyssop, mullein leaves, or white pine needles, for a few examples, to make an excellent remedy even more effective to help ease a cough, especially a dry one.
The purple periwinkle flowers with tell-tale, square-tipped petals, are springing up everywhere. Various species of this plant are used in cancer treatments, both as chemotherapy and as herbal medicine, but I mostly just enjoy nibbling the flowers.
Finally, the nettles are popping up through the brown leaves that are thickly covering them. I will rake them off, but the nettles are unimpressed with their weight. They are so tough and resilient! And guess what? They impart these qualities to us, every time we eat or drink them, or even simply hang out with them, perhaps consciously exchanging breath: you breath out, they breathe in. They exhale, you inhale. That simple practice can gradually take you deep into a relationship with the plants you use for food and medicine.
The same spirit animates us all and plants have much to offer when we take the time to listen to them. And nettles, well cooked in water and seasoned with butter and salt, are so delicious! If you don’t have your own to pick, get them at your local Farmer’s Market. You’ll be glad you did!
At Spring Equinox, in the east of the wheel, the sun crosses the celestial equator moving north. The day and night are in perfect equipoise: All over the world on that day, they are of equal length. What was conceived in the darkness of winter is now born? Newborn life is fragile and vulnerable, yet pulses with the vital power of the life force within. The first sprouts are peeking up out of the earth.
Spring Equinox is the peak of the power of birthing creativity into form — an opportunity to increase your energy and outward thrust so that you birth your dreams into the material world.
After today, the days will be longer than the nights.
Colors: Lilac, green, pink, pale yellow, and sky blue
Smudge herbs: Lavender flowers, sweet grass, sweet white clover
Herbs for tea: Blue-violet leaves, oat tops, nettle leaves with spearmint, red clover blossoms
Meditation: Feed your ageless soul by meditating on your own rebirth tonight.
Personal growth question: How am I birthing what I conceived at Winter Solstice? What am I rebirthing in myself and in my life?
American pennyroyal was the first plant I ever heard talk back to me. She said she prefers ~Royal Penny~ and who am I to argue? (She also prefers “devastatingly attractive” to “so cute”.) Scotland was the first place where I heard a plant talk sarcastically – classic Scottish humor. I was trying to identify a weedy plant in the driveway, idly muttering, ‘I wonder who you are,’ and heard, plain as day, “Foxglove, I’m foxglove,” and I said, “I know foxglove, you’re not foxglove,” thinking of the garden beauties I was familiar with at home and she said, with substantial attitude, “Fine. I’m not foxglove, fine.” Guess who was right?
Ireland though, won me over with the sheer, sometimes overwhelming Spirit that shines out of every nook and cranny of the land. The pussy willows began to flower, the purple violets came out, and the dandelions began flowering. And I fell in love with primrose flowers (Primula vulgaris). The magic was hard to miss, the veils between this world and all the others were very thin. I must go back when Ireland is in full bloom, though it was a pleasure to watch the land turn that famous green over the course of the month since I arrived early in March, when it was still cold, brown, and sometimes snowing, and left at the end of the month when everything was springing to life!
One of my favorite things was that there are hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of marked walking trails everywhere. When the trails go through farmers’ lands they simply request that walkers leave open gates open and closed gates closed. In County Clare, the roads were windy and small and the vistas were gorgeous as were the lochs/lakes.
Down south on the Sheepshead Peninsula, all my walks led to the sea. So beautiful.
Perhaps most magical of all were the stone circles one encountered in so many places, especially in west Cork.
I felt thrills up and down my spine visiting these sacred places, and loved meeting local folks; artists, herbalists, musicians, and hearing music, and of course, drinking Guinness and other local brews in the pubs. I am appreciating my blessings very much and next up is Greece! I’ll keep you posted!