Saturday, 23 May 2009

About as good as we can hope for

This is what makes me proud to be in England. We have made it to a field.

And not just any old field. A field at the back of a windmill turned into a pub. How good is this type of field? Very good indeed.

Today in this field we're on a walk-and-talk with a medicinal herbalist.

I'll pause there for you to conjure with wisdoms of yore, passed down in ancient texts through the ages to treat all our imbalances of melancholies, cholers, sanguinities and vapours. Look for the strange old man with grizzled grey hair to his knees, bent double over an elder wood stick, wearing nothing but a loincloth and felted purse into which he pushes a half dozen nettle leaves, three dandelion roots, some red clover and a bunch of ivy. All will be made into tinctures for our cures.

OK, our guide for the morning is Brian. He wears Rohan trousers. It is quite disappointing. The sort you can unzip at the knees to air your calves. He has a sensible haircut. And he runs a medicinal herbal business. He can do coughs, bruises and strains. He says if you have any type of strange growth, book into a hospital. Now please walk this way, and it is mostly on hard paths, so no worries about nettles.

As we set off, I am a bit worried about Shark. She is a bit bolshy, what with the culture shock, being here in England with the sun actually shining. But along she comes, and listens politely at the first stop to Brian's extensive talk about how red clover is useful for the menopause. Not once does she shout WHAT'S THE MENOPAUSE? and for this we can strew silver birch.

Next we have oak, which is astringent, so Brian says use it for nasal polyps. I have never heard of nasal polyps. Neither has Shark. Perhaps we have some and don't know. Fortunately, Shark is concentrating on ants, so we don't have to answer questions about polyps, whether we have them, and in which areas of the bodies they can be found.

The stinging nettles are good. Brian says they are useful for tonics and soups. Shark does not push Squirrel and Tiger into them once. I'm brave now, and share the knowledge that spring hawthorn leaves are edible, and when we are poor, we can pick them, and put them in our sandwiches. Shark does not scream UUUGRHHHH once. Not at all. Neither does she scream or make any noise whatsoever at the folklore tale that holly sprigs frighten off house goblins who would otherwise hide under your bed at night. Or that the devil wees in brambles after Michaelmas, so don't eat them then, because you will be drinking devil's piss.

And on we go. Brian is a fountain of knowledge. Elder is useful for fevers, colds and coughs, and rosehips for syrups and dog bites. Plantain will be fine for your mucus membrane; horse chestnut for thread veins, and ivy you can strew in the path of a drunk and they'll come to their senses. Lime is good for high blood pressure. I don't need that today. Such a relaxing and gentle walk.

Better still, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger are utterly lovely. Squirrel asks Brian about daisies and Shark asks charming and erudite questions about apple trees and the benefits of apple acid. Brian answers carefully and thoughtfully and adds that apple juice is delicious whatever way you try it.

Then Shark turns to a small assembled crowd and adds how how easy it is to try herbal medicines at home because two years ago, or it could be three, mama drank all the sloe gin donated by the neighbour and pushed apple slices up her nose so they look like tusks.

I shall ask Brian whether that is a technique good for my menopausal nasal polyps.


sharon said...

Maybe a small gag for Shark next time if the lecture about not sharing Mama's darkest secrets with people who are actually present as opposed to living in the computer. Obviously WE have all done similarly entertaining things and completely understand the reason/need for such displays.

Nice to hear that the fields of England still have the ability to calm your soul even if not much else about the country does these days!

The Gossamer Woman said...

I would have liked to have seen you with apple slices up your nose. Did it hurt much? I bet nobody wanted to eat them after that. Can you give us a little hint as to what you look like without apple slices up your nose?

Grit said...

hi sharon & irene! this merely shows how resourceful mothers must be when distracting small children, doesn't it. orange segments are rubbish. don't try them. there is no grip.

irene, i really tried hard to take a photograph of myself balancing a platypus on my nose. i will continue.

Anonymous said...

That sounds like advanced herbalism to me - I bet Brian was very impressed!