It’s really been a fantastically amazing spring in the desert. She has graced us with some of the coolest, oddest, wettest days of May. All of us here are soaking it up. Being so full of life, there is so much to catch up on here. So I’m gonna just sorta spill it all out, unorganized like since that seems to be my style lately.
After one of the crazy rains in April, the Earth was alive with that great smell of desert rain. It is something only understood by those who have actually stood on the hot red dirt and felt the aroma weaving its way in through your bones. Some liken it to earthen clay as it is being spun when making pottery. But it is so much more than this. This beautiful smell comes from the fragrant resinous leaves of the creosote bush. She calls us out to her with this scent, not so subtly reminding us she is here. To be interacted with. To exchange medicine with.
Many books, entire blogs, journals, and lifetimes could be devoted to the wonder of this unassuming green shrub that peppers the desert landscape. Almost unnoticed by sight, after a rain, there is no missing her. We took the girls out hiking one early morning to grab some of this delicious plant to bring her home and make medicine. I’m sure I’ll get around to telling you all about her soon, she is a widely used plant in our home, one Sevi knows well. She was excited to come along with her basket to gather with us.
Collecting wild-crafted herbs is a truly spiritual experience. To see life’s medicine greeting you as walk onto a rocky hillside is the most welcome I have ever felt. Once your eyes are open to the details, you see abundance everywhere, even in the brownscapes of these dusty hills. I’m always surprised at how at ease my girls are in these moments. Before we go I always get a little edgy, it’s hot and they are small and carrying one or both of them back is not an uncommon event on a desert hike. But when we go for medicine gathering, it never happens. They are intrigued and engaged.
When I come into a wildspace for gathering, I love to sit on the earth and feel her beneath me for a while. Feel the heat on the dirt, the pebbles and tiny bits of cactus spine reminding me of my place. I like to notice the hills and dips and where the rocks are more red here and the brush seems more green there. I like to see where the birds are hiding and the lizards are bathing in the sun. I let the desert welcome me with all of her details, and invite her to tell me where the best medicine is. Once we have agreed upon a plant or two, I sing my gratitude song, and offer her something of myself (some of my prepared offering or just a hair from my head). It is an exchange she knows well. Something that can be lost on our rush to protect every bit of wild. The plants thrive when they are touched and trimmed and gathered and loved. I can feel the breath and beat of every bit of creosote I have ever gathered. She asks that we use her, not just admire her for scent.
As I carefully collect each branch and flower, I tell her what I am going to make with her medicine. How it will heal us and our family and friends. We have a nice chat and sometimes she tells me things I didn’t know. Sometimes she tells me things I needed to know but didn’t want to hear. Occasionally, when I am telling her who the medicine is for, she offers me new insights into how I can use her. It is like bouncing new ideas off of an old friend. And I leave the place, my bucket filled up, with the knowing she will be here to welcome me when I return, to exchange our medicine once again.