Last night was cool enough to warrant two quilts, a delicious weight over my body in the morning. This afternoon was hot enough to warrant a dip in the river, though by the time we got there it was already late afternoon, and shadows stretched long over the bright water. The water was vigorously cold, but tolerable and delightful all the same. We swam for just a little while, then moved to the last spot of sunshine on the shore, soaking up the warmth.
We were surrounded by the herb boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) in full bloom, and so we gathered a full bouquet of the spreading clusters of creamy white flowers. I tinctured it this evening. It will be ready in time for whatever flu-like illnesses plague us this Winter–according to Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians it “stimulates immune response, helps reduce fevers and eliminates excess respiratory congestion.” Author Patricia Kyritsi Howell writes that boneset was once perhaps the most commonly used herb in the eastern United States. I am particularly pleased to add this herb to my little apothecary.
I have yet to harvest elderberries, although it is definitely time. They droop dark and lush from the shrubs. When cooked with honey they will make a thick purple syrup that is wonderful for coughs in particular, and whatever ails you in general. Peaches are still coming in. And there’s goldenrod and mint to dry for tea this Winter.
It can be overwhelming, all this harvesting work, but nothing gives me such joy as making medicines. Peach preserves are sublime, but a half-gallon jar of boneset tincture has a different kind of magic to it. One is sweet, and the other healing. I think I’m drawn to the healing, though let me assure you, I have my sweet tooth, too.