Each morning i wake up i feel blessed because, you know, one morning i will not wake up. Then i walk out onto the back screen porch and there is Robin drinking her coffee while she checks out the goings on in what she refers to as Cinderellaland. A myriad birds are flitting about chirping and singing, chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies and an occasional neighbor cat are cavorting in the garden. I am pretty sure this picture is the one she had in her head when she named it Cinderellaland. Well, she does claim to have the memory of a rhinoceros. Having the honor of being married to Robin for 38 years is the greatest blessing of my life, of course, but not the point of this story.
After she left for work, I made my rounds, watering the seedlings, checking on my little friends i planted yesterday and making a plan for today's work. I always love this third week of April when the garden gets transformed from horizontal to vertical. I pounded in a bunch more stakes in the front garden and planted more tomatoes, anticipating the delicious mater sandwiches in my future. (oh, crap, I recently found out i have a gluten allergy. Oh, well i have plenty of time to find a good gluten free bread recipe. Anyone have one to share?)
I moved on to planting more zucchini and yellow squash, trying to get ahead of the daggone squash vine borers. As i was planting i heard voices on the street. It sounded like they were talking about oregano. I looked up and saw 2 women walking by. The shorter one had long grey hair pulled back in a pony tail, wearing a long white dress. The taller one had salt and pepper hair pulled into a bun, wearing a long dark skirt. Both were carrying nice rustic looking walking sticks. Most people who walk around here carry sticks of some kind. I assume they are protection against the dogs that run loose from time to time.
As i looked at them they noticed me and the shorter one immediately turned around and headed towards the driveway. The taller one waved and asked if they could see the garden. By the time I waved them in the shorter one was already halfway down the drive. We introduced ourselves and the shorter one started asking questions? Is that okra? no it's beets going to seed. Do you grow comfrey? No not yet, but i want to. Well. i have some i can give you she said. Then she asked, did i know comfrey will shrink cancerous tumors? She said she had breast cancer and she cured herself with comfrey.
We walked through the garden, sampling the arugula, their favorite they said. They pointed to some greens and asked what they were. I said they were komatsuna greens. Oh, Japanese, my friend here is Japanese. Then she told me a story about a man she new who has stomach ulcers so bad that the doctor recommended he have his stomach removed. She said she told him if he did that he would be dead in a year and that he would live longer if he did nothing. Then she told him to collect violet flowers and leaves, blend them with water and drink as much of it as he could every day. She said he was a truck driver and she did not see him again for a long time. Then one night around 11:30 he knocked on her door. She opened it and her told her he wanted to thank her for saving his life. He said the violet juice cured his stomach ulcers and he was fine now.
It was the that i realized that this woman was a skilled herbal healer. We continued our tour of the garden, pointing out the newly planted valerian and calendula. She told her friend that calendula was a very potent herb. She expressed her love for clover saying it was a good tonic for the liver. I told her about the herbal medicine class i am taking with Patricia Howell. She asked did she live nearby because she wanted to meet her. I told her i would try to arrange a meeting. We continued our walk as she pointed out plants to her friend, stating their uses, lemon balm, bee balm, yarrow, yellow dock.
I told them about our farmers market and they were really excited because the were both vegan and were looking for a source for fresh organic vegetables. I wrote down the directions to the market along with my contact information. They said they would come to the market tomorrow.
We exchanged names again. The Japanese lady is Tomika. The shorter lady said her name is Dulce. She said she was hispanic and her name means "sweet" in Spanish. I told them they were welcome to visit any time and to feel free to stop by and look around even if i am not there. I really look forward to seeing them both again. Nothing like being able to learn the wisdom of our elders.