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April 2013

Its early April as I write this but you would hardly know it. This morning I woke to snow showers and there is still a mound of muddy snow piled at the end of the driveway. Despite the cold I went foraging yesterday, the day after the first brave crocuses opened their faces to the sun.
I have read that this time of year was the “starving time” for northern cultures because there is so little greenery available. But I was pleased to find an embarrassment of riches on my hike into the forest. All around the property there are beds of edible Day Lilies  with their potato like roots that can be boiled, sautéed or eaten raw. The pale green new shoots are perfect in salads or as a pot herb.
There are River Birch trees and Maples, useful for their sap and the River Birch twigs make a fabulous tea especially when added to Sassafras roots which I also have around the house  (I only make birch and sassafras beer once a year because overuse can be dangerous).
White Pine needles and twigs are available all winter to make vitamin C rich teas and there is a Grandmother Cedar down the road in a neighbor’s yard  which the Algonquin consider a cure-all for every affliction. Deeper into the woods, down by the stream, the skunk cabbage is poking up its red capped head. The roots are available now to tincture for asthma, but it will be a few weeks before the young leaves appear. They are actually quite delicious if you boil twice (and pour off the first water) and add butter, salt and pepper. I am still waiting for the first nettles to appear, so delicious when cooked as a green or sautéed with eggs and wild ramp leaves.
Many of us are faced with “food insecurity” these days. It isn’t supposed to be that way, Great Nature is always trying to feed us, clothe us, and give us medicine. If we only have the eyes to see it!


I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights,
the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun,
and my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam that holds your house,
the board of your table, the bed on which you lie,
and the timber that builds your boat.
I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead,
the wood of your cradle, and the shell of your coffin.
I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty.
Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: Harm me not.

(traditional, Portuguese)

That’s what’s happening up here on the mountain. In the wider world outside there has been much rejoicing over the new Pope Francis. I am a huge fan of Saint Francis, “Il Poverello” (the little poor one) who spoke to the birds and the wolves and understood that the water, fire, sun and moon were sacred. One can only hope that the new Francis will follow suit, leading his billion or so strong flock in a renewed love of the Earth and Her creatures. But the status of women as second class citizens in the church continues and the history of abuse of children still lingers as a foul stench. Sadly, I doubt that the old white men of the curia will do much to even the playing field for women and children.

But Spring is definitely here, with hope and sap rising! May your Spring be joyful and fulfilled!

Below you will find this Moonth’s gleanings from the media and an assortment of workshops where I will be speaking.

    April 7, 2013 in Easthampton, MA
    September, 2013
    Come to lovely New England in the fall and learn Celtic tree magic and lore, Gaelic chants and prayers
  • HERBAL HEALING CLASS With Ellen Evert Hopman M.Ed. ~ Registered Herbalist AHG
    October 12, 2013 – April, 2014, two Saturdays a month, 1-5 PM near Amherst, MA
    COST: $1,000.00 (includes a $100.00 non-refundable Xeroxing fee) A six month intensive that covers Western herbal Materia Medica, formula making, case taking, Chinese Five Element Theory, Homeopathic First Aid, Flower Essence Counseling, plant identification, ethno botany, and hands on herbal techniques such as poultices, tinctures, salves etc. An herb walk outdoors, slide shows of plants and hands on preparations are included.
    Over 400 pages of handouts are included with the course. A certificate of completion is offered at the end.

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  • Gaeltacht Gathering Tour 2013
    20 Oct – 2 Nov 2013
    Chance of a Lifetime! Visit Ireland’s Irish speaking communities in the company of other Irish speakers and learners from North America
    Cost: $1700 (excluding flight)
    Deposit Deadline: 17 March 2013

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