My herbal reading did not, of course, begin this week. It started a long, long, long, time ago–actually, before I learned how to read. My mother, when I was little, would repeat a litany of things as she cooked, shopped, doled out supplements, and whenever anyone felt the tiniest bit sick. As I got older, she would refer me to her incredibly old, mammoth books filled with what vitamins and minerals did what, and which herbs or spices had which vitamins and minerals, and which herbs did other things that nobody was quite sure about, but it worked. As I once had to explain to an Aussie who railed at me for taking something a big pharma company hadn’t approved…your basic pills are essentially really concentrated (and often synthetic) versions of what you find in nature. To me, doctors and herbal medicine both play on the same team; one is just little league, and the other is pro-baseball. And, as is usual, little league games tend to be free or near-free, while you sometimes have to fork out exorbitant amounts of cash to get in to a pro game.
Just in case CPS gets retroactively worried, my mom took me to the doctor on a regular basis, despite my dislike for doctors offices (and very firm belief that I would catch something new each time I went), and I got all my vaccines, except for my chicken pox one, because I caught it from some kid in ballet before I could get the vaccine. That was back when they were still working on developing the vaccine, too, if memory serves.
Anyway, my favorite markets have lots of herbs and spices, and I have been using them quite liberally in our foods, because I’m from California, and I like my food to have tastes (unlike my aunt [not one of the ones currently in Ireland], who treats Kraft Mac and Cheese like a gourmet dish). So far, no one has objected more than pointing out that some stuff is really garlicky, but we all like garlic, so that has not been an issue at all. What has been a bit of an issue is that, well, herbs come in big bunches, and we can’t use them quickly enough.
Here enters my mother (figuratively) and my childhood, where drying food was a thing you learned, and which was perfectly acceptable, along with canning, freezing, and any other sort of preservative method, short of salt barrels (come on, we lived in the country! What else do you do with all the fruit and stuff that’s falling off the trees or vines or whatever?). Thus, I’ve been hanging herbs all over our kitchen, so they can dry properly. My flatmates don’t seem to mind, except Cait walked in the other day and went
“It looks like a witch lives here. You’re a witch, aren’t you? Just wait till I tell my mom my flatmate’s a witch.”
Just to be clear, I am not. I just sometimes fit better in 1516 or 1816 than in 2016.
This became a joke for quite a while, and by the time my parents returned, everyone had forgotten it. Then, last night, I came home to find a very sick Cait. She had a full cold, an earache, and was wheezing like an old cat. I went in to the kitchen, began pinching herbs, added some dried nettle, and threw it all in my café press, poured in some hot water, and let it steep. I made Cait drink it (although, after I finally convinced her to try it, she decided she liked the taste), told her to sleep, and curled up on my own.
Fast forward to this morning, when I was cooking breakfast. Cait came in, still a little sniffly, but announcing that she felt much better. She then asked for more tea, which I made. She looked at it for a moment, then looked up at me.
“So…you’re a good witch?”