In the Burned Forest: A Walk Through the Mist
In the more lightly burned areas of the forests just above us in the White Mountains of Arizona, the Fireweed is blooming in colorful profusion between the blackened spikes of destroyed trees. This beautiful member of the Onagraceae family is also one of my favorite herbs, being especially talented at reducing inflammation, astringing lax tissue, and encouraging healing, especially in the gut. This makes it a rather ideal addition to gut healing infusions, especially if a food intolerance or other trigger has been recently removed.
Rhiannon declared this bit of mountainside a piece of her personal heaven, and danced through the mist and ferns for a while before settling into harvesting just ripening Raspberries. She particularly enjoys the not quite red fruits, relishing their tartness, and often dissecting them into little jewel shaped fragments before eating them up.
There’s something haunting about the the spectral mists that can shift and swirl through the mountains during monsoon season in the Southwest. I could stand in the midst of the young Aspens and stare into the distance for hours, listening to small animals move amongst the underbrush and ravens obscured in the mist call from just beyond the veil.
Fungi of many sorts were just beginning to fruit from dead wood, and I look forward to returning soon in search of my favorite edible and medicinal mushrooms.
Oshá, Ligusticum porteri, was blooming at the edge of the Aspen stands, their fern like leaves drooping under the weight of a recent rain. Since I still have plenty of Oshá from previous harvests, and none of the patches I found were very large, I left them to continue to grow and spread on the mountainside.
Several times we spotted deer in the forest, usually nibbling specifically on burned Ponderosa twigs… perhaps they enjoy the smoky flavor?!
At the edge of a large meadow, hedges of Elders grew, and a few had already (for this elevation) burst into bloom, their creamy umbels tossing back and forth in every small breeze. As much as I love working with herbs for healing purposes, I am often reminded on these forays of how the deeper medicine is actually in spending time with the plants, in restoring connection between myself and the land, and in simply being aware of the beauty, complexity, and power of place. No tincture can replace that, and no harvest can achieve it without attention, presence, and a fierce love for the wild ways of the plants.