Down by the river, the mud is skimmed with ice — crisp spectral lace that forms, transforms and disappears in the midday sun. We’ve had a few hard frosts in the past week, yet the green things on the riverbank keep on growing. There’s Yellowdock, Watercress, Violets (just a few), Sweet Clover, Horsetail, Landcress and even a few vibrant Lobelias. These reliable green patches keep me sane and happy til the Spring explosion many months from now. Snow is threatening on the horizon but I’ll believe it when I see it. Rhiannon has a little sign outside the kitchen door that says, “Let it snow!” so that Mama Nature will know we’re good and ready.
Yesterday Loba and I tore down a great big beaver dam that was flooding the road. I’d really like to have kept the dam, but the road was underwater and there was no other way around it. Hopefully they’ll take the hint and move a little downriver, where they can raise the water level all they like, at least until Spring rains come along and break down the dam with the floods.
If you’ve never closely examined or broken down a dam, you won’t know just how clever these creatures are. They should have honorary engineering degrees, their handiwork is made of mud, rocks, trees, leaves and whatever else is handy. And boy is it tough. It’s carefully woven, twined and wrapped together to make taking it apart one giant pain the butt. Or in this case, a pain in the neck, hands, back and butt. As soon as we got back to the cabin, we slathered our hands and banged bits with Comfrey and Larrea, which greatly reduced the bruising, swelling and soreness. It also stopped the bleeding on my poor lacerated fingers. And after working in cold water for several hours, all our muscles and joints with a bit stiff and cold.
Unsurprisingly, today I had neck muscle spasms from yesterday’s not so wise maneuvers with overly large logs. Rather than being pissed about the pain I was excited to take this moment to re-prove my favorite liniment for dislocated discs and other inflamed, screaming neck pains. Rose petals and Wild Cherry bark. This may seem a bit strange at first, but really makes perfect sense when you think about the Rose family anti-inflammatory and sedative properties. They stop spasms, reduce heat locally, increase circulation and promote healing. Very nice, and two hours later, my neck feels better than it has in a while. It seems as if the liniment has resolved some other issues that were festering in there, since I can now turn my head without causing a stabbing headache. Too bad it took an injury to get my attention enough to treat myself.
Rose and Cherry are best used where there’s pain, heat and local irritation. They’re cooling and soothing, great for acute situations but less so for chronic issues that have gotten colder and stiffer. Now that the sharp pains have passed, I’d probably be wise to use a more warming oil blend of Ginger, Rose, Cottonwood and Sage to keep the neck loose and healing. And maybe some Vervain and Peony Root internally for added anti-spasmodic, nervine and potentially pain relieving effects.
I’ve primarily used this simple formula specifically for neck problems, but I think it will also be effective for similar situations in other parts of the body.
Wild Rose & Chokecherry Liniment
1 part Rose petal tincture (Wild or other fragrant species)
1 part Chokecherry bark tincture
Combine, and apply liberally to affected area. That was easy, eh? You could also macerate equal parts of both plants in rubbing alcohol for a cheaper but stinkier solution. I like a fresh plant tincture of the Roses but strong dried petals will work too. Combine with whole Rose hips for even greater effect.