As a person with a bit of an erratic, mercurial, and spacey streak, I seek earth medicine---the kind that steadies and supports, connects, simplifies, and soothes.
Earth medicine helps me weather the insanity of our times, find replenishment, and keep swimming.
Some days it’s just a bit of fresh air and offering of thanks with my meal. If I’ve hit a stride of sorts, I may be awash in a cornucopia of tea and sunshine, bare foot in the garden popping handfuls of berries.
Early spring, when the winds billow, rains rattle, and I can’t decide whether to bring a sweater, I really rely on root medicine to anchor and buffer me through this sometimes abrasive seasonal transition.
The frenzy of the growing season leaves me little time to put away my laundry, let alone deep clean. A mother pregnant with the promise of green days ahead, I’m hustling to prepare the nest for my infant projects. These days I’ve been dutifully cleaning out the fridge, scouring the pantry, and spelunking in the freezer, working on moving through the stashes of frozen berries and sprouted potatoes. This practice of cleaning and gleaning feels grounding in its own right, a checking in of sorts with the hearth. Are things in order and systems strong enough to flex with whatever surprises blow through?
As I anticipate eating plates of buttery nettles and tart knotweed shoot salads, I’m busy drumming up enticing ways to prepare the last of my stored roots. When the fresh foods begin appearing, I want my arms to be empty and my pantry hungry. I want to be able to receive the new gifts with joy and eagerness, without the bogginess of ‘where will I fit that?’
More earth medicine waits tucked in the back of the fridge---crisp, fall-dug roots still caked with soil. After a good scrub, I pan fried the sliced burdock, sunchokes, and carrots with onions and garlic in clarified butter. Then, swimming in venison broth, I seasoned them with a dollop of carrot top homemade bouillon, a cup of tomato purée, and some hot pepper, letting them simmer covered until soft. Before I took the pot off the heat, I tossed in some frozen lamb’s quarters for extra vibrancy. The stew is thick, satisfying, and warming on a day like today, when slushy snow islands still cling solemnly to the garden.
Like firewood that warms us thrice---cutting, stacking, burning---root medicine has a similar reverb effect. First we dig, reach into the soil, wrestle with lodged stones, and greet night crawlers. We meet our neighbors, our ancestors, and the life force flowing through each creature. We say thank you for a life taken and the grace of ours. Then we process---scrubbing, scraping, slicing---embodied being-with the medicine, the external sensual relationship between the plant’s body and ours. And then cooking, quiet secrets exchanged between a cook and her muse, the listening, the conversation and all the magic of fire + water +earth +air each conspiring together for alchemical results. These are all the workings of earth medicine.
Once mingling with my body the stew roots mirror the energy I am working to manifest in my nest----smooth, well-timed systems and tidiness for overall ease. Burdock gently nudges my digestion, and along with sunchokes, feeds my healthy gut flora. Rich in fiber and fortifying minerals, this stew will be sure to scrub my inner most nooks and fill the darkest reservoir of my bones. The sweetness of the broth wraps me up in an unrelenting wholesomeness that keeps me solid when the trail is mushy and path pot holed.
Some of the last and also earliest fresh foods I munch on are roots. What a way to begin and end the growing season with foods matured in earth’s soil womb. When a seed germinates, before the little one sends up a sprout, the root wanders down. Plants are wise to make a strong connection with the earth before expanding upwards. A seed’s wisdom helps me know how to prepare for my own coming growth spurt---with a well-tended home base and plenty of nourishing roots.
Carly lives and eats from a hilltop in Cummington, Massachsuetts and part time in Schenectady, NY.