Friday, July 4, 2008

Hobbledehoy Days


It's the Fourth of July. It's officially summer time. At least it would be if it would stop raining. The yard was sporting a three week growth before I spent the day chasing hurly burly Hobbits through the yard with the lawnmower. In late afternoon, the annual erecting of the tent will arise with all the pomp and ceremony accorded to such an occasion. The adults are approaching it with all the trepidation that the weather accords to such an occasion. And, per usual, rain stalks the annual local fireworks display. I think in seven years, we've only not been drenched once. You'd think it was Louisiana. Except the mosquitoes there are bigger. State bird, you know.

Mrs. Elton's prim and disdainful voice echoes to me. "Are we to sit down with hobbledehoys?" Yeah. That would be us. Not much standing on ceremony and elegance around here. Just straightforward, what you see is what you get. I'm barefoot in the kitchen (though the prospects of pregnancy are fading fast, but I'm not complaining) most days. The Hobbits, of course, being Hobbits, shun footwear at the soonest possible temperature in the season and don't resume without duress until the absolute brink of frostbite.

It's a hobbledehoy summer for us. Lots of outside and doing fun things. While Tool Guy was away from home, the four of us packed off for a day at a nearby amusement/water park. It was small and intimate enough--and crowded with enough of the adults in our "village"--for me to cut the apron strings and let Dog and Bug run loose. A first for them. They hardly knew how to contain themselves. About once an hour, Princess and I would suspend whatever we were pursuing at that moment (usually another trip on the roller coaster or another wet and wild spin down the oh-so-descriptive "Toilet Bowl") and go do a head count. I think that it was about three or four hours before I actually saw Bug, but there were adults who were able to give me Bug "sightings" and describe how relentlessly he and Dog were pursuing a good time. Something about being an unencumbered, uninhibited child to be able to have such unalloyed fun. We got there at 10:00 am and I don't think I was able to convince anyone to eat anything until 3:00 in the afternoon. We didn't leave the park until the last vestige of enjoyment could be wrung from the opportunity and they couldn't stop talking about it for three days.

Lots of hobbledehoy goings on. Bee stings. Bug bites. Dog insists that he knows what poison ivy looks like, yet somehow manages to overlook it when he's beating the bushes...literally...and exploring. Even Princess picks up the odd scrape and rug rash. Despite her regal dignity, she careens across the floor of the activity room at church with a scooter and no shoes, yodeling to make way for "The Magnificent Princess." So much for decorum.

I have the magic potion. Plantain. Early in our Breatharian days, I had a friend tell me about her herbal stuff. She told me that plantain is a must in any medicine cabinet. She even claimed to have healed a gangrenous chicken wing using it. It strains credulity, but she swears it's true. Plantain is one of those "weeds" that is available in most places just for the picking. Another herbalist told me that it used to be called "settler's hoof," since the seeds for it were supposedly brought over with the settlers and favors high traffic areas. I have noticed that it has gradually proliferated through the yard in just such a pattern...the high trafficked areas.

Plantain Oil

Plantain leaves
Olive oil
Glass jar
A few drops of rosemary essential oil
A tincture of time

Herbals like this are relatively easy. I've begun sending Dog into the yard to collect the plantain leaves for me. Just a bowl and a directive not to stop until it is full. I figured that if he was the young jackanapes who couldn't remember to steer clear of suspicious foliage, then he could assist in replenishing the store of plantain that he depleted. After he brings in as much as he possibly can motivate himself to gather, I spread them out in the shade in shallow layers in baskets or on drying racks. An herbalist suggested letting them wilt a bit before processing to reduce excess moisture. After a few hours of wilting, collect the leaves and jam them into a glass jar, packing the jar as full as possible or using all of the leaves available, whichever comes first. Then cover the leaves with oil...as much as the leaves will absorb and then a little more so that the leaves are submerged. (A vacuum sealer helps to remove air bubbles and the oil to permeate the leaves.) Cover and let sit for about six weeks. Strain out the leaves. Add a few drops of rosemary essential oil as a preservative. I store surplus oil in the refrigerator and keep what I need handy in the medicine cabinet.

I understand that this oil can be used to make a salve with beeswax, but I haven't ventured that far yet. Maybe later on this year. Plantain is good for cuts, scrapes, rashes of all kinds and helps clear up topical infections.

There's something to be said for having herbal magic that only needs reach out the back door to acquire. Especially when one has hobbledehoy Hobbits at home.

7 comments:

Just Jen said...

Hobbles and barefeet...LOL
barefoot as long as possibly can here too! Unfortunately winter will it show itself and snow and barefeet don't go well together...lol

Alyss said...

Your post reminded me to figure out what plantain actually looks like and find out where it grows around here. A couple quick google searches, referencing a couple herb books and a walk out the door... it's everywhere! :) I haven't found any that looks as nice as your leaves yet, though. Here in Oregon it tends to grow on gravel driveways and in well trod paths.. the grass, clover, dandilions and everything else just out competes it in prime lawn spots. It's a serious jungle out here.
Thanks for another wonderful inspirational post. You rock :)

Loztnausten said...

::nodding to Jen:: I hate shoes myself, even though I find I'm forced to wear them these days. I can remember the feeling of absolute freedom when, as a child, we could shed our shoes in the spring. And the soft springy feel of the grass on tender feet. Ahhh....

Alyss, I'm glad that it motivated you to find it in your locale. The leaves don't have to be pretty, though...it'll still do the job. I suspect that the people in your neck of the woods aren't sorry that the plantain is crowded out by grass, since it is considered an invasive "weed." But, if you can forage enough to cram into a pint jar and cover with oil, you'll have enough to get you through the next year's "boo-boo" needs. ;)

Stacy said...

Thanks so much for this post. My daughter and I spent part of the afternoon looking for those leaves in our lawn. She really enjoyed it especially when I told her we were making "medicine." Thanks for the idea and I hope that you post more about making herbal tinctures and such! We are just learning here. I thoroughly enjoy all of your posts!

Loztnausten said...

Wonderful, Stacy! I'm glad to have inspired you and your daughter! I'll definitely be sharing as I learn...I'm just beginning to dabble my toes, but I'm enjoying it immensely.

Rene said...

I had my daughter collecting plantain for me this summer too! Have you read Earthly Bodies, Heavenly Hair by Dina Falconi? It has a lot of recipes for salves using plantain & other infused oils. I've found it quite helpful.

I hope you are well.

Loztnausten said...

I haven't read it yet, but thanks so much for mentioning it! I'm always on the look out for more resources. Thanks for the kind words and for visiting!