Winter has been creeping in slowly, the nights colder and the sun slower to rise up over the mountains in the mornings. However, our snow has held off, other than a few skiffs that quickly melted. We have been trying to take advantage of the delay by foraging for late bog cranberries and collecting cottonwood seeds.
I had to keep an eye on Howie during my berry picking, since the bog cranberries are harder to get to he was tempted to just help himself to my bucket!
I have always heard about a way to make the ” balm of gilead” (mentioned in the Bible) from the seeds of the cottonwood tree (or any tree in the poplar family) and have wanted to try it. It is supposed to be excellent for cuts and scrapes, as well as sore throats and coughs. I love finding local herbs and plants that have medicinal benefits, it is quickly becoming a lost art. So, Joe and I headed out a few days ago to collect the buds, we have a small clump of cottonwood trees on the north bank of the lake. When picking the buds, it is better to wait until they freeze, because the resin is very sticky. We probably should have waited another couple weeks, we did get a little sticky, not too bad though. We used the acidity from some high bush cranberries to help get it off.
The beavers have been busy preparing for winter as well, they had already taken down a few of the trees and were busy working on another! I am always so amazed at their work! How they get some of those trees and branches through the tundra to the lake puzzles me!
Anyway, I simmered the buds with coconut oil on the wood stove for about 24 hour or so, strained it with cheesecloth and then poured it into a jar and let it solidify. (You can use other types of oil, but i prefer coconut oil for using on the skin) I can’t wait to test it out! I am hoping to also use it on Howie’s feet this winter. (He is always cutting them up on the ice and hates wearing booties) I will let you know how it turns out!
Its amazing how quickly we adapt to becoming resourceful when supplies aren’t readily available. I find myself thinking more and more about how to harvest and preserve the natural resources around us. I am so thankful for knowledge passed down to me from my parents on how to live from the land. There is still so much I don’t know, but life is a schoolhouse and every day a chance to learn something new.