Waybread

The dreariness continues. While the forecast foretold of the sun making an appearance around noon, the clouds persisted. Anticipating a bright afternoon, I set about some early morning housework; now that the bathroom renovations were completed, I began the monstrous task of reorganizing my books. Not hundreds, but thousands. The Persian poet Fereydoun Faryad confessed in a Greek documentary film about his life and work to being "greedy for books." When he visited us in 2011, the year before he died of cancer, he brought a suitcase full of books, many of which he gave to me as a gift, beautiful Modern Greek editions of poetry. Well, as it turns out, I too must confess to this same weakness for books. It began long ago in college when I discovered used book stores, many were the days that I bought an old book instead of buying lunch.

So I set about culling titles to be given away, clearing entire shelves, discovering many neglected and misplaced favorites. One of Lida's favorite games when she was a toddler was to play library. This game, however, had nothing in common with the librarian's task of organization or the use of the alphabet. She reveled in the physicality of the books, sometimes using them as bricks to build elaborate forts, sometimes sorting them by color. By three in the afternoon, I had only made a larger mess. Books were scattered in heaps about the basement, looking not entirely different than the leaf piles Lisa had raked up in the back yard.

The Book of Field and Roadside: Open-Country Weeds, Trees, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America by John Eastman surfaced, came to hand, during the morning labors. A book long on lore and ecological interactions, a book of patterns and botanical traditions, a book that aims to "enlarge one's perspectives." This is an open-minded and sage account of our most common plants, many of which are (ironically) designated alien species. "In North America, changes in the plant components proceeded rapidly, mostly as accidental side effects of trade, settlement, wars, territorial acquisition, and discovery. Explorers not only mapped new territory but, in a sense, created it."

Walking the trails at the St Olaf Natural Lands, thinking of Eastman's book, I stopped to photograph some plantain. Is there a more common, more familiar weed? Perhaps Dandelion, but I can think of few others. According to Richard Mabey (in his recent book Weeds), plantain was one of the nine sacred herbs of the Anglo-Saxons. They called it Waybread because it was a broad-leaved plant of the waysides. "Its tough, elastic leaves, growing flush with the ground, are resilient to treading." The section of the 'Lay of the Nine Herbs' pertaining to Waybread contains the following lines: "So withstand now the venom that flies through the air, / And the loathed thing which through the land roves." This is a reference to Waybread's use as a remedy for bee stings and snake bites. Stings can be treated by applying a spit poultice, chewing up some plantain leaf and covering the effected area. Betsy Mead, a friend and herbalist, first alerted me to this remedy when she learned I was studying wasps.

Eastman informs us that "plantain leaves make a tasty cooked or salad green when collected very young." He also relates that "plantains have prominent associations with human feet. The word plantago derives from a Latin word meaning 'sole' or 'footlike"'... Supposedly common plantain followed the Roman legions wherever they set foot. Native Americans, observing the plant's spread, carried the analogy further by naming it Englishman's Foot and White-man's Footprint."

Publicado por scottking scottking, 06 de novembro de 2017, 05:03 AM

Observações

Fotos / Sons

What

Milhã-Amarela (Setaria pumila)

Observador

scottking

Data

Novembro 5, 2017 04:20 PM CST

Descrição

Timothy
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sons

Observador

scottking

Data

Novembro 5, 2017 04:18 PM CST

Descrição

Switchgrass
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota

Etiquetas

Fotos / Sons

Observador

scottking

Data

Novembro 5, 2017 04:12 PM CST

Descrição

Canada Wild Rye
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota

Fotos / Sons

Observador

scottking

Data

Novembro 5, 2017 04:07 PM CST

Descrição

Little Bluestem
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota

Fotos / Sons

What

Trevos (Género Trifolium)

Observador

scottking

Data

Novembro 5, 2017 04:11 PM CST

Descrição

Clover
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota

Fotos / Sons

Observador

scottking

Data

Novembro 5, 2017 04:08 PM CST

Descrição

Rugel's Plantain
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota

Fotos / Sons

Observador

scottking

Data

Novembro 5, 2017 04:05 PM CST

Descrição

Hornet nest in sumac
only about a foot off the ground
St Olaf Natural Lands
Northfield, Minnesota

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