Burdock & Rose

wildly-crafted plant tales from herbalist, forager & author lisa rose

Category: kids

Wild Summer Refreshments: Sumac “Lemonade”

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In the middle of a hot and steamy July, there’s nothing like a tall glass of refreshing lemonade. But here in the Midwest, lemons aren’t local… but guess what? You can make that pitcher of lemonade – or a copycat “lemonade” without the lemons while using the staghorn sumac berries instead!

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Staghorn sumac, Rhus typhina

“What,” you say? Lemonade without lemons??? Well, ok, so sumac “lemonade” would more appropriately be called a tea. But that’s besides the point… Infused in cold water overnight, the sumac berries of Rhus glabra and Rhus typhina make a great-tasting, refreshing sour and citrus-like beverage that is delicious on its own or simply sweetened with honey and garnished with lavender for an extra herbal flavor.

Common in hedgerows and at the edges of the field are the staghorn and smooth sumac (Rhus typhina and Rhus glabra respectively). Both sumacs are common native shrubs whose flower clusters ripen into deep red fruit clusters toward the end of July and into early September. For more tips on identifying sumac, get a copy of my book, Midwest Foraging to take with you into the fields! 

The berries – or drupes in botanical language – taste sour like lemonade. Use hand pruners to gather the drupes into a bucket, choosing the clusters that are most bright in color and most uniformly red. In the kitchen, separate the red and sour drupes from the stems – be warned there may be a scattering of small bugs as you sort the plants.

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To prepare: Pack the drupes into a jar and cover them with cold water. Let them soak for a day or so in the fridge. Strain the liquid into a serving pitcher and voila – a delicious pink lemonade! Serve cold over ice and garnish with sprigs of lavender.

To see my TV segment on Staghorn Sumac Lemonade and easy tips for foraging with kids, visit WZZM13 Online: Staghorn Sumac.

Summer Staycations: Foraging with Kids

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Collecting sumac drupes for sumac lemonade

There’s no better place on earth in summer than #PureMichigan. Summer vacation is a time to load the car and head to the lakeshore – bikes tied to the back and sandals in tow. The great thing about our Great Lakes state is that we are never more than 20 minutes from an outdoor adventure that can rival any escape to greater terrain up north or out west.

As part of your outdoor escape, get the kids, neighbor’s kids, and even dog outdoors to plan an foraging expedition to learn wild edibles. From bogs to dune habitats at the lakeshore, this is a great chance to expose children to parts of Michigan they’ve never experienced before AND teach them new outdoor skills.

Short on time and want an even lower cost excursion? Plan this endeavor to take place in your own backyard! There are many wild edibles to discover right outside your doorstep.

To begin to learn and identify wild edibles with the children:

Pick a place to explore: Let the kids select the plants around them to learn, sometimes the most adventures can actually happen right outside the back door in the yard!

Safety: Remind the explorers to never pick nor eat a plant until they can properly ID the plant.

Remind the children of the rules of foraging: Ask permission if it is private property you are exploring and respect the rules of any parks area.

Respect plant sustainability: Teach the children that we are stewards of the land and can help plants grow and propagate, especially native plants and never harvest plants that are on the threatened or endangered list.

Pack a foraging kit: Include a notebook, colored pencils, a camera and perhaps a snack, sunscreen and bug repellant (need an herbal recipe? check out my blog here).

Find the right expertise: Head to the library and select a few good field guides and consider picking up a copy of Midwest Foraging at your local bookstore.

Let this journey be kid-led. Let them explore the outdoors, make a plant journal and even let them get really dirty. Create a cool certificate or bad for those kids completing the adventure and celebrate them for trying something new. It’s low-cost, high-yield activity that offers lessons that last a lifetime.

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To find a trail: 

Thanks to the glaciers long ago, the ecosystems of Michigan area are very diverse. And what better way to learn about them than to explore them on foot with the family in tow?

In Kent County, the Kent County Parks Foundation and The Friends of Grand Rapids Parks offers miles and miles of maintained trails in its expansive parks network that local residents can explore free of charge. The State of Michigan also offers great resources for hiking. Headed north? Try the Leelanau Land Conservancy for ideas of local nature walks. Some programs offer walks free for area residents.

Be sure to add to your summer bucket list nature centers and eco-preserves to walk the trails and experience the land that might be different. Remember, many of these habitats may have stringent rules prohibiting foraging – be sure to use these areas as learning laboratories only, taking nothing and leaving only footprints.

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Gathering black raspberries in the hedgerow behind our house.

Click HERE for my kid-friendly Staghorn Sumac Lemonade recipe and for more easy tips for foraging with kids, visit WZZM13 Online: Staghorn Sumac.

Don’t Bug Me: Herbal Spray & Bite Remedies

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A PureMichigan summertime is made up of camping trips, picnics, and summers by the lakeshore surrounded by family and friends. But usually unwelcome visitors to the festivities include the pesky mosquitos, ticks and spiders – unavoidable in our forests and backyards.

To fully ensure you will stay bite free, cover the skin up in lightweight fabrics – tech ware for the lake and woods are now increasingly more affordable and available to extend the enjoyment of being in the outdoors. To prevent the pesky (and potentially infectious) tick bites, be sure to wear shoes, socks and tuck long pants into the socks while hiking in the woods or through tall grasses.

While there are many commercial chemical bug sprays on the market to help deter and even soothe bothersome bug bites, it’s best to go chemical-free when at all possible. There are plant-based and natural alternatives to helping keep the bugs away and the itching at bay. Consider making your own blends of herbal bug repellant!!

Plants helpful for deterring mosquitoes include yarrow, catnip, lavender, and lemon grass. Click HERE to view my recent segment on WZZM Take Fivetalking about these plants, or click HERE to order my book, “Midwest Foraging”to ID these plants in the wild!

Burdock & Rose’s “Don’t Bug Me” Herbal Bug Deterrent & Skin Soother

For herbal tincture formula, mix equal parts tincture:**
Plantain
Chickweed
Yarrow
Catnip

Combine herbal tincture formula. Add 1 part formula to 1 part distilled water (50/50) blend to a spray bottle. Add essential oils of lavender or lemongrass as preferred, 15 drops/4oz bottle. Can be spritzed on clothing and skin to deter bugs, and also can be used topically to soothe bites.

**Plants can be foraged in the wild and prepared as tinctures or purchase tinctures pre-made from reputable sources like Mountain Rose Herbs.

Got bites? Plants helpful for soothing bites, scratches and itches topically include plantain, chamomile (as a tea to apply topically, or tea bags added to a soothing bath), chickweed, and calendula. Other natural remedies to relieve scratching include baking soda baths and applying zinc oxide on the scratches (especially to dry wet, weepy rashes). Avoid using oil-based creams and lotions on bites as that can increase irritation.

In the event of suspected West Nile virus (influenza like symptoms), visit your doctor but also consider an herbal protocol like echinacea, elderberry, boneset, yarrow, elderflower and medicinal mushrooms like reishi and maitake to support the peripheral immune system while fighting the virus. In the event of a suspected tick bite that may carry Lyme’s Disease (symptoms include a bull’s eye marking, rash, fever, dizziness, blurred vision), visit your MD immediately to seek antibiotic treatments.

 

 

For Mother’s Day.

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To the mothers who are also wives, ex-wives, widows, girlfriends, professionals who work out of the house, professionals who work in the home, daughters, grandmothers, sisters, caretakers, and/or insert label here: Take time to remember who you are this weekend.

Strip away the labels you’ve given yourself or allowed others to give you. Pare down to the essentials. Consider YOU and your identity. Remember your goals, your visions, your purpose and dreams for this life, regardless of age.

Children only remain children for so long. Families only need us in the caretaker capacity for a certain duration of time. Careers shift and change. Partners may change, leave or even die.

But at the center of it is you. Carve out time to consider that. Sit with it. Say hello to yourself and give yourself the hug you deserve that simply can’t come from anyone else.

Revisit the promises you’ve made for you and your future, and make new commitments to yourself. Beyond this Mother’s Day, strive to meet your own expectations.

The young people around us will come and go and have their own lives to manage eventually. But for us? We will be with ourselves until the end of time.

Consider this permission to do a bit of self-mothering this weekend. Because before we were moms, we were ourselves.

Spring Break Fun: Junior Forager Adventures

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The Starner kids learning a bit of botany in the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Florida.

 

Spring break is a time to load the car and head South to warmer climes, don sandals and enjoy the outdoors.

If you are headed out of town, be sure to visit area nature centers and eco-preserves to walk the trails and experience the land that might be different than in the Great Lakes. This is a great chance to expose children to plants that they wouldn’t find perhaps in their own neighborhood. Who knows? You may find your kids recognize some plants that are also found in Michigan!

If you are staying in Michigan over break, get the kids, neighbors’ kids and even dog outdoors to plan a Junior Forager adventure. Foraging can be one of the perfect activities for a staycation. You needn’t be heading to any place exotic to become a forager – foraging is an activity that can – and should – start as nearby in your own yard.

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In Michigan, Emma gathering early spring nettles in a nearby creek-bed.

 

Parents may say, “What’s outside now that I can forage or harvest?” or “How do I know what’s edible?” or “Where do I start if I want to forage?”

If you want to forage, head outside!!!  Here are my top five tips for Spring Break Foraging 101:

1) Head to the library and select a few good plant field guides for help with plant ID. I think Sam Thayer is one of the best wild edibles authors, but for beginning botany the Petersen field guides are a good start, and my book – “Midwest Foraging” will be available this June {Preorder here}.

2) Let the kids choose an area or two to explore. I recommend starting with your own yard, then maybe choose to explore a nearby park or a friend’s farm. Always ask permission, never gather from parks with rules against foraging, and most of all – know the plants before harvesting for the sake of safety and the plants’ sustainability.

3) Have the kids pack a notebook, colored pencils, a camera, and be sure they dress in weather appropriate outdoor clothing. Pack a lunch, too, if that’s your fancy. Make a day of it.

4) Then, head out, and pay attention. Practice your botany. Map plants on a notebook, notice their leaves, maybe sketch them in a book or take pictures with a camera.

5) Only taste and plants if you are 100% certain of their edibility. A few early spring favorites are violets, dandelions, garlic mustard and early field garlic. As the weather warms, the plants are going to take off! It’s also a good time to get those kids planting peas while you’ve got them outside!!!

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A much younger Emma, using Herbal Roots Zine to study Yarrow in New Mexico.

Let this journey be kid-led. Let them explore the outdoors, make a plant journal and even let them get muddy boots. Create a cool certificate or badge for those kids completing the adventure and to celebrate trying something new.  It’s a low-cost, high-yield activity that offers lessons to last a lifetime.

Want to have a few great materials to complement your wild plant learnings with kids? Check out Herbal Roots Zine – a great monthly plant magazine designed to help kids (and adults!) learn about plants and their uses!

Need expertise to organize a “Junior Foragers” adventure? Drop me a line to discuss private events at lisa.marlene.rose@gmail.com. Perfect for birthday parties!!! 

“Chestnuts Roasting on a Open Fire”

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… A holiday mantra that hits the airwaves at Thanksgiving and then repeats on loop through the December holiday madness. We hum the tune, but have you ever added chestnuts to your table during the holiday?

The chestnut is a pretty amazing food, filled with protein, minerals and vitamins and energy in fact, if ever needed to rely on a nut (Hunger Games, anyone?).  And it’s pretty versatile too. Chestnuts can be roasted, boiled into soups and ground into flours.

For an easy holiday appetizer that kids will enjoy, I suggest roasting chestnuts stovetop for snacking while that Christmas turkey or ham is in the oven.  They can be peeled and enjoyed warm from the shell. They have a very neutral, almost buttery flavor making them an easy food for children to appreciate.

We first introduced our own children to the chestnut several years ago on a fall foraging jaunt. One Sunday afternoon, the husband and I loaded the kids into the car for a Sunday drive west from Grand Rapids to Winkel Chestnut Farms to learn more about the chestnut. The Winkel Farm grows about 20 acres of chestnuts and have been doing it for over 20 years.  While we had missed their regular UPick season; the owners, Leslie and Dick, were super cool to let us bring the family out to forage for fallen nuts on the ground.

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My children listened to the farmers tell us the story of the American Chestnut — how it was once prolific throughout the eastern United States until the Chinese Chestnut tree was introduced in the late 1880s, when a virus it carried affected greatly the American Chestnut and nearly wiped out its population completely.

After about an hour of searching through the grass, we’d gathered several quarts of chestnuts. The children took it upon themselves to turn the ground foraging into a competition.  We wished we’d brought leather gloves — not realizing how spiky the spines of the chestnut were!

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We giggled and laughed in the sunshine, trying not to puncture our fingers with their spines.  Farmer Leslie fired up the roaster and showed the children how the nuts should be scored on the bottom before roasting. The kids loved the taste of the warm nuts and were excited about adding chestnuts to our Thanksgiving menu. And while my children would have tried the warm nuts straight out of the cast iron pan during the holiday, making that venture out to the chestnut farm gave us a bit of family time together outdoors and taught the kids a little about the food’s history and ecology.

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So now, each fall my kids see chestnuts at the farmers market or hear “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” they will know more about the chestnut than it being just a healthy food. They will have memories of our family heading out and foraging for them underneath the chestnut trees.

And to me that’s what creating a culture of food around the table is all about — creating lasting memories and new holiday traditions with loved ones.

***To find a chestnut farm or farmers market near you, check out LocalHarvest.org. And for ways to prepare chestnuts, check out the many ways you can prepare chestnuts on FoodIly.com.

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Peace in Silence

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As I look out my window typing this, winter has definitely settled in. Cold sun. Branches icing. Big, fat snowflakes float gently from the sky.

I pause to admire their beauty.  The quiet outside is a reflection of what I am feeling inside – a settling of peace, quiet, and contentment that only a moment of silence could offer. But then, that feeling lasts only a *moment.* The chaos around me whips me back to reality with a start – the phone rings, my dog barks, and my youngest child screams from another room needing my help. Sigh.

“How do I carry that sense of peace and contentment with me throughout the day,” I found myself wondering.

It is a theme I ponder often. How do I live in chaos, uncertainty, surrounded by suffering and *still* remain to be at peace? Peace. Peace is what I want for myself the next year. It would be cliche to say I am hoping for peace on earth. I mean, don’t get me wrong, that would not be a bad thing. But I think if I ever want to hope for a more peaceful world, I need to work on it myself and only hope that others want to join me on this same path.

So come along with me …

To find peace and contentment, I will need to suspend judgement, acknowledge that this moment is all I have – I’ve not been promised another.

I will try to remember that everyone around me is doing the best they can with what they have and I will try to honor the highest in everything they do.

I will look to the sky, the trees, the birds, the insects and to everyone around me and accept that they are already perfect… and also remember that I, too, am already perfect and can stop with the self-judgement to be more [insert blah blah blah here].

And even in a time of being socially networked, I will seek out the silence and quiet. To pause, be still, observe and re-find the joy that is always there in the silence waiting to be experienced.

So come along with me … My hope for you in this new year is that you have peace in your heart, a quiet mind and joy in your song as we embark upon yet another trip around the sun together. Collective peace, quiet and joy would be so awesome, non?

~~~

Returning to the SouthWest for Traditions, Bringing my kids along to join the Herbalism Resurgence

This year will mark my third year journeying to the desert southwest from the Mitten State for the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference. While only a few days long, the past two Traditions gatherings have played a pretty significant role in developing my confidence in growing as an herbalist. At the core it has helped me connect with the network of people committed to moving our relationship with the soil, the plants and with each other to a deeper level.

I am not by nature a dry, desert southwest person. I am a water person — a woman brought up in sailboats, on the water, on the beach. I do love a good warm summer; but constitutionally, hot and dry aggravates me in excess. Add wind, well, then I am a crumbling mess to blow away on the breeze.

Despite my mermaid proclivities, and much to my own amusement, I have fallen in love with the beguiling power and mystique of the desert Southwest. I am certainly not the first one to declare my enchantment for this place —  the desert, but the mountains, forests, canyons.

When I first acknowledged in my heart that my calling was to be an herbalist; my husband gave me Michael Moore’s classic, “Medicinal Plants of the Desert and Canyon West.” The book was his own personal copy, a relic of his childhood spent studying plants and traveling in the desert southwest, among the canyon lands and mountains. That gift, for many reasons, was very special to me and no matter that I am a girl of the Mitten, Moore’s enjoyable book remains as one of my most treasured.

Not long after my husband gifted me Moore’s book, Moore’s book in tow, I travelled to the mesas of New Mexico to attend the first Traditions at the Ghost Ranch. I found the spirits of the mesas calling to me, infusing my psyche with their ancient advice and encouragement. I left the first gathering with my heart expanded and with a sense of anticipation and uncertainty not knowing how my practice would unfold.

I returned home, a year passed. In that time, I launched my herbal CSA and actively began teaching in my community and continued learning from the plants and my teachers.

The second Traditions rolled around and I returned to the Ghost Ranch. This time only to be called to my knees (literally) by the ancients to pay attention to my intentions and question my own strength and motivations.

I fortunately was surrounded by caring souls who I realized I could show my weakness to — dear kindred spirits that had my back and let me collapse, and helped me back on my feet.

Upon returning to my home, I continued to be challenged on the physical level, with a winter spent recovering from knee surgery.   In the time span of nursing an injury, I continued to teach, contemplate more, and rest. Learnings came from paying attention, giving the time to healing as needed when recovering from a surgery. I actively worked to feed and strengthen my body. Pace has and continues to be an issue, and I still have to be mindful not too take on too much or push to hard.

And now, it is time to return to the southwest for traditions for a third time — to Arizona to the Coconino National Forest and Mormon Lake. Today I find myself comfortable in where I am as an herbalist — comfortable in what I know and comfortable not knowing as much as the herbalists more experienced than I. But at the same time, believing that I have something to contribute, something of value as part of growing this resurgence.

Traveling to Traditions with Children in Tow

One of my intentions this year while recovering from my knee injury was to contemplate what sort of practice I wanted to shape — what my practice would be like for my clients relative to my community’s needs and how it would fit into my own lifestyle given that I have children to care for as the primary hearth-tender at home.  Now, many of you that personally know me know that I am not the kind of mom for whom being a mommy comes easily. If left to my own devise, I could work on projects and plan and scheme for 14+ hours or more a day — I get my energy from my work (Did I say I had a problem with pacing myself?).

I will be honest — I was frustrated when I had to consider changing my travel plans considerably to accommodate my home schedule (husband’s travel, blah blah blah). Then, the clouds parted and it was suggested by a friend (Thanks, Gina!!!) to just bring my kids! And thanks-be to the patron saints of travel, so far arrangement-making has been relatively headache free. Needless to say, I am NOT driving the 29 hour trip to schlepp my kids to Arizona (Thanks, Rebecca!!!).

Of course the kids’ immediate response was, “Yay — no school!”  But also, much to my surprise was, “Wow — 7Song has a plant walk for kids,” and “I can’t wait to see Rebecca McTrouble!” Even, “I can’t wait to heal people at my first aid class.” {All giggles on my end}

They excitedly read through the classes for the weekend, marking their names to the classes they wanted to attend. I was delighted to see them excited about taking a kids herbal first aid class and Jacob even saying he wanted to go to all the kids classes and even sit in on 7Song’s Street Medic class.  Emma picked up on Jacob’s excitement at wanting to go to all the classes — “as long as there are crafts,” she said.

I am really grateful to the organizers — particularly to Kiva Rose, Katja Swift and to Kristine Brown — who have made it a priority to create programs for kids so they can be involved in the resurgence of herbal medicine.  Because of their really great advice about shaping a good experience at Traditions with kids in tow; I plan to set aside my own agenda (dammit — how I really, really, really want to sit through all of the great classes on the agenda and absorb!!) and shape our experience by letting my kids discover, inquire, make friends, get outside and just be.

For me, finding good flow and a reasonable pace has always been challenging. Aligning my life and work to the seasons has allowed me to shift and flow with not only the cycles of nature, but of the days, and minutes and hours and the curveballs that get handed to me all the time. Respecting the need to shift and be flexible is difficult for me; but helps me just “go with it”  so even with this upcoming weekend with other herbalists, I can flow into this space with my children in tow and integrate them into the tribe of herbalists I love and admire so dearly.

And now, with what at first I saw as a tremendous barrier, I now see as an exciting opportunity to introduce my children into my tribe of herbalist folk and hope they too feel they are part of the next generation of herbalists. Because they are.