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Kids & Herbs

It’s been pretty dry here over July, and everything was suffering. The grass hurt your feet to walk on as it crunched under them and everything was a little to crisp to be useful. Though I did get handfuls of daisies and red clover to adorn my desk. That’s one thing I’ve always loved about daisies – they grow and bloom whether it rains or not – just like kids.

Finally we got some rain last week, then this week and things are starting to perk back up. The creek still barely has any water in it, but better than none, and the goldenrod has suddenly started to burst in its fireworks of blossoms. As much as I love the spring and early summer flowers like iris and lilies, my favorite flowers are the late-summer flowers – the daisies, chicory and then iron weed.

I love colors – rich, vibrant colors and art class has always been one of my favorites because of it. So, there is nothing better than being able to show my kids how much God loves color too when he puts bright goldenrod in the same field with it’s complimentary color – iron weed with it’s stately, rich purple – what a simple art lesson.

The other little marvels are how it’s convenient that poison ivy usually grows with jewelweed – it’s preventative. (When you accidently touch the poison ivy there’s usually jewelweed nearby to crush and rub on you so you don’t get it – you can even rub it on your clothes and shoes.)

It’s so much fun to show the kids how things have a purpose and how it all fits into place nicely by God’s own design, it makes sense to them and that gives them a great understanding.

There are so many things I make it a point to teach them about plants and herbs – it’s especially important when you have woody nightshade growing nearby and you have to be sure it isn’t deadly nightshade when your toddler goes and eats one of the berries. Both are highly poisonous, but the deadly nightshade is fatal in very small quantities. We had such an incident recently – I called my parents while my older daughter ran and immediately grabbed an herbal book to look it up (without being directed to), all as I grabbed a glass and prepared to make salt water to induce vomiting, and we realized that the berry in question was only the woody nightshade, and one won’t kill you. Then later we found a berry laying on the ground and it’s skin next to it, so it was most likely spit out. I removed all the woody nightshade growing on the fence so that this kind of incident wouldn’t happen again – at least not this year, because a couple more of those berries eaten would cause all sorts of things from vomiting to hallucinations, and can be fatal, especially to a small child. The most frightening thing about it is that the symptoms don’t appear for 8-12 hours.

Another good example is pokeweed. Poke berries are often attractive to young children also – though not necessarily fatal – will cause stomach cramping, vomiting, diarrhea and weakness. These things are important for children to know at as early an age as possible and cannot be lost throughout the coming generations. It’s wonderful to see a growing trend towards the study and use of plants and herbs. The more we teach our children – the more informed all future generations will be.

It’s also such a wonderful thing to see when your children are actually learning. As soon as the rains came and the leaves everywhere had life in them again, my older kids started bringing me handfuls of leaves to dry instead of flowers. They didn’t bother to pick them when they were all dried and lifeless, which I also found interesting to observe. I was so thrilled because I didn’t ask them to or anything. They found goldenrod and picked me nice clean leaves to dry for tea, along with plantain. I was just as happy, maybe even a little more so, to have my children bring me herbs to dry, because this shows me that I am actually teaching them something and gives me encouragement and inspiration to carry on.


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