Ribbon of highway (thank you Woody Guthrie)

Pardon the picture quality, the iPad is not my best camera!

Pardon the picture quality, the iPad is not my best camera!

Just a couple of old hippies headed down I-5, as we each have done more times then our memories can hold, over a span of 35-40 years. Now there are more pit stops, stiff legs need more stretching, and for my tired body there is no comfortable position in the bucket seats of modern vehicles for a drive of an hour, let alone days. This is not one the marathons of the past and  youthful energy. Our destination tonight is Grants Pass, OR. Our goal: Nevada City, CA. We started later than we wanted, even getting going is slower!

We pull our trailer, but this is not our usual NW camping trip, if it were we’d be heading east to the mountains or beyond, west to the ocean, or, if going north or south we’d avoid I-5 when possible. I-5 is the route I least like driving in all the northwest, yet it is the main arterial of the west coast, the backbone that connects families and friends, commerce, and three diverse states that share two common bonds…..the Pacific Ocean and I-5. Driving it does bring memories of trips for pleasure, work, moving……with companions from the past, family, solos, or with a happy canine buddy. So many familiar landmarks, signs, businesses, a bend in the road, the rivers, and of course the distance mountains, where I’d rather be headed.

My first trip with Mike along this ribbon of highway was to our California wedding (we had a Washington wedding a week later).

image On September 13, 2001, we headed south to visit an elder friend in Klamath Falls, OR. Our trip diverted east, taking us off I-5 for part of the drive. The world had changed two days earlier. We observed and heard a range of reactions from people and communities to the terrorist attacks. Our friend died the day after our visit. Traffic on I-5 was lighter than usual

Most of you reading this have your own memories of this 4 to 6 lane expressway and where it has taken you.

The  first vehicle I bought on my own was a 1950 red Ford pick-up. Made the year I was born, I bought it from an elderly couple in rural Lane County, Oregon. They had bought it new, I bought it from them in ’72. They cried as I drove away in “their” truck, no doubt full of memories and stories of their life together. In the glove compartment, with the owners manual, was a map of Oregon and Washington. There was no I-5 on the map.

The first four and half years of my life, before moving east, my family lived in a house my parents had built near Jackson Park Golf Course in Seattle. It was a “modern” house by some architect whose name I have at home, but not here on the road. It was written up in the newspaper. Among my memories of living there were the times it would snow and I would accompany my older brothers across the street, through a wooded path to the golf course where we would sled down a to a creek. The location of that creek is where cars now drive 70 mph, or crawl in rush hour on I-5. There was no I-5 when we went sledding.

imageOn this trip I am grateful for this “high speed” freeway. (Back east they were called turnpikes and heading out on family trips we paid tolls every so many miles, I imagine it’s still that way, it’s been 42 years). The irony of this trip is I am headed to a week of Pancha Karma, the foundational healing protocal of Ayurveda, one of the oldest health care systems in the world. I am zipping down this modern concrete river of polluting cars, coughing now and then from some heavy exhaust spewing vehicle, so I can be cared for and coddled in the hope of bringing balance to a body that has forgotten how to sleep, whose immune forces are too weak, whose response to life’s stressors was cancer.

I think on the trip home we may follow the map sans I-5

. We just passed Hubbard, OR. No relation. My kin are Washington folks.

Feel free to share your own I-5 memories.


Excuse any awkwardness, first iPad posting, first writing in a car!

Later: almost there as sun goes down on the green hills of southern Oregon, by far one of the most beautiful sections of I-5.

Jody and the Cottonwoods

I share with you a guest posting by Jody Berry, owner, formulator, heart, and soul of Wild Carrot Herbals, my favorite body care products company.  It became my favorite when I discovered Vanilla Bean Skin Cream, a body cream so luscious you have to resist eating it, in fact it comes with a warning not to!  I have used other products made by Wild Carrot Herbals that have been very beneficial, including a Borage cream that successfully treated a terrible rash I had after surgery.  Jody is a Naturalist, an Herbalist, a mom and a delightful writer whose deep love of Nature resonates with my own.  With her permission, I share with you the latest posting from her blog, Mountain Mama Musings.  Last summer Jody moved her family and company from the west side of Oregon to Enterprise and has been sharing her child-like wonder at discovering Nature’s gifts on the ‘east side’.  Oh yea, she is also married to a Mike!

Enjoy Nature’s enchantment on a special day for Jody and her daughter.


Alpine Cottonwood Bud Harvest

By Jody Berry

This is the first plant that I have wildcrafted since we made the move over to the other side of the state.  Cottonwood bud harvesting in my Willamette Valley homeland had always been done in the massive groves along the Clackamas, Willamette and Columbia rivers.  I am so happy that cottonwood is in higher elevations too.

The first big difference is that I am doing this in April – not in February.  The boundaries created by 4 seasons are growing on me.  Frozen ground and dormant buds create a true time of dormancy for this plant girl.  I feel more rested than ever this winter and not in the “I have to do it all right now” adrenal stress state that I often reside in.  Cave time is good.  Now to retrain my eyes and my psyche around this new plant kingdom calendar.

The second big difference is the bud itself.  They are stronger smelling and much juicier.  The resin is scarlet red and not so much the amber hue that I am accustomed to.  The sticky residue left on my hands from the harvest is not nearly as manageable.  Basically I am a mess – it is all over my clothes and hands and I am not sure how I am going to drive home without permanently destroying the steering wheel of my car!  It is so worth it though, I wear the medicine of this plant with joy.

I have gone out to harvest for several days now.  The first day I harvested while a bald eagle watched me closely.  Another day was a solo journey.  Yesterday was my favorite day so far.  With my 5 year old daughter and 1 year old Border Collie, we spent an entire day adventuring and seeing what we could find.  The weather was a glorious spring day.  There were morning showers that turned to brilliant sunshine and everything was glistening and green and bright.  Golden buttercups greeted us in the fields as we walked through the Ponderosa Pines to the water.  Cottonwoods love water as much as I do.  We marveled at how well they helped to hold the river banks.  We sang songs to the baby cottonwood trees and their bright orange branches and buds.  Finally we found a grove of Grandmother trees and all of the branches from a winter of wind storms that were at their feet.  Many of the buds had already been picked.  Do deer eat cottonwood bud?  Is there another plant forager in the county that I need to meet?  Ginger played in the water and threw pebbles for the little dog.  She attempted to build a bridge across a little tributary with beaver chewed sticks and big rocks.  I picked buds from fallen branches.  The river was so loud that we couldn’t hear each other and so there was no point to try and talk.  We just listened to what the river had to say and took in the light and the sunshine and the glorious scent of cottonwoods and Ponderosa pines.

It is moments like this that I feel my heart may burst with happiness.  The simple task of harvesting, of asking permission, and giving thanks to these plants that offer us great gifts with such openness – is humbling indeed.  I feel like the luckiest woman alive that this is my work and that in a small way we are able to share this plant joy with others.  Bearing witness to my child grow wiser to the plants and animals around her and her comfort level grow in this new wild place makes me feel with great certainty that I am exactly where I am supposed to be on this wheel of life.  Thank you cottonwood!

You can read about how Jody prepares and uses the Cottonwood buds at another one of her posts: Plant Speak: Cottonwood Bud

Wild Carrot Herbals are found in many stores, including the Port Townsend Food Coop, Whole Foods, PCC, and other stores that carry healthy body care products.