Motherhood and the New Ring on My Tree


Red cedar cross section showing tree ring growth

It’s finally springtime.  And, I’m feeling the warm sun thawing the last, cold-knuckled grip of winter.  I have never been so ready for spring (clutches table in front of me and locks you in a exasperated stare).

My little one, born in late October, is now 5 months old.  Through the short days and long nights of winter, we both journeyed…figuring each other out.  I could feel the rawness of survival during those dark months…she was fighting to survive as all new babes do…  Winter just added another layer of seriousness to the experience.

We had plenty of highs and lows together.  My husband was like the moon and then the sun each day, present and willing…helping me prepare for the next hurdle.  We both were in over our heads, but we both showed up the best we could.

What we didn’t know about babies and parenthood, we searched the internet for hidden treasures to try and understand assorted colors of  baby poo…newborn milestones…the milk protein sensitivity our little one had…and every aspect of breastmilk production possible (such is the way of a disconnected, non-nourishing, non-baby-centric world).

I found some useful things there (my favorite was this babywearing blog post and of course KellyMom).  Mostly, I just had to stop going down internet wormholes (and not look at any more google images).

We also talked to friends who had worn the baby-making path with their half-asleep feet…

And, we learned…

They all said, “it’ll get better.”

And, it has…

But, I’m still amazed at how much I thought I knew and how much I didn’t know.

Truly.  Any training I’ve had in my life on tapping into my intuition has been in full force.  If intuition were a muscle, it has been through some serious training recently.

I suppose this is what makes a mother.

maternity leave graph

Graph taken from “Parental Leave Policies in 21 Countries” Center for Economic and Policy Research (aka shame-on-you-U-S-A)

So yes, we have been on the biggest learning curve of our lives with this little one.  My husband announced the other day, “I am now a big supporter of paternity leave…3 months is good…6 months is ideal.”

He gets it.

And, of course, I am a supporter of maternity leave.  In Sweden, women get about 480 paid leave days to be with their new little one.  Their partners can get up to 90 of those days.

I heard on public radio the other day that the first female senator will be on maternity leave soon.  However, the US Senate had no maternity leave policy.  It had never happened before.  So, this senator was working on crafting something up for future women (and hopefully men).

I was surprised that I was surprised.

Pray tell.  How is a male-dominated senate supposed to make policies for women and the terrain of postpartum needs and early child development in our country then?  …our own senate didn’t even have a maternity leave policy!

Back to winter memories…shall we?

crocus TN feb 18

Crocuses, a spring-time teaser

On days that were sunny and a touch warmer, we would bundle up and go on a walk with our little one in her carrier.  I learned to watch the weather like an obsessed person.  I was looking for a window, an opportunity to get out of the dang house-cave!

Around mid-February, the crocuses pictured above was taken.  This bundle of brightness was nestled at some nearby cross-streets which were at the beginning of our walk.

After I saw their saffron blooms, I watched the weather even more.  Surely we were done with freezing temperatures.

No we weren’t.

Just before another slight dip in temps in late February, we went to Pigeon Point, a protected woodland cove in NW Georgia.  It’s to  the South of us and we wanted to see the first of the spring ephemerals, as well as celebrate our daughter’s 4th month alive.

It was magical.  I spotted a note-worthy carpet of the rare Trout Lily near the waterfall with its first two blooms.  I imagine they are all in bloom right now.


Now, in late March, I am proud to say that the freezing temps are behind us.  All my favorite spring weeds are bursting forth — cleavers, chickweed oh chickweed!, plantain, dandelion, speedwell, violets, and purple dead nettle, to name a few.

Yes, it’s that time of year to make your Spring Green Drink.  Drink your spring herbs, I say!  They are the tonic you need to enliven your sleepy winter cells!

Speaking of herbal preparations such as that, it’s been months since I’ve harvested and crafted an herbal preparation.  What used to be commonplace in my life barely had any room as I adjusted to new life as a mother.

(I totally get why women drop off the face of the planet when a child is born…why couples disappear in friend groups.  If only society were more baby-centric…women wouldn’t have to disappear).

march 13 medicine making

My friend visited a couple weeks ago and we made some deer and beef tallow salves with comfrey, plantain, and sunny calendula infused olive oils.  We gathered the comfrey and plantain from the yard.  I had been infusing dried, whole-flower calendula into the oil for weeks prior to her visit.  We topped off its first aid powers with some lavender essential oil.

We made butt balm for the baby and will also use the salves for dry skin, skin irritation, scrapes, bites, and minor cuts.  Good stuff.

It was so nice to be preparing again…  And, to do it in good company made it even better…

Over the winter, I also down-sized my apothecary to a mere armful of bottles.  What used to be gallon-jars-galore became 4 oz’s of this here, 8 oz’s of that there…  We are moving again, so the down-sizing was necessary.  As well, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to see clients again.

Even though tinctures are typically stable for up to five years, I wanted the herbs to be in good hands.  At the apothecary, I usually used herbs that I had tinctured the year before, the following year.   So, each year was a new batch of tincture for most plants that I used.


On the left is a picture of the apothecary before I downsized it.  On the right are pictures of the dried herbs and tinctures after I downsized.

However, I’ve down-sized the apothecary even more since these pictures were taken.  I donated a load of tincture to wonderful Phyllis Light (herbalist & teacher) and her school in Arab, AL.  Her students often run a free clinic for folks in the area and she works with a lot of low-income folks.

phyllis light herb donation

Tincture donation to Phyllis Light and Appalachian Center for Natural Health

The herbs were actually picked up today by one of her students.  Those tincture bottles of plant medicine are on their way to the right people, I feel.

The other day I figured out that I dispensed about 8,000 fluid ounces of plant medicine in tincture form in the Southeast (mainly) at the apothecary!  WOW!  …And, probably about 1500 fluid ounces of infused oils/salves/balms…and 2500 ounces of dried plant material through the tea blends.

…time to shed that skin, though, and continue to fall into this new chapter in my life…  Motherhood.  Caring for my daughter and continuing to recover my body after childbirth (and now breastfeeding).

I will continue to make plant medicine (because I really can’t stop).  And, I will continue to write and teach and EXPLORE

I’ll write more after the move in early April.  With our up-coming move, I’ll be stepping into a new bioregion, so this will be fascinating!

A new ring on my tree.
Sap rises.
Buds unfurl into leaf and flower.
A new cycle begins.
It’s finally time to step out of our winter cave.

Spring blessings to you and yours…may the warmth of the sun and the longer days fill you with possibility ❤


6 thoughts on “Motherhood and the New Ring on My Tree

  1. Madhupa Maypop

    Very glad to read the latest in your life and family and your beautiful little world.
    We are often more subject to and part of our natural surroundings than we give notice or credit to. The spring is a time of great awakening and a reminder of who and what we are and what we would be without the world around us; we would be nothing.
    I too, though later as Canada is slower to warm up, am greatly anticipating the warmer and brighter days, the first buds appearing, the birds filling their bellies with new food and new broods.
    This year I will spend many hours and days at one of the most recognized urban conservation areas in our country; Mud Lake, Britannia, Ottawa has 170+ species of birds, close to 500 plants and innumerable bugs, amphibians, fish and small mammals. You can Google it. I counted 500 ducks, all paired, one day in February.
    As you may guess, my focus will be on the 6 species of wild rose known to exist in this particular tiny universe.
    Since we last talked by email I have read 10,000 references to wild rose spanning every century and continent over 5,000 years. Indeed, many references are native indian legends going back uncounted eons.
    I no longer have any doubt that rose is the preeminent herb with so much to give us it staggers the mind.
    I cannot make any recommendations at this time other than to say, please, use every part of this plant for food, medicine, meditation and whatever ills you and yours.
    Rose heals beautifully where other plants dare not even go.
    The planet is in trouble. It will need resurrection and restoration. Now is our time to prepare.
    Blessings be upon you and yours. A special blessing on your man. So much of this is foreign to them where it comes much more natural to women.
    In my experience he will grow, just like your child(ren), in strength and wisdom with your kindness and care.

    • Oh the place you are at just sounds brilliant…yes, the warmth gets to you later…but spring is unstoppable and on her way!

      Your rosey adventures sound fascinating… I actually heard a very healing reference to rosehips on HerbRally…I’m sure you will appreciate!

      And, thanks for your kind words…!

      • Thank you for giving me the kind words to speak.

        I have written Dr. Rose after hearing her podcast.
        Turns out she is working where I was living in Texas for a time. LIke, 10 miles down the road.
        How quaint.

        You struck a chord.
        It has long been my desire that all would know ‘there is not any more important work than raising and nurturing children and the earth’.
        Your life, and that of your family, speaks those words louder than anyone can ever say them.
        Just keep walking the talk.

      • (thank you) — I’ve been trying to build a ‘network of nourishment’ for some time now — I do what I can in my own life and with my family ❤

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