The chickadees and flickers have come back from the hills, signalling the end of summer (so have the yearly plague of houseflies, but that's another story!). I'm glad we have lots of sunflowers for the little chickadees to feast on, and a nice dead spruce tree for the flickers (flickers are large woodpeckers)!
This is the time of year to harvest herbs for teas to use throughout the winter, as our great-grandmothers did before us. If you're lucky enough to have raspberry bushes, be sure to harvest their leaves (but not all off of each plant!) to dry and use during flu season (although at our house, flu season seems to have been year-round this year!).
Raspberry leaves are high in iron, calcium, chromium, fiber, magnesium, niacin, pectin, selenium, thiamin, and zinc, to name a few. That's quite a vitamin pill! We like to mix the leaves with peppermint when making tea, to make it go down easier. Dr. Christopher recommends that girls who are entering puberty (or before) drink three cups of raspberry tea each day, since raspberry is a specific for the female organs. It's also a wonderful pregnancy tonic.
Be sure to harvest any strawberry leaves you might have, while you're at it, since they are very high in vitamin c, and are an old folk remedy for loose gums. In fact, any berry leaves (except nightshade, of course!) are good to dry and use for tea.
Yarrow flowers and leaves are a real blessing for breaking up a fever, and if you have comfrey, be sure to dry some of it, too (Use gloves when handling the dried leaves, as they are prickly.), for use for burns, bronchial problems, etc. Also, most culinary herbs have medicinal uses, as well.
Here are some yarrow plants in our yard (yellow flowers).
The best way to dry herbs is either on a screen in a warm place out of direct sunlight, or hang them from a rafter somewhere out of the way. When they are dry and crumbly, put them in a glass jar, out of direct sunlight. Use them as you would any other tea, about a spoonful of herb to a cup of water (or just dump a handful in a teapot, according to your taste).
This would be a good time of year to begin a study of medicinal herbs, when summer's busy-ness is over. I would recommend a few classic books like Jethro Kloss' "Back to Eden", and "The Herb Book", by John Lust. The internet also has a host of informational websites to peruse.
May we all experience the best of health this coming winter, for it is indeed our greatest wealth.
"The fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine."-Ezekiel 47:12