I lingered a little longer in bed this morning, watching the early morning sun glistening on fresh fallen snow, my heart overflowing with gratitude and thanks giving for all the gifts that have been given me in this lifetime and most especially for the amazing beautiful people in my life. For each of you, my teachers, students, friends, family, I give incredible thanks and honor and wish for you a full heart and a beautiful day of thanks giving.
I think back over the years to that time when I opened my first little herb shop in the small town of Guerneville, California. I was 22 years old, following a dream that I really had no idea where it would lead! What an awesome journey it’s been! That little herb store, Rosemary’s Garden, is still there, planted on such fertile soil and watered so well by a loving community. The store led to the creation of a line of tea blends made for my community that would later become Traditional Medicinals. My dear friend, Drake Sadler, who helped me dream and launch the tea line, still runs the company and has grown it into an international company that is an industry leader in environmental standards (the company runs entirely on solar energy, all the packaging is still recycled and recyclable, they use organically cultivated herbs and are a huge supporter of United Plant Savers). The classes I taught in the loft of that small store grew to become The California School of Herbal Studies. That amazing school is still open today and continues to train hundreds of students in the herbal healing arts under the careful guidance of Rebecca and Jason
The Plant Lover’s Journey’s that take us around the world today to study plants and meet with plant lovers world wide were first launched on a little school bus, Gitano Brujo, the Gypsy Healer, driven by Daniel Pinney. We drove that bus, our Herb School on Wheels, to Baja each winter for many years to study plants and be with the whales as they gave birth in the lagoons of Baja. That brave little bus with thirty or more students each trip climbed almost every big mountain of the Northwest, discovered hot springs along the way, took us by ferry to Vancouver Island in Canada and all the way down to Grand Canyon in Colorado. After over 30 years on the road, Gitano retired last year at Herb School where its journey first began. But the Plant Lover’s Journey’s continue. One of my dearest friends and fellow herbalists, Jane Bothwell and I just arrived home a few days ago from our latest Plant Lover’s Journey. Traveling with 23 wonderful plant lovers including my grandson, Andrew, we explored the abundantly plant rich countryside of Costa Rica with our amazing hosts and guides, Stephen Brooks and Sarah Wu. Stephen and Sarah run Punta Mona, Costa Rica’s oldest and most well known permaculture farm and retreat center on the Caribbean coast. They’ll be hosting a large international herbal event, Medicines from the Edge, in March. Jane and I have both been invited to teach at it, so we’ll be returning again in just a few months to this amazingly beautiful country and meeting with more herbalists/ plant lovers there as well as leading another Plant Lover’s Journey to Costa Rica.
I moved to this mountain in Vermont over 25 years ago and have been happily plant loving on the East Coast since. It was a huge change for me, moving from a community where I was firmly planted to a wild mountaintop where I knew hardly anyone. Even the plant communities were so different than what I had known and loved back in northern California. But I rooted in firmly, trusting that the plants had a plan for me. And they did! I learned my plants quickly, but also began to realize that many of the plants that we loved, were being ‘loved to death’, some over harvested due to the ever-growing herb market, but most disappearing because of habitat destruction and other ills of our time. We founded United Plant Savers in 1994 to address these issues, and really, I would say that plant conservation and preservation became the larger focus of my work. UpS has done an amazing job bringing the issues of plant conservation to the herbal community and the herb industry. Next year UpS celebrates its 20th Anniversary and our hope is to celebrate by reaching 2,000 members. What a loud clear voice that will be for the plants. If you’re not a member, please consider joining. This is the one organization we have as herbalists that is for and about the plants, what we can do for them, rather than what they do for us.
People have been a bit alarmed that I recently posted Sage Mountain for sale. Sorry, if I alarmed anyone. I’ve been talking about this change for a few years now, and finally decided it was time. Some people have even expressed concerned that I may be sick, or dying, or tired of my herbal work. Given the recent and sudden death of our beloved friend, Cascade, (we’re all still reeling from the loss), it’s no wonder that people might be thinking such things. But I’m fine! Though I’m definitely dying (as we all are), I’m not dying yet, as far as I know. I’m just nearing my mid 60’s (I’ll be 65 in a couple of weeks!!!) and ready to simplify my life a little. I will, of course, continue to do my herbal work (teach, write, and continue my home study course); its my life! My husband, Robert, who does all the maintenance on the Mountain and keeps things looking as beautiful as they are, is also nearing his 60’s and would like to spend more time hiking, fishing, and relaxing. We both feel responsible for this amazing beautiful wild mountain retreat and would like to see it be stewarded by people who have more energy than we do at this point in our lives. It’s all positive! For the land and for us. We will be very careful, of course, who we select to care take and own this Mountain. It has blessed us endlessly as well as hundreds of other people with its wild majestic spirit; my agreement with it is to find the ‘right’ new owners, in the same way that we were called here so many years ago by the spirits of Sage Mountain.
Which leads me back full circle to the purpose of this ‘little note’….to give praise and gratitude for all the many gifts in my life, and to thank each of you for being part of this amazing journey that leads right up to this precious moment in time. As much as the plants have nourished and guided me on this plant wise journey, it is really the people of the plant community that have opened my heart and directed me on life’s journey. Life offers so many challenges, ups and downs, and tidal waves of change, but it’s been an awesome journey made even more remarkable by the people I’ve met each step of the way. I love plants with all my heart, and love people who love plants even more. Teachers, students, friends, my life is made the richer because of you and the interactions we’ve had together over the years.
May your heart be full with gratitude and thanks on this beautiful thanksgiving day,