Awhile ago i finally sent for three boxes that friends had kept for me in their attic. For about ten years.
These were the pieces i had salvaged from my life on the outskirts of the French Pyrenean village, St Laurent de Cerdans. I had thought i was there to stay. I was not. And so, on i went, leaving behind beloved animals, dear friends, herb gardens and fruit trees and 'my' much loved mountains. I took a backpack plus another bag. At first my material life distilled down to eight boxes. Then, on a return visit, i got ruthless and gifted many wonderful things to wonderful friends. Goodbye thrifted Le Creuset kitchenware! Goodbye vintage gowns! Books, my dear Dremmel drill...they all went to new homes. I felt lighter for gifting the stuff but left a small piece of my heart on that land, and three boxes.
A few weeks ago i came across a little bag. It is made from the fabric woven in the oldfashioned factory still operating in St Laurent de Cerdans and my dear friend Mihuk made it for me. So many memories just in those colours and stripes. Then i opened it.
You know, the wave of memories when you unearth artwork or writing from ages past? Uh huh.
It's like a visit from your former self.
These are a bunch of lino cuts i had made for the book i had written, the Plant Medicine workshops i was running and the herbal products i was making and selling, literally, off the kitchen table.
In 'my' little stone house dating back to the 1600's. (The back wall of the house was the mountain, the terracotta tiles were laid directly on packed earth and the walls were over a metre thick. They built 'em to last back then!)
I love that they have come to light just when i need them. These prints will be used in the new version of the Plant Medicine Handbook i wrote. It's being used in class at UCLA this year, and i have it back on my market stall.
It used to be everyday household knowledge for women to know the basic herbs to treat common ailments like coughs, colds, cuts and bruises. Hopefully it will be once again. By demand, i am giving a Plant Medicine workshop locally next month and i'm looking forward to doing more. The old women in the Czech Republic and Croatia i learnt much of my herblore from, taught me freely (their daughters and grand daughters were 'modern' women and did not want to learn) but asked that i keep passing on this knowledge. I will do this.