Sleeping runners

While we anticipate movement of animals, we expect plants sit quietly in one place. But there is a group of plants that hide running shoes. They mostly grow in steppes, where the open space provides the right atmosphere to enjoy cross-country running.

As the average temperature rises and rainfall decreases, steppe plants appear in my area as well. One of them is field eryngo (Eryngium campestre), currently looking like a regular green plant, maybe like a kind of thistle. I have met many on my walk along the path and in the middle of it. At the moment, they looked satisfied and settled, full of fresh juice.

You wouldn’t guess that in a few months, the green splendor will develop a big thorny air ball, running for freedom with the support of wind.

I understand that growing and reproducing in steppe conditions is difficult, so the running capability is a gift to make it easier. On the other hand, I am a bit nervous how much field eryngo I have met. What if local plants don’t survive in the competition? Obviously, I will have an opportunity to watch evolution step by step.

Until then I can imagine the full shelf of running shoes that field eryngo hides in the roots 😊

With love,

Ivana

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To be a bee

Walking through the blooming landscape and foraging medicinal plants means to have an instant contact with bees. And I tell you, I admire them!

They live in society, where everyone knows the place and duty. Most bees belong to workers, that we meet humming around blossoms and collecting nectar into cups on their legs. Do you think they have time to chat how the queen is not so accurate or the drones are lazy?

I admire the logistic of them. Imagine how many flowers bloom at the same time and each of them hopes to be pollinated on time. And some blossoms are blooming for one day only! A small mistake in logistic could bring lack of fertility and loss in crop.

How do the workers know where to fly and keep the efficiency so high? Is there a structure of managers? Do they have plans and motivation meetings? I am curious to know.

The drones are specific group of bees in the bee society. They are kind of “macho” bees and I believe that some of male human beings will happily catch their job of dreams, to fertilize the queen and lay at home on eggs if they need to be warmed. Nobody force them to work and feed the family. Hopefully it doesn’t sound too feminist. I am aware that the job of dreams is compensated by a short life of drones.

And of course there is her Majesty the Queen! The biggest and very unique bee sits at home on the throne, letting the others work for her. Who wouldn’t change?

I wouldn’t. The queen is important with no doubts, but sitting at home all the time with responsibility to keep healthy future of the whole society? This is hard job in very limited space. I will likely change with the workers, flying cross the country and touching blooming flowers every day. Although they work hardly I believe they also have some fun and opportunity to watch the world.

With love and gratitude to bees,

Ivana

Liverleaf, Hepatica nobilis

Besides Lungwort, Liverleaf is another spring flower that blooms before new leaves are fully developed. As if they couldn’t wait longer, light purple flowers raise their heads from damp soil to the spring sun even in the shadow of forest.

I know the place where Liverleaf grows in abundance, creating incredible carpet of live wildflowers. The beauty of them takes my breath every time, and I am almost afraid to enter the place because those flowers are so fragile!

Yesterday, I found the first blooming Liverleaf. So far, it was the only Cinderella in the middle of nothing, but also it was a clear sign that the right time is coming and sisters are going to bloom very soon.

If you are looking for the place with Liverleaf before blooming, you can find it easily according to the evidence of last year leaves. They are very unique with 3 lobes, tough in consistency like an old alcoholic liver. No matter how long and hard the winter was, the old leaves stay in their place, so the young flowers could lean on them.

Similar to Lungwort flowers, I like to eat the Liverleaf flowers. As they grow close to each other and bloom simultaneously, they create beautiful and healthy mix of edible flowers, suitable for immediate consumption.

Even though I’m careful to keep the ratio in favor of Lungwort because Liverleaf is slightly poisonous as it belongs to the family of Ranunculaceae, But the main portion of active substances is contained in leaves, so the consumption of flowers is quite safe.

As the name suggests, Liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis) is used in cases of liver disease. Although I prefer to use other herbs for this purpose, I still gather some Liverleaf because I’m fascinated by the shape and tough consistency of its leaves. I admire the ability to overcome difficult conditions and hope to learn it, drinking the tea.

With love, Ivana

Pink beauty for healthy lungs

It looks that spring is finally ready to manifest itself! Despite strong frosts and snowfall recently, sunshine calls nature to start unrolling buds. Even though it’s too early, I’ve been already checking my places and searching signs of new life among dry and brown last year’s leaves.

First what I’m looking each spring for, are wonderful flowers of Lungwort. I’m hungry for the moment when I see the incredible tenderness of pink and purple. In my daily life I always prefer yellow before pink, but the first spring flowers of Lungwort are probably the only exception.

I really love the unique colors of Lungwort, sweet to look and also sweet and juicy to taste. It’s like a promise that the whole season could be such sweet and delicious. Once I discover the first Lungwort flowers of the year, I gather them directly to my mouth and eat them immediately 😋

My second choice for Lungwort flowers is still eating them directly, but in more civilized way like adding them into salad or put them on potatoes with cottage cheese. It looks and tastes fantastic!

Lungwort belongs to the plants that bloom before their leaves grow fully. So you can enjoy the beauty and taste of flowers before serious harvest for healing purpose. And there is one big purpose of the Lungwort, clear by the name, the healthy lungs!

Lungwort has strong anticarrhal and demulcent effects, so you can successfully use it in case of cold with cough. It reduces unwanted mucus caused by pathogens and protects irritated tissues. The content of silicon and allantoin accelerates skin regeneration, so the Lungwort can be also used externally for longterm wounds even with pus. But the most common use of Lungwort is still in wide range of lung diseases like bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, etc.

Even though the Lungwort looks so useful and kind, there is one warning for all who have problems with blood coagulation (clotting) because the Lungwort slightly increases the level of it. A few fresh flowers should be fine, but be careful about longterm use.

I hope to see the pink and purple flowers soon and this year herbal season will really start!

Which plant is the sign of spring for you?

With love, Ivana

Playing with the Elements, Part 3 – Water

Water is lazy, quiet and cold. Therefore it represents sleep, silence, darkness and even death. Water cannot move on its own. Its movement is always caused by external forces such as gravity or Moon in the case of high and low tides.

So, why we do say that healthy water must flow? And that standing water is an opportunity to grow molds and diseases? Because the external forces of nature and the Universe never stop. And if the water stands, then something acts against those natural or universal forces.

We humans love to act like this. Here are some examples of how we block the natural flow of water in our civilized lives.

On a macro scale, I would mention a boom of concreted riverbed which didn’t respect the original streams and which, a few decades later, cause disastrous floods.

Inside of human body, we often block natural sweating, which is the most effective way to get rid of toxic substances through the largest body organ – the skin. Instead we massively use inappropriate deodorants that block the sweat glands and forbid them natural working, which is the exact parallel to the amount of concrete used in the artificial riverbeds.

I understand that the sweat can smell badly and we live close to each other, especially in cities. On the other hand, the amount and smell of sweat depends on what we drink and eat, how our metabolism works, and how much stress we live in. If we focus more on these improvements, we don’t have to use devastating deodorants, but only light natural versions.

Emotions like sadness or regret require natural flow of tears to overcome difficult situation. But the common social habits often demand to hold tears back. Again, it is close to the parallel with concrete riverbeds. If you block the flow of tears for a long time, there is born a retention tank of emotions that will rupture in future for sure. And then all the pain pours at once.

Sleep is another good example inside the water element. Naturally we are set up to sleep at night, silence and darkness. In such conditions, the body really rests and gains enough strength for the next day. How many of us respect biological clocks and go to sleep with the sun? First I admit that I am a night creature and I don’t want to get up early in the morning. Even though I know it is bad, and it spoils my metabolism and water levels in my body. This is definitely my weakness.

But that’s not all yet. Night sleep should be in silence and in dark. But where to look for them, especially if we live in cities? Unfortunately we live in constant light and sound smog, so darkness and silence become unachievable ideals. And so the water element is spoiled a bit more every day, and thus our physical and emotional health. In the long-term it is definitely worth to invest in the light and soundproofed bedroom.

I prefer to stop with negative examples now and present a few positive tricks how to improve the quality of the water in our lives.

Dreaming is a nice quality inside of water element. And it could be a lucid dreaming even though it seems very useless. Fantasy is an eternal ally of water, so use it as much as possible. You can start with drawing or painting, let be inspired by fantasy rather than reality. No matter of the outcome, the process is beneficial.

Being alone and in silence is always a tool for harmonizing the water element in your life. Therefore, prayer, meditation and relaxation techniques are so effective.

And how about influence of the previous elements?

Fire and water are of course opposites. But the life needs both of them. Water is quiet environment, which needs to get a fiery spark to create a fetus. Water represents woman, waiting for male (fiery) sperm. And do you remember that Air represents socializing? If a man and a woman socialize well, then they create a new life.

Frequent topic is the relation between emotions and mind, i.e. water and air. Take real elements for help. If you don’t saturate water with oxygen enough, your water environment would be dead, even it has appropriate temperature (fire). So using only emotions without oxygen of our minds doesn’t keep us alive. Then we could tend to stay alone, dreaming, without connection to other people. So much water takes the life spark out and we become more dead than alive.

In the case of too much oxygen in water you can see big bubbles, so the water looks more like soda water full of wild whirlwinds, where isn’t even one quiet thing. This is a parallel of overestimated mind and underestimated emotions, which means a stressful life without rest.

And both examples above worked with appropriate temperature. Imagine there is not enough fire, so the water becomes ice. And this represents situation, when emotional person doesn’t put fire into the water. From warm feelings, hardness or even cruelty become.

And that’s why we should maintain balance among the elements. Sometimes is useful to implement small tricks and so to change the sequence of other events.

Next, I will speak about the Earth and the mutual influence with previous elements.

With love,

Ivana

In case you missed Playing with the Elements, Part 2 – AirPlaying with the Elements, Part 1 – Fire

 

Playing with the Elements, Part 2 – Air

Imagine the real air. What qualities does it have? First, it’s invisible. Second, you cannot touch it. It’s all around us and can even expand if we give it space. It’s in constant motion, never stops. So, where to look for the air parallel in our lives inside of the 4-element system?

Our mind if full of thoughts that are invisible and we cannot physically touch them. They are definitely moving constantly and sometimes they even expand exponentially. So, our thoughts belong to the element of Air. And if we talk about pollution in case of the real air, we should talk about pollution of our mind as well.

What can pollute our mind? All the useless information we often starve for! Living in the information era, we are obsessed with information and we often forget to put filters in order to keep our mind clear and healthy. Never ending stress on production and/or consumption of information is the most dangerous source of pollution in the segment of Air.

How to reduce it? Breathing and exercise (which leads to better breathing) are good ways how to clean the mind, and both belong to the Air as well. There is a wide range of breathing exercises, some of them are very aerobic, but you can be successful even with the quiet ones, based on yoga for example. Or you can walk regularly. Especially when you walk in nature, it’s a good way how to clean your mind and reduce the information overpressure.

I believe that is what you are exactly doing already. Perhaps you just didn’t realize it was compensation inside of the Air’s element.

Talking is a very similar issue. Communication also belongs to the Air, as well as all the social bonds. If we tend to overwhelm our lives by talking either in a virtual or in real world, we simply need some physical exercise again. We need to move and breathe.

If we want to achieve a balance across all the elements, we need to learn how to identify them in our lives. So, what else belongs to the Air?

All kind of invisible waves meets the condition of being invisible, untouchable and in constant motion. The sound is a good example. If you think your place is too noisy, go outside or anywhere to the silence. Breathe deeply.

The same definition and solution is valid for the electromagnetic waves. They can pollute your inner Air system and cause damage. We cannot do much, but we have to count with these omnipresent waves in total sum.

Finally, I would like to mention cooperation with the previous element. Let’s go back to the real air, for better imagination. The air is a good tool to keep the fire alive. Breathing to the fire is a way how to wake up the flames. On the other hand, too much of air means a danger for the fire. You can either kill it or spread it out of control. And that’s why is important to keep the Air in reasonable limits.

Too much thinking, talking, collection of useless information, being in noisy places or in places with huge density of electromagnetic waves can kill your joy, laugh, excitement and even your vitality. Or it could spread sparkles of your interest into million directions, so you became lost.

The Air, as well as the Fire, is a good tool, but dangerous master.

Next, I will speak about the Water and the influence of the Air and the Fire to the Water.

With love,

Ivana

In case you missed  Playing with the Elements, Part 1 – Fire

Walnut tree: Faithful and Reliable Friend

Walnut tree (Juglans regia) is a friendly tree, living close to people and having its own brain. How to call the nuts and their specific shape otherwise? I see them as small brains, enclosed in hard shells just as human brain is locked in the skull. Additionally, consumption of walnuts brings great benefits especially to our brain.

Even though I am excited walnut consumer, I mostly harvest walnut leaves for further processing. I like the young ones, still soft and little bit brown with intensive unmistakable aroma. They are the promise of all that a massive tree is preparing for that year.

Basic energy of them is warm. I sense it like warm arms of a friend, always ready for hug to make you comfortable. It calms your nerves because you suddenly feel better, more secure. As if somebody lights a fireplace in the middle of winter storm.

And because walnut leaves have a repellent capability, you can be more secure with them even in physical reality.

The most common use of walnut leaves is a tea. I like the specific taste and my blood vessel appreciates the effects. However it is still warming herb, so don’t drink it in such a tropical weather as we have in these days with us.

I love to make and use herbal soaps with walnut leaves because of their almost chocolate color and high skin care ability, which perfectly works also for problematic skin with itchy eczema or fungi. Even in the intimate area!

In the form of homemade salve or ointment, walnut leaves help with similar skin diseases. Among other herbs, I do use walnut leaves for the foot care. Why? First of all, the warming effect is mostly desirable. Second, adstringent effect helps reduce sweating. Last but not least, there is the evergreen of antifungal components, which might be a great prevention too.

There is much more left about walnut, I would appreciate your opinion and/or experience.

With love, Ivana