Next time you get harassed by mosquitos, look around for some plantain. It is shown here. Just be sure the leaves have noticeable spines. Chew up one leaf and press it onto your bite. Guaranteed the bite will disappear within minutes. I used my body for the experiment. The plantain-soaked bites–poof! Those ones left alone are still red and itchy.
Last weekend, the New England Women’s Herbal Conference reminded me of why I cozy up to my house plants and go to Central Park when I’m in a funk. This is plant medicine and I think it’d be nice if we made it more prevalent in our lives. You don’t have to live in the far pristine lands of Alaska or Belize to benefit from plants. You also don’t have to be obsessed (like me) with this topic. As one elderly herbalist so wisely put, “This isn’t for the chosen few; this for everyone.” It’s our birthright. I can walk into most New York City parks and find plantain. If you live anywhere in the world near a sidewalk, the cure-all dandelion also pokes up at you from the cracks.
But I’m most intrigued by how this message can reach a broad swath of people. Not just hippies. Not just potion-brewing mamas. Not just city bohemians trying to look cool. If a businessman on his way to Wall Street started chewing on plantain for his bee sting, I would do a wild celebratory jig. If a gun-toting gang-member made plantain her friend, my smile would spread up to my ears. Unfortunately, the knowledge hasn’t quite hit the grapevine and I think it’s a language thing.
Why do languages isolate us? Continue reading
It’s 6:30 a.m. here in Buffalo, and my dog can’t sleep, so I can’t sleep. Ever heard an 180 lb dog whine? It’s not quiet. And rather than groan and attempt to ignore, about an hour ago I began to obsess over the fact that we have friends and family visiting in three waves this week and how will the seven of them feel about waking up to the sound of an orka at 5:00 am?
There’s also a toilet in the front yard. (Having lived in Buffalo for about 3 weeks, we followed the leader down the street and misunderstood that our bulk trash pickup was Sunday. It’s in October.)
And a bed that was supposed to be delivered in time for the arrival of these guests has been delayed. All this with a kitchen rehab underway might be the source of the prehistoric beast’s whining. I know in my heart of hearts, having been a guest many times, that people visit other people to see those people– not to sleep in or even to sleep in a bed. But my gene pool screams for the chance to make people feel at home.
Before making the long run to the Canadian line Interstate 95 cuts east across Maine’s midsection. Along this beltline near Bangor there’s a famous truck stop called Dysart’s. Continue reading
What more can I say today than happy 30th birthday to my husband, Christopher Vu Mai Gandin Le? He is one of the deepest, most joyful examples of beauty in this world. His wild generosity with the people he loves and respects, his compassion for those he doesn’t even know, his cellular-level instincts to make the world better and safer for everyone, his unabashed love for movies about overcoming adversity through dance/cheerleading/sports/etc…
This man was clearly put on this planet to bring light, which he does every day. And I get to hang out, laugh, celebrate, and co-conspire with him while he does. I feel blessed.
Happy birthday, Vu! Your thirties are here. It is ON.
Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.
I’m in Santa Fe spending time with my family, laying in a hammock reading Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety, going on hikes that snake through Aspen groves and Pinon trees, eating lots of cheese. So I just give you this today, a picture I took when I was here last winter:
Remember that school that banned kickball last year? Now we’ve got a Little League that won’t let a nine-year-old kid pitch because he’s too good. Is this really a problem, parents? Worst to worst, your kids will get to say they batted against a future major leaguer. And it’s not like the kid is pulling a Danny Almonte on us. (Remember him? The 14-year-old that pitched a perfect game pretending to be 12? This ESPN.com feature is a great follow-up.)