I had been contacted by a friend in Arcata several months ago to help get the word out about a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) course in Orleans, CA in June. The reason this course was so special, she said, was that it was geared for herbalists, activist, and homesteaders. Wow, I’d wanted to take one of these courses, and this seemed like the one. It was being put on by MASHH (Medicine for all seeking Health and Healing, but it used to mean Medicine for Activists Seeking Herbal Healing), so I knew it was good!
Two days before the course, as I was wrapping things up with the Village Building Convergence in Portland, I solidified a partial work-trade with the folks at MASHH. What a great opportunity! On top of it all, it was being hosted at Sandy Bar Ranch – a permaculture homestead/resort right on the Klamath River.
I had been voicing to people how I had been missing the structure of schooling (like the forced reading and time in class) so this came at a perfect time. Be careful what you wish for, I guess, because we were in class all day and had plenty of readying every night.
Even though I originally got into tea because of the social atmosphere it created, I was pretty quickly forced to understand that I had much to learn about herbs in the medicinal realm. Slowly throughout the years I have learned a thing or two, but just within the last year or two I decided I needed more. And not just in the tea realm either. Because Edna the tea bus is a little house on wheels, she becomes a hub, a hearth – whether it’s on the street, at an event, on a homestead, etc. This means that people come to the bus often with scrapes, stings, allergies, cramps, headaches, and more. I’ve also seen things like breaks and concussions that I couldn’t do anything about.
A little while back I got a nice first aid kit, and recently I got some tincture donations from Mountain Rose Herbs and Wish Garden Herbs, as well as supplies and a natural medicine book for travelers from my dear friend Peggy. As my medical kit has been growing, so has my desire to fill my head with medical knowledge. I decided that helping people with their health is part of my mission, whether it was with teas, tinctures, band-aids, splints or advice.
I can’t imagine a better way to have further introduction to healing people. Our teacher, Laurel, is an herbalists and EMT. We learned body system basics, were hammered to learn patient assessment, and had hands on time with bloody, bruised, broken, and sick patients (all make believe, but nevertheless…). Greta (who organized the course and is the backbone of MASHH) and Laurel also introduced us to many herbal remedies, whether it be things we could find along the way, or preparations to pack in our first aid kits.
It was my pleasure to take photos for MASHH, provide and prepare large quantities of tea, arise early to help with breakfast and lunch prep, share my food bounty, provide miscellaneous resources, and fix things as they needed fixing. Thanks to Greta and MASHH for the opportunity to do this work for the course.
Because of the way the course was advertised (for herbalists, activists, and homesteaders), it attracted a good slew of folks, from nurses to activists to outdoors enthusiasts. I feel so blessed to have been able to spend ten days with the amazing variety of good folks who were there.
The end of the course was marked by a Kava tea party, hosted by fellow WFR Max, where we all shared a word that reflected our time at the course. As tea parties do, it was a great way to share some things with each other as to why our time there was important, what we got out of it, how we hoped to share it in our lives, etc. Thanks Max for hosting this…
Another great connection was made, too, with Tina who owns Crimson Sage Nursery just a few doors down from Sandy Bar Ranch. She used to live on Orcas Island, so we rapped about the islands. We rapped about plants. We rapped about the tea bus. She was so excited about the tea bus that she let me take some photos for her website/catalogue in exchange for a few plants (two Camellia Sinensis, a Lemongrass, and a Chamomile). She also let me cut down a bunch of Catnip, Lemon Balm, Vervain, and Mint that was growing freely around her nursery, which I dried for tea. What a great and generous woman! Thanks, Tina!