There exists everywhere and always an unquestionable and omnipresent drive towards living. An inherent nature to thrive, for life to continue. So obvious in a wild forest, but not so clear in an American suburb. But this is the place I’m really integrating this truth into my being.
I’m currently looking out the window of a very established house, built on the outskirts on Indianapolis; air conditioned, mice free and a world away from our previous residency on the side of an Appalachian mountain. There we saw true wildness; black locusts leading the way for the maple and oaks that towered above us in their regal manner. It was there that goldenseal and nettles covered the ground, where life struck a cord of wildness; the untamed and ruthless. The veil between us and the wild was thin and painfully real. But here grass remains the blanket, replete with chemicals to keep it as green and clean as possible. It is here that houses are built to disconnect us from the rigors of nature. Here it is easy to forget we are a part a miraculous dance that shuffles through the season and is in constant flux between growth and decay.
But still the birds sing, the dandelions siphon calcium and break up the Earth on the edges where herbicides are not applied and the wild red mulberries yield in profusion. And yet the bird songs are drowned out by cars and lawn mowers, the dandelions are neglected and despised and the mulberries are left to ferment on the ground, staining the Earth with the rich and vibrant hues. It is here that my soul is awakened and I am reminded of what it means to be a child of the Earth.
After landing at this house and appreciating the comforts of modern civilizations like electricity and showers, I am drawn back to the natural world. The mulberries beckon to be picked and enjoyed, the leaves yearn to be dried and infused into tea. I cannot help but be reminded of the sweetness of life when in a space such a this, like so many other in suburban America. The drive for life to evolve and thrive is so strong that even in a controlled and sterilized place like this where poison peddlers knock on doors soliciting their pest control services, there exist delicious foods and medicines.
Earlier in the season garlic mustard and onion grass were offering themselves, calling to be used to stimulate latent energies in my body. The dandelion greens were protruding on the edges of untended domains, a beacon of hope for healthy livers and soils. Now at the peak of summer the mulberries play polka dots among the various nitrogen fixing pioneers on the edges of the domestic lawns, looking more like a battle field in a fight against nature.
I see the sweet and tart fruits as messengers, bringing a message of connection and vitality in the face of any situation. The red mulberry ( morus rubra ) tress are widely distributed in their native home of Eastern North America, thought of as weedy or invasive species. But what are they doing here? I believe thet are here to support the growth of life; providing a healing food for birds and humans alike.
The vibrant color of the berries speak of a high potency berry. Edible yes, but also a great for dying. Boasting high amounts of vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants such as anthocyanins and resveratrol, and smaller amounts of flavonoids antioxidant such as lutein, ß-carotene, zea-xanthin. As a team these antioxidants scavenge the body in search of free radicals and carcinogens, tone our blood vessels, reduce inflammation, slow aging and reduce the risk of cancer and a variety of other diseases. As little as 100 g of berries provide 61% of our RDI vitamin C, while also providing a very good source of iron and vitamin K.
The leaves are even more prolific than the berries, and dry easily. They brew up into a very mineral dense nourishing and tasty tea, great for balancing blood sugar levels and lowering blood pressure.
So here I am reflecting on the beauty of nature and the miracles of Mother Earth. How easy it can be to forget within city limits, or the amorphous form of the suburbs, that there is a divine life process at play. Being brought back daily to the offering of our Earth Mother. Just earlier today when picking mulberries, a black walnut tree called to me. The fruits are swelling into potential, exuding a paradoxically citric sweetness and repugnant odor. There are not quite ready to be made into an anti-parasitic medicine, but soon enough…
What these few days have reminded me of is the of course-ness of place, that wherever I am, there is nature. Nature is not something any one of us can escape, but rather something that has an urge to growth within each one of us. The offerings are diverse and abundant, and it takes a shift of perspective for us to realize what we have before its gone. The Earth is calling us to open our eyes, minds and hearts to the gifts that are already here. Will you answer?
” So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole Earth ” – Baha’u’llah