It was a lovely spot. It was built in the late 1800’s in the parking lot at the end of the block but in the 1970’s was taken down and rebuilt at the end of four circa 1800’s store fronts. Large windows with the cross window panes and old wooden floors, cracked and creaking, bead board on the bottom half of the walls, and high ceilings. It was spectacular.
We bartered medicine and a hundred bucks for the jeweler’s cases and instantly had a shop. I had bought a large (now my pantry cubbies) piece of furniture that held all the tincture bottles perfectly. We bought a hutch to put the beauty products in. Two rocking chairs for setting in and visiting rounded out the charming shop.
I stood on a wobbly ten foot ladder and hand painted our sign above the front door. We placed large pots of mums outside. We added rugs and classical music and opened.
Our farmer’s markets clients from all over came to see us. Our opening was a huge success. We almost instantly were in the press. The local papers did write ups on us as did the Denver Post. That was a huge boost for us. We stayed very busy in our little shop on Main street.
The yard behind the shop was a huge empty space. I envisioned an amazing Apothecary garden. Spirals and walkways of lovely plants. Bees dancing to and fro from medicinal flowers and educational walks through the garden. The owner of the entire building set had died rather suddenly. She had owned the toy store and antique store there for decades and her loss was felt throughout the community. When we moved into the shop it was shortly after her death and her husband was beside himself with grief. He did not venture to the shop. In fact, I did not meet him for another two years. The shops were his wife’s and they were a part of her memory. I was not able to change anything. No garden. Just leave it be.
It was like we had never done anything except for herbalism. We were naturals. I had been taught by a few medicine people very briefly that I had met here and there and all of them spoke of a grandmother of mine. Native American, Cherokee or Creek, their descriptions of her the same (even though none of them knew each other). She wore long skirts (like me) and was an herbalist in secret. Our family was given a gift of plant medicine knowledge. But when the Indian religions were outlawed, they had to practice healing in secret.
I was also told about my Celtic ancestry where the herbalists in my family were charged as witches. A trip down genealogy lane confirmed the places and names that I had been given. Multiple Native American grandmothers appeared in the documents. Fascinating. Herbalism is quite literally in my DNA. I know it so well. I used to plant dandelion seeds around the neighborhood as a small child and was always fascinated by flowers and plants. Once I started studying them, it came so quickly and so naturally that I just instinctually knew what to do. Show me an algebra problem, I have issues. Show me a broken wrist and I got this.
Doug is so empathetic that he cries at Folgers commercials (oh, I do hope he doesn’t get mad for me saying that) but he is very sensitive to folks’ suffering. He understands the science of the herbs. He enjoys harvesting side by side with me and watching people be well again. He is the business mind that can help me retrieve my email. He creates labels and logos, email lists, and keeps our books straight. I would be flitting around smelling roses all day. We are perfectly fit together for this job. A job that is much more than that. It is a lifestyle.
Wanting to be self sufficient encompasses so many aspects. Food, heat, water, shelter, and being able to take care of oneself. Plant medicine is essential wisdom for homesteaders. It goes hand in hand with everything we strive for and do.
But, I needed an apothecary garden. And, a real garden. Not a deer buffet! We were in need. Homesteaders pressing on the door for the next area to open. We needed a farm to grow our medicine and grow our food.
Meanwhile, money was missing from my purse, eggs were broken in my boots, and the landlord got a divorce….