Of the many fun things we’ve done this summer, one of my favorites was attending the Montana Herb Gathering. I planned to go alone, but when Henry was invited to film in Svalbard for three weeks, I got to take the kids. It turned out to be a great experience for them and Finn keeps asking when he gets to go to “plant camp” again. It makes my heart pitter patter.
“So what is an herb gathering,” you may be wondering. It’s 200 or so people who get together in an amazingly beautiful location to talk plants. It’s four days of workshops on medicinal uses of plants, essential oils, learning about overlooked native plants, how to run a plant-based business and more. It’s plant identification walks, learning to listen to plants, delicious plant-based meals (prepared by someone else!!), a botanical ball and new friends.
We got there late the first night since the boys had soccer camp that afternoon. By 10 p.m. we had the tent set up and were all snug in our bags. Then it started to rain. Really hard. And lots of lightning. It was so loud that I couldn’t fall asleep until after midnight. A couple hours later I was awoken by a lot of talking and moving around outside the tent. I was thinking that these herbalists were partiers and needed to hush up so this old lady could get some sleep.
Turns out there was a lightning strike fire right near camp. One person from each tent was asked to go up to the lodge for instructions. We’re 20 miles down a gravel road–the only way out to the little two lane highway–with 200 people and their cars. And I have two sleeping boys in a tent 100 yards from my car. They are not light, those boys. Do I grab them and get the heck out of there before everyone is trying to evacuate?
After about 30 minutes the rural firefighters told us to go to bed. They’d watch it, but didn’t expect it to flair up. It was still raining, thank goodness. I was so glad I didn’t wake the boys up.
The next morning we were unburned and ready to play. The boys stayed in the KidZone with the other kids and a few adults. They let me sneak Finn into the four and older group and he did great. They went on plant walks, did yoga, played, crafted and created a skit that they put on for everyone on Saturday night.
I got to listen to lectures, I.D. plants and sneak away and sit by the creek. If you know me, you know that’s my perfect day. The kids and I ate meals together and spent the evenings with each other and other families.
Now that we are back in the real world (I do love that hippy/plant nerd bubble) I’m trying to incorporate more herbs into our daily lives. We’ve collected bee balm for teas and service berries for jam. I’m studying up on medicinal uses of our local plants and planning some elder berry syrup for coughs and colds. Even Anders is in on it. Whenever he gets a bug bite he rushes off to find some “moist yarrow” to ease the itch. Pitter patter.