I gave an Earth Pathways 2013 Diary to each of my apprentices at the end of last year. It’s a rich, inspiring and beautiful publication, created by a wise group of environmentalists, artists, writers and activists. The diary contains key information and creative ideas for urban and rural herbologists alike. I highly recommend it.
Last week, I noticed that the willows of my local Amsterdam park had been coppiced. So, I took my secateurs back to the park and “harvested” a small bundle of fresh withies from the pile I found on the ground. This made little impact on the pile, which had clearly been left to fill the gap in a bramble thicket, beside a small lake.
Page 60 of the Earth pathways diary contains a description by my mentor Glennie Kindred, of how to turn willow or dogwood stems into a useful herb drying rack. It took about 40 minutes of peaceful bending and weaving, with my two year old playing broomsticks around me, to create my version of the willow rack. I’m pleased with it and imagine it threaded with flowers and least stems in a grew months time. Because my withies were quite short, I made a double outer “circle”. This strengthened it considerably and it resulted in a pleasing teardrop shape. For now it hangs on my living room wall and reminds me of my years living in Somerset. Willow weaving seems just as satisfying in the middle of a city.
I love handling willow and using it as a herbal ally. I find far less taste of salicylic salts, in the tendrils at this time of year but it’s gentle, flexible spirit shines through and I’m sure it will impart something special to my drying herbs come spring and summer. Thank you Glennie and Earth Pathways, for your continuing inspiration!