When I first moved to Boston I felt like a country girl in the big city. I’d traveled and lived in several places before, and even had an extended stay in the megacity of Mexico, D.F., but moving to Boston was different. I was here to stay, to find work, and to be able to afford the cost of living. Boston was my initiation into urban living.
There are so many things that I love about Boston and that first entranced me all those years ago. But the one thing that I did miss – and still do miss – is the lack of natural open spaces, forests and wild places.
So I found consolation in a different sort of wildness: in untamed, weedy plants that sprout up in the neglected areas of town. Of all of these – the dandelions, chickweeds, shepherd’s purses and burdocks that I came to know and love – mugwort was the one to capture me the most.
I’ve written before about mugwort and the medicinal uses it holds. But when I first made acquaintances with this graceful creature I had no idea about all of this. I just loved the beautiful shape of the plant, the silvery leaves, the height to which it can grow, and it’s peaceful stature as it sways in the wind, or in the passing rumble of a train.
I used to walk one particular route that always led me past a population of mugwort. It was an unpleasant stretch to walk through, and the mugwort always provided a glimpse of beauty and grace with its silvery green glow.
Now, years later, mugwort is one of my favorite plant allies. But the funny thing is, I don’t often use it for medicinal uses. That is, I don’t often ingest the plant. I like to have mugwort hanging in bundles around my house to make wreaths and dried arrangements with. I like to hang some near my bedside to invite in dreams when I sleep. Rarely do I make tea with it, but when I do it feels very special indeed, as if I get to commune with an old friend.
Here’s a lovely tea that I like to make after dinner to help wind down before bed-time.
1 part linden
1 part lemon balm
½ part oat tops
¼ part mugwort
small pinch of lavender
Let steep for at least 15 minutes. Sip mindfully and breathe in the vapor of the tea, and see if you don’t have a very deep night’s sleep, with dreams that you remember the next day…