A Solstice Miracle!

Lavender hydrosol chillin in my basket.

Lavender hydrosol chillin in my basket.

Let me tell you a story.

I am a winter baby, born in the pre-Solstice darkness of the early days of December -- a true Charcoal Soul (that's what I call winter babies). I live for the Inward Spiral, and Winter Solstice is my favorite holiday.

Every year, between my birthday and Winter Solstice, I go on a 4-day solo retreat to a cabin in the mountains. 

The cabin has no electricity or running water -- just a wood stove, some bunk beds, a table, and a giant window. I bring as little as possible -- no books (so I don't get distracted) and food that I don't have to cook (a loaf of bread, a block of cheese, croissants, and SO.MANY.BEVS.)

I look forward to this retreat all year. It's my birthday gift to myself. 

I spend the days reflecting on the year past, dreamweaving, and setting intentions for the year ahead. I ask how my life is and where I want it to go. I journal, pull cards, play with my crystals, stare at the fire, rest. 

It's the best thing ever and I highly, highly recommend that you do it. 

This winter, the day before my retreat, I started to feel ill. I got the scratchy throat, sore gums, and cold emptiness in my chest that foretells a fever. (I had watched my toddler nephew the weekend prior. Mistake).

Undaunted, I filled the bed of my pickup with firewood, packed my journals, stopped at the bakery, and drove to the mountains. 

As I drove, my right eye started to feel itchy and weird. Weirdness turned to graininess turned to goopiness turned to truly disgusting goopiness turned to having trouble seeing from it. The closer I got, the worse my eye got. Then my left eye started gooping, too. 

I pulled into the cabin site well after dark, mildly feverish and barely able to see out of my eyes. 

I knew there were many things to do: search for herbs, make an infusion, make a compress -- anything. But all this was dependent upon first building a fire in the stove to heat the water. 

I accepted the fact that I likely had pink eye and would need to find a doctor in the area the next morning (I guess?) and thus chunk away my precious retreat dealing with doctors and pharmacies and.... I really did not want that. 

My retreat was in peril. Surely I had something with me that could help. 

I hadn't brought any herbs that would actually be helpful in this situation -- my bev focus had been on spicy chais, earl grey, coffee, and roasty herbal coffee substitutes. Not exactly safe-for-mucous-membranes material. 

After rummaging through my few bags, knowing I would be unsuccessful, I rummaged through the one container that might yield magical serendipitous aid, the one container that I didn't "pack" but just slid into its rightful place on the passenger seat of my pickup truck -- my basket. 

My basket is my herbalist-farmer equivalent of a purse or backpack -- the container that can hold my food, snacks, wallet, snacks, harvesting shears, scattered detritus, and -- most importantly -- an array of bevs, all upright, all within reach while driving. 

The basket, with its scattered and mysterious contents, was my only hope. 

I toss random first aid supplies, chapsticks, bug sprays, mace -- anything that might be useful -- into the basket, and it bumps around in there until I clean the basket out every few months or so. You know how it goes. 

I held my kerosene lamp over the basket, dug my hand into its depths, and my fingers closed around something I had tossed in a few weeks prior -- a white yarrow hydrosol from Linda. 

Linda Shanahan, the farmer and herbalist of Barefoot Botanicals, had gifted me the hydrosol when I bought some wholesale herbs from her farm. She's kind like that. 

At Barefoot Botanicals, they grow the herbs AND distill them into hydrosols right on the farm. Amazing. 

I knew that white yarrow was an excellent herb for any excess weepiness, or, in this case, eye goop. What I didn't know was whether a hydrosol was safe to be spraying in my eyes. But I was desperate.   

I sprayed the hydrosol on my closed eyes. It feel cooling, relieving. I sprayed more. Then went back to starting the fire.

A few minutes later, I sprayed again, and since it only felt good and didn't hurt, I grew more bold and sprayed it in my open eyes. 

The hydrosol felt amazing: cooling and soothing. 

Every ten minutes, I sprayed my eyes, then went back to setting up the cabin. 

Within an hour, my eyes had stopped gooping. 

And by the time I went to bed, they were considerably less inflamed. I thought I would wake up to eyes gooped shut, but I didn't... well, I mostly didn't.

The end of this dark-and-stormy Solstice saga is that the white yarrow hydrosol saved the day, and I was able to stay at my retreat and reflect and enjoy and drink all the spicy bevs I brought. 

It was a Solstice miracle!

White yarrow in all its anti-goop glory

White yarrow in all its anti-goop glory