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Medicine, Rising to Meet the Rain

The breeze this morning had an edge to it — autumn at August’s own dawn. Even so, the mercury will likely pass ninety again today, unseasonably high for this distinctly unrainy rainy season.

Right now, the clouds are amassing to the north. Even their patterns have shifted, and drastically so. A year or two ago, the storms would have come almost entirely from the west-southwest, merely circling around from . north and east once they hit the temporary barrier of the peaks. Now, they originate from the northeast more often than their opposite, and while they mostly carry nothing far enough to reach us, when they do, the storms are often more violent.

This is climate change in our world: record drought, punctuated only rarely but by ever more extreme weather.

So little has grown this summer, so much has begun its autumnal die-off already. It makes what has survived this season all the more valuable.

In our way, plants are not merely aesthetic, not simply ornamental nor even fundamentally utilitarian. They are animated by spirit, their own spirits, autonomous and sovereign; they are food and medicine and even art, yes, but they are also our relatives. They require our care and consideration, our honor and respect.

So far, the only plant that seems to be thriving in this summer of extremis is red willow — unsurprising, perhaps, given that it is what gives this land its name, and this land’s people, too. It is as indigenous as life in this harshly beautiful place gets, and it has risen to the occasion as it always does, tall and strong, bright green leaves like fringes outstretched from red bodies in a full embrace.

The weeping willows are not faring near so well, nor the aspens or cottonwoods. We will know better the fates of the evergreens when winter comes, if it comes at all. Save a few berries and half-dozen wild sunflowers, the rest of the plants are mostly lost to us for (at least) another year.

Still, the clouds move steadily inward, holding out the hope that the rains might defy the forecast after all. If so, the earth will be ready to greet them. So, too, will the leafing and flowering species, those of our relatives who shade and shelter us, who feed us, who heal us. Those, in point of fact, who find their shapes and spirits honored in today’s featured work. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

Medicine Flowers Cuff Bracelet

Flowers heal us, body and spirit, and teach us that beauty is medicine. Wings combines two patterns in this hand-milled textured cuff to create a bracelet of medicine flowers: petals and rain, shadows and light, all evoking a ’60s Flower Power vibe. The lines are laid down first, long slender columns in a positive/negative alternating pattern, studded here and there with raindrops. Above the lines, stylized daisy and sunflower petals blossom and dance.. The band is buffed to a soft Florentine finish, and stretches 6.5″ long by 1-1/8″ across (dimensions approximate). Other views shown above and below.

Sterling silver
$535 + shipping, handling, and insurance

The flowers that blossom across the band in such abundance remind me of daises, perhaps with a touch of zinnia in the shaping of their petals. We have a few daisies here growing wild; black-eyed Susans, too. Even the asters, as purple as the desert twilight, have been cropping up here and there since late May or early June, far too early and in too few numbers to thrive.

However few their number, all of the wildflowers, like their red willow cousins and the trees that tower above them, remain a gift. We recognize that and honor it; many of them are, after all, healers in their own right, even if we dare not harvest them in such a fragile habitat now. But we work to keep them thriving, no matter the heat or the drought, in hopes that they will rebound next year.

It is comforting, in its way, to know that the possibility of their surviving and thriving still exists. As the clouds move in and our world goes increasingly gray, we pray: for the water, for the plants, for their medicine, rising to meet the rain.

And we hope, and wait, and work.

~ Aji









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