It’s Springtime - The Red-Winged Blackbird is Here

Catskills Comfrey_ Bird.png

Here it is, mid-February - and there’s no snow on the ground. I have a ¼ mile trail that loops the upper pasture - and I do a near-daily walk of four laps to do a mile (18 ½ minutes, if you’re wondering) - and one ‘edge’ is adjacent to the large, raised beds of comfrey. If you are using Catskills Comfrey, the dried leaves came from these plants.

I often throw a “let’s grow!” greeting to the comfrey as I pass by - they hear me through the snow cover. But this week, the snow had melted and the plants, covered with just the mulch and manure I had laid on them last fall, were exposed. Let’s take a look, methinks. It’s mid-February; comfrey grows in the very hardy climes of Russia.

I kneel down at one plant, scrape away the mulch - nothing. Another plant, same result. But after a slight ‘excavation’ of the third plant’s cover, I see the fresh tip of a comfrey spear pushing up. The young comfrey shoots are very distinctive, like a small knife blade rolled, with an inwardly-flared tip. It's visual music to my eager eyes.

The nearly two-week binge of non-stop single-degree weather in early January had been tough. The groundhog report I had seen said six more weeks of winter. But then I gained minor hope when my friend, David, said that “Well, there were seven other groundhogs who called it the opposite way.”.

The groundhog prediction is always a bit dubious. But just today, an hour ago, David called back and excitedly asked, “Have you seen the red-winged blackbird? They’re over here now feeding.”. David lives in the next valley, not far as the red-winged blackbird flies. David’s been watching them for nearly 40 years now and their arrival is the sure Spring signal in the Catskills - and confirms the seven groundhogs were right.

There WAS something in the air. I had, in fact, this morning, completed my Fedco order for this season’s seeds. It had been there as a daily reminder on my Pixel 2 for the past two months. Hey, do this!

This order has the calendula and arnica flowers that I will grow this summer, along with the comfrey, as the ‘active’ ingredients for ACCtion, the trifecta of anti-inflammatory beneficials - arnica, calendula, and comfrey.

But then I get an “all things must pass” reminder.

Remember, too, though, as spring circles forward again, be mindful of the now-passing winter - and those that finished their race. As in the birth of spring, there is the reckoning of harvest and completion in the winter.

A friend, John Gregg, died several weeks ago; I likened him to Hesse’s Siddhartha: he’d sit behind the counter in an old store in Andes NY - and be peaceful. I had known John for many years before I started Catskills Comfrey - and he responded favorably to the comfrey for his lower back pain, allowing him to more easily navigate the steep stairs from the upstairs in this old building to the shop below.

Paisley’s, John and Judy’s shop, was right there on Route 28 in Andes. It was easy to pull off when passing through - and offer up a “hello” and see if I could tease out a testimonial from him. John wrote a book about life in NYC - but I never could get him to write a testimonial. Did I need one? No - and I was glad that the comfrey had helped him.

The comfrey shoot assures me that as we have the persistent roots of the comfrey plant, roots that will not go away, we can live forward with the spirits, the thoughts of others, rooted forever in our own if we choose to let them in our garden and take root. It’s the amazing grace of life that the consequence of one’s spirit can become part of another’s - and make it healthier.

I'm looking forward to the new plantings of calendula and arnica flowers. They will take root, too, as John's spirit has placed small, but meaningful, roots in my own spirit - and grow to a healthy liaison with the existing comfrey. It's Spring - and time to take ACCtion.

Danielle Gaebel