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"I found a sweet elder tree with TONS of berries that are starting to ripen!" writes Sono-Ma Karla Gormley to our craft circle.

Next day, our kids happily gathered up buckets and baskets, while we loaded the bike stroller and prepared for a walk on a trail near Karla’s house. These kids are their nature loving mamas’ children, anxious to find wild treats as we were!

Little did we know we’d discover elderberries, grapes, and blackberries on our short walk on the outskirts of a Windsor subdivision. Like the little gnomes in Children of the Forest, our kids listened to our cautions about what to eat, touch, or leave alone- all the while learning lessons about the wild world we hope they’ll hold onto for life.

The elder tree was loaded with berries! With a couple of three-year-olds and a one-year-old babe, we did some quick picking before they lost interest. As we picked bushels, we talked about our plans to make natural home remedies for winter colds and sore throats. Bryles and I started this process by putting a healing basket together including his warm bear, Epson salts (good for family foot baths – see Mothering Magazine May June 2009 article and this inspired group), salves we made last summer, and a few other herbal or homeopathic concoctions. These elderberries will be a key ingredient in my “wellness” drops – a recipe by Rosemary Gladstar or this recipe I found at "Home Grown Farming."  These tried and true serums have been used by wise women for centuries, but are finding a new place in my home...


There are many lessons we can stand to learn from the women in our past and current lives. A mother of aged-twenty something children chatted with Karla and I as we all plucked blackberries today. This mother talked about her lovely children who went away on young adult adventures, but recently found their way back into her nest for short reprieves from life’s stresses. She eyed our young children throwing rocks, squealing for more berries, and generally surrounding us in a flurry of activity. She reminisced on her earlier days of mothering three children under four years old.


I asked this experienced mother to share her stories on Sono-Ma.  Many younger mothers search for the wisdom of those who’ve made it to her stage of mothering adult children. She hesitated and said that she doesn’t talk about the hard times of parenting.

Why not? Karla and I sometimes enter a virtual confession stall and admit that we find mothering a challenge (to say the least.) Both of us have shared that we’ve felt inadequate next to other mothers who seem to sail through sleepless nights and continue to dote on their children with the utmost of patience. I’ll go ahead and admit that lots of times I feel overwhelmed, over needed, under slept, consumed by back pain, and filled with an urge to run away to hide! I constantly write this letter in my head, “Dear Mom. You had five children, and made it seem like you loved every minute of mothering. What was your secret?”

I don’t know if the wise woman we met will share her stories, but I hope she will! Mothering is all things: sweet, awful, fulfilling, draining, the best and the worst. I need more stories about some of the down and dirty to learn how to balance myself.  Are their other moms who hit lows and highs?  Please share!

*Note:  elderberries are not edible unless processed in a tincture or cooked - do not let your children eat them raw.

2 comments

  1. Brian // August 18, 2009 at 6:29 AM  

    Great story, LOVED IT!

  2. frog-mom.com // August 25, 2009 at 2:56 PM  

    Such a sweet story. I discovered your book shopping list and I just love Sybille van Olfers' series. They look fantastic. 1906, really? I keep opening the pages of your book list and I don't think there's a single one I wouldn't like to read. Great list. As for elderberries, you'll have to show me what they look like and what I can do with them. I love elderberry flower syrup but not sure it's the same tree.

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