The presence of yarrow growing among the Black-eye Susan, Hawkweed and Daisies reminds me of Grandpa Harley. His association with the herb didn't happen because he showed me the large flat-top flower clusters. In fact, this association came several years after his death. My love of family history and all things outdoors can be traced back to summers spent at "the farm" with my maternal grandparents. Both of my grandparents enjoyed sharing their childhood memories. I credit my grandmother (and my Mom) for giving me a love of reading but it was my grandfather who gave me the gift of all things outside my front door. Making maple syrup, harvesting hazel and butternuts, how to catch toads and frogs - but the most important lesson about being out in the woods ... keep still. When I am sitting on my deer stand or stopping to sit down "just because" - I can still here his voice, "Now keep still." I'm sure that is what his father or grandfather told him when he was a young boy. One of the many letters I received from him during some of the darkest days of his life, when my grandmother was being consumed by Alzheimer's, he shared a story from his childhood. While he and his brothers were "horsing" around, he fell and broke his arm. His dad was working out in the field and couldn't take grandpa to see the doctor, a 20 mile trip, until the next morning. His mother picked a bunch of yarrow, boiled it in water and used the mixture to bath his arm. In Homer's epic tale, the Iliad, the warrior Achilles uses the herb yarrow to bathe the wounds of his fallen comrades. According to other online sources, elements in yarrow accelerate the healing of cuts and bruises.
I've often wondered how many times during his lifetime did my grandfather see a yarrow plant blooming on the side of the road and think about that time when he was "horsing around" and broke his arm. His granddaughter certainly does.
"Yarrow." Digital Image. Text and photography Copyright (c) Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski 2013