Happy news! I just signed the contract to write three more Amish women’s fiction novels set in Lancaster County, PA, featuring a dokterfraa, or female herbal healer. The research curve in writing Amish books is pretty steep, and writing about a herbalist for the Healing Grace series makes it even steeper. But guess what—when you’re talking about medicinal plants and gardening and getting close to the soil, research gets really interesting.
Take chickweed, for instance. Yes, I know, that stuff that grows all over the place with the small leaves, leggy moist stems, and tiny white flowers. The stuff that I pull out in handfuls to feed the chickens … because they’re not stupid. They know a good thing when they see it! My instructor, Paula Grainger, loves it because of its medicinal qualities, especially for skin irritations like sunburn.
So the other week, when I’d spent the whole day in the sun on a herb walk with my herbal class, I had sunburn on both arms. So I did what Paula said: I squished up a big handful of chickweed in my hands until it was good and moist, and rubbed the liquid over the sunburn on one arm. It smelled nice—a bit like a fresh lawn, which is a smell I like—and lo and behold, the burn and redness went away. On the other arm, which I’d left alone, it took a couple of days for the redness and burning sensation to go away.
Chickweed. Who knew (besides the chickens)?