Herbs work in all seasons – both in the seasons of nature and in the seasons of our lives. There to support us in the unique challenges our bodies face each season – the allergies of spring, summer’s heat, winter’s colds – herbs work with us year round. In the seasons of our lives, herbs are much the same: providing distinct comforts for each age. Just as growth begins in spring, we have the spring of our lives as babies, leafing out into the adolescents of summer, and passing through the adulthood of fall and into winter’s elders.
In spring as we become more active, herbs are there to help with bitter tonics, giving our livers and digestion a tune up. They are there, also, helping us through the peak season for allergies. Babies benefit from herbs for colicky tummies and teething troubles, and herbs nurture little ones in the gentle ways that set a foundation for health. Spring is the beginning – both where we begin, and where nature puts down roots, unfurls seeds, and begins to pick up pace.
Herbs help us enjoy our vitality in the most active season of the year, summer. Herbs comfort our skin when we have had too much sun, while refreshing plants like mint and hibiscus help our body adapt to the warmer weather. Lemon balm and lavender are equally as refreshing, and there are many kitchen herbs that are at their peak in summer. Herbs walk with children through their summer of childhood illness, sleep troubles, anxiety and the emotional and hormonal turmoil of adolescence. Growing is hard, as the seed of potential unfurls and pushes bravely toward the sun of our innate talents and gifts.
In fall, herbs work with us to build up our immune reserves for winter. They can be used to shore up our circulation to prepare for the colder weather. As adults, herbs are there to comfort body and mind as we strive for physical and emotional goals that seem just beyond our reach; as we build families, as our bodies ready themselves for the next stage of our journey. The fall is harvest time – the end of summer brings many flowers and leaves into their prime, and then it is time for the roots. The plants focus on readying for winter, concentrating their energy and attention into their roots, knowing that patience and stamina will see them through the winter.
Herbs work in winter, even though plants lie sleeping under snow and branches are bare against the stark sky. Our harvests become extracts and teas that pull us through the long dark days and nurse our lungs through coughs and colds. They are our companions during this restful and introspective time. Warming spices keep away the chill, while rosehips and elderberry cheer us with vitamin C and looking forward to the summer to come. As elders, herbs help us keep our memories bright as sparks within our hearts, and help us keep our hearts strong within us. Herbs bless us with grace as our bodies learn new rhythms and find strength in wisdom and the steadiness of pace that comes with time.
Herbs work because they are part of the cycle, a pattern of green life that begins and peaks and renews itself with the changing seasons. Their resilience in returning year after year, unaided by anything but their innate sense of timing, is a gift that we can all learn from. The message is to trust our instincts, to trust our lives to unfold beautifully and with purpose. They show us what it really means to trust that the timing is right and to move gracefully and effortlessly from one stage to another, bearing our gifts in the fullness of each stage, maintaining balance within the constantly shifting natural world and the ebb and flow of living. Herbs work in their vibrant, unspoken wisdom – in all seasons, for all ages.
No matter what stage of our lives we are experiencing, it is never too early or too late to learn about the amazing plants that work with us for better health. Here at the Herbal Academy of New England, we take pride in our online herbal learning courses for adults, and the beautiful, members-only online resource we call The Herbarium. We even have a wonderful herbal learning series for children available for free on our blog! If you are looking for an herbal school to begin or continue your studies, we would love for you to come learn with us here at the Academy.