• 46°

Apologies for the tremendous case of déjà vu 

Old Ways of Dark Coner 

If you searched for my Old Ways column last month, and found an attractive, two-page layout with a striking masthead declaring more Twice-told Tales of the Dark Corner, you may have felt an overwhelming case of déjà vu. 

Having published the 150th of such tales and completing a second book of them entitled, The Rest of Dark Corner’s Twice-told Tales, some two years ago, I went one step beyond “dv”—nightmare. Twice-tolds are finished. Any newer tales that may be  published will carry a different adjective as a description. 

But then, the headline did declare “Homestead pollinators produced a sweet and medicinal product” and I breathed easier. The title did not sound like a tale; it sounded more like a discussion of honey bees which, in fact, the column was. 

For those of you who read the entire column, here are additional addenda 

First, I’m convinced that the honey recipe which friend “Buddy” Williams shared with me that day is beginning to make a difference in the pain level of my arthritisI’ve had no pain medication as a sleep aid in the last week of physical therapy. 

Secondly, I’ve noticed several honey bees under foot in the past weeks as dozens of small, low growing wildflowers have been blooming along with our showy pink peach blossoms. 

One of the tiniest flowers on which I have seen a couple of bees is the white flower of Chickweed that Juanita and her guest were discussing as I arrived for the Honey Bee Expo 

It’s only about a quarter-inch across, star shaped with five petals, and appears in the very upper leaves. It’s also a “sleeper,” which means it opens at mid-morning on sunny days and may not open at all on cloudy ones. 

This ubiquitous ground covering is another plant that has been carried by European immigrants to every country in the world. It is loved by folks who have discovered its wide variety of uses as food and as a medicinal herb for internal and external application, and is hated by dedicated flower gardeners who consider it a noxious, crawling weed that demands elimination. 

Its very common name was conferred because young chickens and small birds love it, as they eagerly eat the tiny leaves and seeds. It is quite edible by human beings and some health food devotees eat it virtually every day for overall health maintenance. They can do so because it is available most of the year. 

It is mixed with other wild or household herbs and leafy greens in a bodacious green smoothie. Occasionally, the broth left from cooked greens is also added to the green mixture. Many people insist their regular consumption of this vitamin and mineral loaded drink helps them maintain a healthy immune system. 

Chickweed is also eaten raw in tossed salads and served as a cooked vegetable, sometimes being added to other fresh greens, sometimes replacing spinach in a meal. It is not a true replacement because spinach has a more natural, vibrant flavor. 

Eating boiled Chickweed and drinking its broth has been held as a cure for obesity for generations by some families in the Appalachian mountains. Perhaps, some of our modern day fast food outlets should add this new drink to compete with their sugar-loaded ones! 

Cooling effects of chemical compounds called saponins that cause a foam when mixed with water make Chickweed especially soothing when applied to hot or itchy skin irritations, eczema or psoriasis. It is also useful on wounds to reduce scarring. 

While Chickweed has been used internally for upset digestive systems, it must be held to small doses since too large doses can have a detrimental laxative effect with some people. 

Leaves and flowers pressed together as a cream are used to lessen arthritic complaints, stiffness and pain. There is a small patch in my side yard that is being protected right now just in case I might need it if physical therapy fails.