An encounter with a hawthorn tree
This is a cup of hawthorn tea I made from the fresh berries. I found the tree at the edge of a field that has been protected by Oregon Metro. Hawthorn is a heart tonic, and for many years I have been interested in these little trees, but cautious to use them as the berries have cardio modulating effects. I’ve been having some rough times lately and I went for a long run in Forest Park. Afterwards I wasn't really sure what to do, I was sweaty and I've been really concerned about not having an income recently. Working seasonally is hard, because it allows a measure of freedom, but not without anxiety when there isn't any money coming in for long periods of the year.
I drove down a road I've been taking a lot lately that connects the St John's bridge with the north side of Beaverton. As soon as you wind up and over the West Hills, the trees open and fields appear, edged by oak groves, with little alder marshes and ashes spread through the fields. It's a landscape that development is exploding all around, so I always appreciate the patches that Oregon Metro sets aside for wildlife and people.
There is a preserve up one of the roads that doesn't have signs or a parking lot yet, which in my books, is a good thing. It's a place where you probably won't ever see anyone else, which is just my kind of stomping ground. The field is steep and leads to an edge of bigleaf maples and alders. I went down to the bottom on tired legs to see into the trees and to see the creek. The slope kept dropping and I was wearing crocs, so I just gazed downhill for a while, then turned around.
On the edge of the field a hawthorn tree was pushed down under a snag, its berries almost touching the ground. I couldn't help but grab handfuls, and soon my jacket pocket was full.
I got home and put the berries, which look like rosehips—bright red and shiny—in a pot with water and cooked them down for about half an hour. As they were simmering, I read about their qualities. It seems they modulate the hearts responsiveness to our environment—that's the best way I can put it. If your heart is weak, hawthorn will help tonify the muscles to increase the strength of contractions. If your heart is pumping too strongly, it will help reduce the contractions to lower blood pressure.
Chinese Medicine sees the heart as a sensory organ, responsive to the needs of the body and our environment. So it's not a simple pump. It also houses the Shen, or spirit, which is kind of like an analog to our perception of the world.
Being drawn to the tree at a time of calamity and indecision in my life makes a lot of sense. I wrote about a hawthorn tree in Don't Worry. It seems this tree is trying to tell me something.
This morning I heated up the tea I had made yesterday, and drank a small cup before the sun had fully risen. It turns out I haven't been engaged with sources of things much this fall and winter, which is my main solace in life. And my time with the tree, in the somewhat forgotten field, reminded me of that.
The medicine isn't only in the cup, but in the surprise of finding
The gathering, and making
The sharing, and finally
The taking in
The world works more slowly than we know, patiently
growing day by day, fruiting then
falling to earth, doing it over again
year after year after year