You know that thing that people tell you, about how time goes faster and faster the older you get? It’s really true. As a child, I luxuriated in summer days, letting the sun kiss me and nature embrace me. Now it seems like an entire year fits into the length of a childhood summer. The earth spins, my head spins and what?! The autumnal equinox is here, on my aunt’s would-be 90th birthday, if she was still on this earth.
Along with her birthday comes the annual event that I host in her memory, in honor of the work she did to help women thrive: the BotanicWise MidAtlantic Women’s Herbal Conference. The end of summer, beginning of fall, missing my aunt and the Women’s Conference are all wrapped up in one big feeling in my heart this time of year.
It is hard to describe the magic that occurs when a rainbow of 300 women and some plants gather together for the weekend.
Recently I hosted a webinar, “Herbs for Women” featuring Rosita Arvigo and Deb Soule. Both of these amazing women will be teaching at this year’s conference and during the webinar we laughed as we reminisced about the last time Rosita taught for BotanicWise. That was 4 years ago.
That year, as the conference date approached, I was feeling pretty chill about everything, and proud of myself for being so relaxed. It’s no small endeavor to host an event like this, especially in the beginning when I had no clue what I was doing. So I was feeling pretty cheeky. Since this was my 5th year, I had learned a thing or two, and everything was falling into place beautifully. This was back in the years when I held the event on my farm… outside... under tents... “All-Weather” tents, we might say? Yeah, I was younger then.
“Who cares about a little rain?" I’d say. "I am NOT going to worry about the weather.”
Well, Mother Nature clearly wanted to get my attention, and maybe knock me off my high horse, because when I finally did check the weather, it was not pretty. Rain and high winds were the forecast. Every day the prediction worsened until we had near-hurricane winds and temperatures nestled in the low 40s.
Now, I have a some sturdy Norwegian blood, and I don’t mind the cold, but forty degree temperatures for an outdoor event? Really? I began to stress about keeping everybody warm, especially my teachers. Rosita was returning from Mexico and had this tiny little suitcase and a thin poncho sort of thing, geared towards Mexico cold, not Pennsylvania cold.
"I will be fine," she insisted.
I looked at her dubiously. Long story short, when it started snowing and blowing, even with the noisy heaters in the tent, she wasn’t fine and we wrapped the shivering Rosita in a down coat.
I learned a few lessons that weekend:
#1 —> I DO care about the weather! I moved the venue off my farm to the Kempton Community Center, a venue complete with real buildings and heat. I also shifted the date to one week earlier. Both moves have made a huge difference!
#2 —> I learned about how enthusiastic and resilient plant lovers are. The rapt attention of the students and the heart and soul which the teachers poured into their classes (despite the near freezing weather) was astounding.
Everyone left that event feeling exuberant - inspired and full to the brim with joy.
The fabric of connection and community that we wove together as we faced the adverse weather still remains. That’s the magic of how plants bring us together and teach us about community… and togetherness… and about what sings to our hearts… and about love.
Year after year, no matter what the weather, that’s what happens when we gather together. Sweetness…
Like the breath of a summer meadow when the grasses and wildflowers are in bloom.
Rosita tells me she’s bringing plenty of warm clothes this year, even though she won’t need them. We’re cozy as cats at the new venue!
For those of you who are ready to experience this plant alchemy, I cordially invite you to join us next weekend for the best herbal weekend of the year. Okay, I’m biased. But, this conference stands out from the rest because it’s a smaller more intimate group of women, with LOTS of up close opportunities to meet the teachers, find inspiration, and feel part of a family of plant loving women determined to make a difference and bring some love, light, and healing to the planet.