Tumbling down the stairs. It’s an early, terrifying memory for many a child. The world turns upside down and flashes past the eyes. The breath is knocked out of the little body that was just starting to respond in a predictable way. The very first breath that comes in again is expelled in a wail. It’s a sound that strikes fear into a parent’s heart. Thumpety-thumpety thump thump WAAAHHH! Mother and child clutch each other…any broken bones? Concussion? Do all the toes and fingers still work? Usually the child is more scared than hurt, and there’s nothing to do but hug, rock, reassure. And one more thing. Grab the little bottle of lavender oil from the first aid box, open it up and wave it under the child’s nose…and sniff some yourself. The atmosphere changes immediately, calming and soothing. The crying stops. The pounding heart slows. Calm is returned, and the hurts can be cataloged, cold cloths applied, band aids put on boo-boos. Or if there is something seriously wrong, it can be discovered and treated more quickly. A dab of lavender oil on a stubbed toe immediately takes away the teeth-clenching, hopping-up-and-down pain. A bit massaged into the temples can ease a tension headache. If you’re heading out for a night of wild partying, you may want to choose a different scene–it can make anyone who comes close to you feel calm and serene. Lavender sachets tucked into your linens might remind you of your maiden aunt, but there’s good reason for it. The herb repels insects, and wise housewives in the Middle Ages used it to protect their families from plague, which was spread from rats to humans by lice and fleas. If you grow your own lavender, you can collect oil by hanging the blossom spikes upside down in a closed jar, and setting it in the sun. There are several varieties of lavender available to grow in your garden, but English lavender, Lavandula vera, is regarded as the best. It does well in poor soil, and blossoms in late May, adding a sweet, calming aroma to the air on warm afternoons. Now’s a good time to plan for a corner of your yard planted with some fragrant lavender…make sure it’s a space where you can tuck in a lawn chair for a snooze in the late spring sunshine. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 3 – March 2003
by Janice Christensen