A scrap of comfrey, the permaculture plant

An ode to comfrey THE permaculture plant.

By Summer Hansell

(in response to the Permaculture Women’s Writing Challenge, Day One: Pick a Plant)

If a plant could have a motto, comfrey’s would be “Fortify!”

She is tough. Determined. A survivor. Witness: one little scrap of comfrey, sent to another place, far away. Left outside to become dry. Forgotten.

Then: remembered! Ah! Finally, set back into the earth. She sank in, felt her way into this new place. Different, but the things were there that she needed: hello earth, hello clay, hello minerals. She reached up one small leaf, collected sunshine, sent out another. The rains came. She drank, earthed herself deeper into the new place. Over the days she took in the sun; every night she rooted deeper. Connecting herself to this place deeply.

She weathered droughts: her deep roots said, Fortify! She wilted, but made it through. Run over by a lawn mower: no problem. Back again, greener than ever with the next round of sunshine and rain.

Pieces of her were cut, dug, transported…many not so far away: over there, by the chicken yard fence, she can feel herselves, over there by the orchard wall. Some pieces even farther: sent in a parcel to another piece of land, again different earth, different human connections, herselves thrived.

Once she was dug up and eaten by pigs. The earth turned over and over, trod upon, chewed….her small rootlets said, Fortify! and she returned, from even the tiniest piece, spread out with new nutrients to ingest and reach up to the sun. When the coldest time comes, she retreats, deep under the earth, under a blanket of dry leaves, she rests. Not breathing, just resting, waiting for the trickle of snow melt, the barest warmth of spring’s first breath to return.

She is medicine. She is food for animals, and for the earth. She is acknowledged, and thanked by the humans who also live near. She is deep, and strength. She will remain: the bone knitting, earthy crone of the land.

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