Medicine Of The True North

I had just gotten off the boat arriving on the western edge of the Canadian coast. Mrs. Lorax picked me up and we headed to the grocery store on our way home. As we entered aisle 7, I heard her say “Oh look who it is!”

She had recently met a man who cares for a medicine conservation garden very near our own home. And sure enough, we found ourselves together in the ethnic foods section- two cactus nerds shopping for dinner in the same aisle in a small coastal Canadian town. What are the chances? Well with peyote, the odds seem pretty high.

After exchanging introductions, he invited me to visit his garden whenever possible. I only had a few days to stay in Canada and I didn’t want to let this chance encounter go unappreciated, so arrangements for my visit were made.

That morning, as I enjoyed my morning coffee on the Mrs. Lorax porch, I was blessed with the sight and sounds of six bald eagles soaring effortlessly towards the bay. Then five more… Then ten more… In less than a minute I had counted 100 bald eagles flying directly over me and my coffee. An auspicious beginning to a new day I thought. Abundance! Medicine!

Later that day I arrived at my fellow medicine enthusiast’s home, a small cabin-like place in the temperate rainforest, an area which reminds me of a landscape out of The Lord Of The Rings or some other Tolkien novel that I’ve never read. We’ll call him Samwise Gamgee. Showing me into his growhut in the forest, I could immediately see that Samwise had a strong love for medicine. My friend had a gentle way about him and I quickly came to appreciate his humble manner and the sparkle in his voice when discussing medicine. He has taken great care to propagate a variety of plants from diverse seed origins and keeps specimens tagged as to their source origins.

A young cresting seedling. This specimen is from an unusually fast growing variety originating from Tanque Menchaca, Coahuila, Mexico.

The tender love and care that Samwise tends his garden with gave me a warm feeling for him despite our short history as friends. An hour passed quickly as we admired his beautiful seed-grown babies and talked nonstop of growing techniques, seed varieties, and all the stuff those of us who care for peyote gardens can go on with for hours. We carried on in this way until it was time to pick up my son at school.

Lovingly cared for Star Peyote (Astrophytum asterias) seedlings.
Astrophytum asterias

My wife and I are aware of two other peyote conservation gardens (other than our own) in our area of the western Canadian coast, but having another friend within a short driving distance of our own garden confirms our own growing Fellowship Of The Ring. In the future I hope that Samwise will share some of his experience and growing tips with listeners of the Peyote Lorax podcast. But for now, I thought to share these images with the hope that others will be likewise inspired to plant the seed. It doesn’t take a big space, just a big heart.

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The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

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