My daughter Rosa and I crossed the entire country twice in the past three days on our way from Portland, Maine to Medford, Oregon and back. As is often the case for us, this little adventure was all about the herbs.

Our mission was to learn as much as possible regarding the working model used by a large and successful herbal farm and manufacturing company in hopes we might apply some of what we learned to our own operations as we move toward our goal of 100% compliance with the new GMPs.

From up above America looks wondrous. Blue skies and puffy clouds and farmlands, waterways and mountains as far as the eyes can see; communities big and small, great accumulations of buildings followed by huge areas of nothing but beautiful earth in all her magnificent colors, undulations and expressions. It’s a vivid, imaginative patchwork of human accomplishment and natural, ever changing landscapes and as seen from high above the clouds it looks like a culture of green and brown topped with white and blue. It’s an amazing, gorgeous land mass.

We can sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture and meaning of our lives and get bogged down in the mire of everyday happenings and struggles. So I welcomed the blessing of this fresh, expansive perspective and returned home feeling strangely renewed for having just spent such a great deal of time during the past three days sitting in airports.

There are no direct flights from Maine to Oregon. So we hip-hopped from Maine to Charlotte, then to Denver and on to Oregon where we spent just one solid day before flying out to San Francisco, Chicago and finally back home to Portland, Maine. And, aside from the stunning views we enjoyed while flying as well as while driving around Oregon and the over-all success of our herbal research project, kibitzing with people sitting in airports in various locations around the country for the weekend was the most fun! Americans are a really eclectic, friendly and basically good-natured, helpful bunch of people.

We loved Oregon and resolved to return one day to spend more time. We visited Ashland, a really cool place with good organic food and lots of cool shops surrounded by beautiful mountains and full of natural people. We went on to Jacksonville which has that old Western feel, an old mining town with old signs and enjoyed a wonderful art show there on Main Street.

These small towns are surrounded by mountains and fields and trees. There are herds of cows and goats and small vineyards everywhere. The volcanic terrain is fertile and lush, perfect for growing grapes, long, green rows of which line the countryside.

There were signs like Stagecoach Road and the Oregon Trail that made us consider the people who trekked across the country in wagons pulled by horses or oxen, some of them on foot, to come here, not all that long ago. You can see why they would have done that. The stories they must have heard. We left our thanks and prayers for them.

We saw literally tons of mullein lining the roadways and all of it was still green. There were all kinds of flowering trees, black-raspberries, tall pines and thick, wide oaks along the roadsides. Inspired by the rugged and enduring northwestern landscape, we brought back two tree seedlings – one a Giant Sequoia, the other a Redwood tree. And, of course, trinkets for our support crew and family at home.

Since the intent of our trip was to gather useful information, Rosa and I discussed what we’d learned a bit on the way home. We agreed that while we had seen and learned a lot, both the size and most importantly the inherent quality of our present operations seemed to us to be vastly superior in comparison.

For a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with a sense of personal fulfillment, intention and purpose, we concluded somewhere over Ohio I think it was, that other than a small but necessary expansion in our growing area, and some relatively minor tweaks in our record keeping, there is not all that much we really want or need to change about our current operations in order to meet our stated goal.

We returned home from our three-day, whiz bang, cross-country adventure with that happy feeling you get when you realize that where you are and what you’re doing, how you are doing it and who you are doing with could not be more perfect had you planned it yourself.

And when my feet finally hit the earth here on the Blessed Maine Herb Farm this morning I knew I was back home in the deepest sense of the word. Yeah. So, all in all, herbal research mission totally accomplished.

About gailfaithedwards

Gail Faith Edwards is an internationally recognized Community Herbalist with over thirty years experience. She is the author of a number of books about herbs and has taught in India, Italy, Poland and Russia, at the Yale School of Nursing, the University of Maine and the College of the Atlantic, among others. She is the founder of Blessed Maine Herb Farm and Director of the Blessed Maine Herb Farm School of Herbal Medicine. She is the mother of four grown children and the grandmother of four grandsons. Gail leads sacred journeys and ancestral pilgrimages to Southern Italia twice a year.
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