This was written in 2006 by a friend who now happily lives on the West Coast.
She came to several of the free classes I taught at Harvest Coop Market in Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Thanks for the shout-out, Mary!
Iris Weaver Interrupted My Whole Evening: A True Plant Story
I never feel like going to an Iris Weaver class. It’s always raining and it’s the end of the day and I’m already fine I tell you, FINE damn it if only I hadn’t run out of chocolate.
Well, my chocolate supplier is Harvest Supermarket so once there it makes sense to trudge up the stairs and at least peek in at the whole Iris class concept and see what’s cookin’ and bloomin.’
After getting a big undeserved welcome even if I’m late, it’s all very interesting right away because there are cool things spread out over the table, little twigs and nuts and husks and whatnot, and tinctures and infusions and stuff to nibble and sip on later. Iris is at the whiteboard spelling things in Latin or else giving us handouts of useful terms and handy tips and book lists or else holding up books and pictures and reading things out loud and telling us true foraging stories.
Iris coaxes and nurses, like, a hundred medicinal and edible flora in wild plots and people’s yards here and there, she’s forever visiting her adopted gardens to tend them and pick stuff and put it up in jars and hang them from the roof.
She always has new discoveries from her own experience and also draws on old colorful mistakes that she warns us about so that we don’t have to make the same mistakes all over.
She has a nice cautious approach about dangerous similarities between this and that or how we have to check the exact Latin and keep reading and taking walks with foragers and scanning the Net.
She makes things easy to understand so that even beginners can come to any class.
She has this slightly breathless enthusiasm that you almost never see any more. Also patience with teaching in the Community Room with store paging and all in full swing. Also a kind of old-fashioned ladylike grace in the way she describes these plants who are like her friends and familiars.
Then she passes around samples and snacks and lets everybody sniff and taste things and ask lots of questions, and then it is teatime. Iris’s tea hits the spot, even spots that I didn’t know I had. Even the strong bittery tea tastes clean and… real, sometimes familiar and often totally different. Unlike most things that the wonders of modern living allow us to put into our mouths, this all tastes genuine and purposeful and honest and authentic.
One nice thing is that the people in her classes come from every possible age and background and interest level.
Many were just kind of shopping and stopped in and became all interested.
Even though at a Boston public event you are supposed to ignore all the other people at the event, people soon find themselves sharing comments and jokes.
They often have stories that they want to contribute too. Iris listens to everybody and whips open this or that page to show them more about their interests and offers some word of encouragement for their further studies.
This is an unusual thing to say, but after Iris’s class I feel more like a woman. All day I’m in unmarked-gender mode running around thinking and planning and riding the subway in straight metal lines and typing and checking voicemail. But after a couple hours hearing stories and communing with dried flowers and sipping healthful brews and being read to and fussed over, something in me just settles right down and feels the air outside and the asphalt under my sneakers and the intuition under my ribs and oh hey isn’t that weed at the curb edible as well as pretty?
I never feel like going to an Iris Weaver class.
You won’t feel like it either, if it’s raining and your blood sugar is low and you want to get home. But, I am always glad that I go anyway.