My Brain on Schizandra Berries

My brain off schizandra berries ignored my four schizandra vines. Would a resident boa constrictor help as an excuse? It seems many other life forms also admire schizandra habitat:  moist, half shady, lush, and well drained. I didn’t think I created a tropical rain forest here in lower Michigan, though I did see a neon green snake in the schizandra one day. It was several years with several below zero non tropical winters before I ventured back to that garden again. And what effects was schizandra supposed to have again? “This herb develops the primary energies of life…..generates vitality and radiant beauty when used regularly for some time. This herb is considered to be one of the premium mind tonics of herbalism. It is used to sharpen concentration, improve memory, and increase alertness. Yet, unlike caffeine-like stimulants….schizandra is mildly calming while producing wakefulness and improved focus.”  Ron Teeguarden from his book Radiant Health.

And there is much more.

But my brain off schizandra forgot all that, maybe even didn’t quite believe in what stood before me. The schizandra vines had lots of blossoms last spring. I covered them with floating fabric one night when frost hit. I believed a little. All summer, timely rains helped out my neglect till beautiful berries were visible in August. I had seen schizandra shrivel on the vine, but this year, they were gathered. Encroaching civilization must claim a few rewards. This January I remembered the bags of schizandra in the  freezer and brewed the tea I had made a few times before. It was powerful and overwhelming – not bad tasting, just in need of balance. I tried adding deeper tastes I had on hand, to tether the galloping, rollicking schizandra – cinnamon, ginger, hawthorn berries, and horsetail (mostly taste-free and for silica) – and emerged on the other side with a great tasting tea. I drank this once a day or threw a tablespoon of frozen berries into my morning shake. Even though each berry has a seed, my blender (Vitamix) made no mention of them.

At Home With Schizandra

100 Days………Ron Teeguarden:  “If used for one hundred days successively, schizandra is said to purify the blood, sharpen the mind, improve memory, rejuvenate the kidney energy, and cause the skin to become radiantly beautiful.” The halfway point was late February  when I was half awake at 11 PM and At Home With Friends with Joshua Bell, violinist, appeared on PBS. First Sting sang the Elizabethan song “Come Again” by the great John Dowland, then Kristin Chenoweth sang an incredible arrangement of “My Funny Valentine”, Carel Kraayenhof on the bandoneon (historic accordion) played the meditative tango, “Oblivion”, and Joshua Bell played with a dead Rachmaninoff on piano through the miracles of recording technology. I have a music background of flute and piano – but for over 30 years have heard music and not heard music, as if a wall were there keeping music from penetrating to the nucleii of my cells – the center where electrons dance with passing sparks. This hearing made it past that wall – and music revealed itself as music, not plodding notes. To be sure, immense credit goes to Joshua Bell – schizandra doesn’t dance with just any musician. But I had heard excellent musicians before, including Joshua Bell, my husband being a music enthusiast, with little reaction. Even the memory of this music is so vivid, it plays in my mind “in stereo” with such accuracy, it sometimes interferes with meditation attempts.

Now I scheme and plot to hear Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk (pianist) in person along with other music performers. Let’s hope I am not neglecting my garden chasing around classical stars all over this summer…..though wouldn’t there be a nursery on the way?  Thanks schizandra!

                     by  Rumi

                     All day and night, music,
                     a quiet, bright
                     reedsong. If it
                     fades, we fade.

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