The Monday Book: WICKED PLANTS by Amy Stewart

I enjoyed this way more than my friends enjoyed watching me read it. Made them nervous for some reason.

Scare your friends!

The book is a catalogue of plants, categorized in a fairly random order that makes for great reading. Each plant or family of plants has descriptions and short stories about how people found out they were poisonous and/or what they did once they found out.

Not all the plants are deadly. At the small tabs at the top of the page one finds categorizations of dangerous, illegal, invasive, and intoxicating, among others.

My personal favorite was probably Jimson Weed, which grows around here. Apparently when the colonists first arrived and didn’t have good enough sense to ask the indigenous people what was good to eat, they ate Jimson Weed leaves, plus roots pounded into flour. This gives you one very interesting high before it either kills you or renders you incoherent for a few days.

So once they figured out which leaves they should not eat, well, knowledge like that should not go to waste when the next invaders show up… yep. Colonists fed Jimson Stew to the British soldiers housed in their homes. Poor sods went crazy more than went lights out, though. Perhaps the colonists were merciful, or maybe they couldn’t find enough to finish them off. But the soldiers were recalled for medical reasons.

Many other stories are included. This is not a narrative book, but a series of short stories wrapped in information. Also, I had no idea how many wicked weeds grow in desert climates. It’s true that everything out there is trying to kill you.

Highly recommended – and if you want to scare people, leave it on your kitchen table when you have friends over.

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Filed under book reviews, crafting, folklore and ethnography, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, what's on your bedside table

The flood next/this Time

Jack makes it on time for a change – –

When Wendy and I first moved to Big Stone Gap in faar SW Virginia, we early on took a drive up to Black Mountain just a few miles away on the border between VA and Kentucky. There’s a parking place up there where you can look over to where there used to be another mountain. It’s no longer there because the easiest and cheapest way to get coal was to get rid of miners, hire a few machine drivers and a lot of explosives.

The coal companies are mainly owned directly or indirectly by the power companies who run the coal fired plants and answer to their shareholders – maximize profits and dividends.

So when the coal is extracted the land should be returned to its original condition but never is because it’s cheaper to just walk away and nobody with any influence seems to care.

So the natural water courses are clogged up, there are mudslides, contaminated rivers etc. The coal fired power plants add to carbon which adds to climate change, and which results in a ‘perfect storm’!

The news reports have focused on the tragedies of lost lives and the coming together of communities to provide support just as communities around the world do on such occasions. But I’ve seen very few that even try to make the connection between coal mining legacies, mountain removal, carbon emissions and flooding in east Kentucky last week.

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