An article by Linda Avery-Eaton about Zachar Bay Lodge.
Linda Avery-Eaton is a woman of faith who helps run Zachar Bay Lodge in Kodiak Island, Alaska. She has a husband and two children and thrives on learning how to grow, plant, and make new things for the lodge and her family.
I’m guessing most girls would love to get flowers from their guy and I’m no different, but when you live in remote Alaska, bouquets you’d normally think of are hard to come by. Imagine my surprise when my husband guided guests from Zachar Bay Lodge on their Kodiak adventure and returned with flowers for me . . . in a gallon bag. What was even more surprising was my excitement over a bunch of wildflowers snapped off at the top and stuffed in a bag. The guests laughed at my enthusiasm until I told them what I was going to do with them.
Before being hired at Zachar Bay Lodge in 1999, I took a class on Alaska plants and their uses. As well as learning to identify several plants, I learned how to make tinctures and salves. The plant my husband had brought home to me was Arnica. Arnica has medicinal properties and although Schofield in her book Discovering Wild Plants records it can be used for any wilderness emergency, we use it most often for bruises and sore muscles. I was excited because I would use the flowers in the bag to replenish our tincture that was close to running out.
For the guests that usually go to a store to buy medicine, this was a new concept, but my excitement was a bit more understandable. I then explained the simple process. We put the flowers in a glass bowl, pour 100% rubbing alcohol on it, cover it lightly and let it sit for several days stirring occasionally. This soak in alcohol is potent enough to release the medicinal properties into the liquid. After soaking, the alcohol is strained through a cloth to remove any flower bits. The liquid is then put in a spray bottle and applied topically to the bruised or sore area.
My husband not only thought of me while working but he took the time to pick the flowers so that we could make something useful from them. That was better than any bouquet of flowers from a shop.
As I reflected on this incident to write this article, it occurred to me that the same idea could be used with another plant I have in the local area. I’ve read that yarrow repels biting insects. If I made it into a tincture, put it in a spray bottle and used it like bug repellent, would the properties that repel the insects be strong enough? It may be time to go plant harvesting. Instead of bringing me flowers, maybe this time we’ll go on a date and bring back the flowers together.