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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2273369
Short story about a Plant Walk
signature dancing owl By JudithD (Apondia)

A Plant Walk

Julie and Jerry had carefully planned the Plant Walk This morning each had packed a back pack for the walk.

Julie’s held a small first- aide kit, which held band aides, antibiotic ointment, a sprain wrap, and bee sting medication. She threw in several bottles of water. A clean t-shirt, and a small package of rubber gloves. As, an after thought she also threw in a clean pair of socks, some energy bars and a pair of clogs. Then she added a Plant guide book, small tablet and a water resistant pen. When the red back pack was closed she tied a cheap pair of plastic shoe covers to one of the rings that hung from the edge of the pack.

Jerry watched her with a grin. “You know this is only going to take at the most three hours, right?”

“Be prepared, is what I think.” She replied.

Jerry sobered. He was wearing Jeans, a dark blue t-shirt and red hiking shoes. “O.K., In that frame of mind!” He began by stuffing a wrapped peanut butter sandwich, energy bars and bottles of water in his pack. He grabbed the solar flashlight he had recently purchased, adding it to the contents of the pack.. Stuffing a light wind breaker on the top of everything he closed the pack. “Is your phone charged? Don’t forget your phone. And, bug spray.”

Julie was wearing jeans with a narrow utility belt a green long-sleeved t-shirt, and ankle high brown leather hiking shoes. Her phone, a small flashlight, a pair of lineman's pliers, and a small can of bug spray hung from leather pouches on the belt. “Yes. Plus, there is a small solar charger in my pack that can charge several phones, before the energy runs out of it.”

Jerry chuckled. He walked to the drawer on the desk, took out a small pack of matches, then unzipping the pack he added them to the items and zipped the pack closed.” Do you think we should take a tent?” he teased.

Outside they tossed the backpacks into Julie’s Jeep Renegade. Soon, they were driving down the highway to the park where they had planned the Plant Walk.

Jerry was a friend Julie had met at her gym. They often hiked the trails around the area. This was Jerry’s first Plant Walk. He had become curious about plants since meeting and spending time with Julie.

There was a small parking lot where the trail started and ended. Now, it was crowded with four other cars. Julie was an herbalist. She often planned and took people on Plant Walks to learn more about the wild growing herbs in her community area.

People, four females and two males, were sitting and standing by a picnic table situated in a clearing near the parking lot. “Oh good, it looks like everyone is here.”

Julie waved at the group and yelled, “Hi.” They waved and called back to her.

Jerry removed both back packs. while Julie locked the car and stowed her keys in her pack, which Jerry handed to her.

“ Jerry, this is Amy, Mary, Shirley, Susan, Sam and Buddy. I work with Amy and Mary. I met Sam and Susan at the Plant Conference, and Shirley and Buddy just called one day about the Plant Walk.”

The group crowded around and were shaking hands with each other. Shirley spoke up. I don’t know about Buddy, but I saw your card at the conference Plant Walk table and just called the number on it.”

Buddy chimed in, “A friend of mine brought a bunch of advertisements home. I live in the same apartment complex. I picked up your card from him. I think he went to the plant conference too. . Julie explained about the merits of a Plant Walk Now, I think I might be here to learn something.?”

Julie began her guide talk. “O. K. Our walk is about four miles long. It begins over there. She pointed to a trail head with a sign on it pointing in the direction of the forest. And it ends on the opposite side of the parking lot. I’ve been on this trail a lot of different times and picked it for today, because it is close to where we all live. It seems to have a lot of growing herbs along the edge. Remember, don’t pick anything until we all get a chance to photograph and list the plants. I’ll let you know if it is safe to take samples.

The trail is a circular path. We will be crossing small bridges, that transport hikers over smiling creek. Smiling creek is a very small tributary, about 5 feet wide and calf deep, that drains into a river several miles away. We are fortunate to have really nice weather today for the walk. We will see dense tree growth interspersed with meadows along the trail.

The group walked over to the sign, Amy took the lead. She was the shortest member of the group. Her height of five foot three inches and her slim body frame made her seem youthful, even though she was close to 60 in her age. She wore tan slacks, a bright yellow t-shirt, a tan hat with a circular brim, and hiking shoes.

Amy was standing on the paved trail pointing at a clump of yellow blossoms. The others had gathered off the trail around the plant. A sudden roar from the forest, they were going to soon enter, caused the group to look up.

Julie shouted, “Amy look out!

Jerry was standing close to Amy, when Julie shouted he reached out and grabbed her arm, jerking her toward him off the trail. A motor bike roared past at the same time. Within split seconds it exited the parking lot onto the road leading out of the park.

Amy was rubbing her arm. “Thanks Jerry.”

“What on earth was that, Motor vehicles are not allowed on this trail. It’s a walking trail only.” Stated Julie.

Buddy was squatted down next to the yellow plant. Now he exclaimed, “ I know this, it’s just a weed.”

His exclamation took the groups attention away from the near accident. They all turned their attention to the plant.

“Your partly right, Buddy. Amy are you O.K?” Julie was looking everyone over quickly to see if anyone else was upset.

“Thanks to Jerry,”

“Hope I didn’t injure your arm with that quick jerk?’

“No, it’s fine. Let’s move on.”

This plant is a rather common one. It is classified as a weed. I’m sure many or all of you recognize a Dandelion. It is also an herb. Every part of it is eatable and useful as a medicinal plant. The scientific name is Taraxacm officianale. The shape of the leaves resemble a lion’s tooth. The French call it “dents de lion.” It has lots of different names in other countries, Blow ball, because of the seeds that develop from the blossom into a snowy soft ball. Each seed is attached to a small piece of fluff that allows the wind to carry the seeds and spread them as they disperse. It’s also called canker wort and wild endive... Take some close up pictures of it so you can identify the leaves and stem.

Buddy wanted to know, “What are some of the uses?”

It’s rich in vitamins, A, E, C and iron, zinc, and calcium. Speaking of calcium, it puts it’s roots down deep into the ground and draws up calcium into the top soil. One of the reasons you see some places covered with Dandelion is because the soil needs the calcium nutrient this plant is providing.

Medicinally the plant is a natural diuretic. And, the blossom is used as a pale yellow dye. It is also used as a food. O.K. Let’s move on down the trail.

Jerry moved up beside Julie. As they started down the trail he spoke very quietly, “I’m going to mosey on ahead and just check the trail is clear and safe.”

Relieved Julie answered, “Thanks, I think that would be a good idea.”

As they entered the forest Buddy would stop and run his hand up a tree here and there. Finally he drifted in beside Julie and asked questions about the trees they were passing.

“Buddy this is a deciduous forest. I’m not as knowledgeable about trees. You should take some pictures. I’ll tell you some web sites, before you leave, where you can look up different trees to identify them. There are some conifers here.” Buddy was typing quickly, on his phone, writing down words to look up later.

.They were rounding a small knoll where the trail was bending to the right. The forest had receded leaving a rise in the land that was well exposed to sunlight. Mary pointed out a plant her bright orange shirt was highlighted by the sunshine. she was taking pictures of, a plant, “what is this?”

Julie was turning pages in her guidebook. “ I think it’s comfrey, Yes, see how the purple flowers are hanging down like small clumps of bells? The scientific name is Symphytum officianale. You can buy this plant by the pound from tea houses and places like Amazon. However, its’ use is controversial. It contains chemicals, alkaloids that are considered dangerous to the liver if the plant is ingested. Because of some kinds of tests, the USA has labeled it illegal to use in medicines. It has been used for many years by individuals for coughs and sore throats. It has also been used as a healing agent for skin injuries. One of the dangers is that It can be absorbed through the skin. A YouTube put out by HerbTV features a lecture by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, about the plant, its uses, and the controversy surrounding the herb. You can see why it is growing here. Lots of sunshine and the soil is well drained. It is also called slippery root. And, it is easy to grow from seed. Take some pictures because I’m a little surprised to find it in this particular spot.

Let’s move on I think we are near the bridge over smiling creek. The path straightened out and they saw the bridge ahead.

Julie led them to the muddy edge of the creek where they located a mint plant. “Notice the square stems and how the leaves of this plant grow on opposite sides of the stem in clusters. Different types of mint have different scientific names and different minty flavors. You can also grow this plant in pots or gardens. The stem grows up becomes long and heavy, then loops down touching the ground to grow roots. This helps the plant to spread across the ground. Pollinator enjoy the white or purple flowers. Don’t feed it to your animals, because it is toxic to pets.

The group walked the circular path ending back at the parking lot. They had taken lots of pictures of plants. Lemon balm, lavender, and rosemary were some of the other plants found. Julie told Buddy where to find The American Botanical Council and the AHPA.org (America Herbal Products Association) and cautioned him about not using plants as medicine unless he was sure of the results or risks.

Jerry rejoined the group as they were moving toward their automobiles. “The park security caught the guy on the motor bike," he reported.

" I clued them in to what happened here to us. He is going to receive a large fine and have to do some community service. He said he was just checking on the Comfrey plants he planted out on the trail somewhere.”

Everyone traded phone numbers and vowed to stay in touch. Soon, they were all forming a line and driving out. Julie sighed, the Plant walk was successful. The weather was great. It had been a pleasant day.

The End

Word Count = 1988

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