“Lucy’s Comfort”

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Quilt by Vicki Malone

Machine quilted by Marina Baudoin

Artist’s statement:

My quilt was inspired by the work of Oklahoma quilter Becky Goldsmith. I was also influenced by studying 18th-century quilts made in Virginia. Many had a light background and were appliquéd in bright floral motifs . Most of those old quilts that still exist were made by women of the wealthy classes and probably only used for special occasions. Lucy might have had a quilt that was appliquéd but because she was a pragmatic woman she also would have put her quilt to good use – it might have had a few places where it was mended with scrap material. I’m sure Lucy would not have wasted a thing!

The plants I have chosen are plants she could have foraged and eaten and most also had medicinal uses by early settlers and Indians. Surprisingly, many are used in medicine today.

These plants could have given her comfort by easing her rheumatism, relieving an upset stomach or nourishing one of her children or grandchildren. She might have savored a tea of bergamot or rose hips and marveled at the beauty of sweetbrier roses in one of her silver vases or she might have offered a bowl of sweet Juneberries and cream in her best china to visitors at Locust Hill.

The hearts in the quilt represent the hardships Lucy endured in her long life – the deaths of her two husbands, managing a large farm by herself, the sad, tragic deaths of two of her sons, Meriwether and John. Life for Lucy and for all of us is happiness and heartache. A heart can be mended but scarred and life goes on.

We all need comforting things in our lives to help mend our hearts. I’m sure Lucy was no different.

Plant uses:

Plants on border, starting at top and going clockwise:

Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) – All of this plant can be used. The tender leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Flower buds can be boiled and served with butter or pickled and the flowers are excellent dipped in batter and fried. Leaves and flowers are rich in Vitamins A and C. The root can be baked, then ground and used in place of coffee.

Dandelion root has been used widely especially in Europe for various gastrointestinal conditions. Fresh-root tea was used in treating liver, gallbladder, kidney and bladder ailments. Also used as a tonic for constipation and impaired digestion. The leaves and root were used in cystitis and other inflammations. Sesquiterpene lactones identified in the leaves and roots have diuretic as well as anti-inflammatory activity. (NSD)

Today in Germany the dandelion leaf has been approved for loss of appetite and dyspepsia . The root is approved for treatment of bile flow disturbances, as a diuretic, and to stimulate appetite (several bitter constituents stimulate digestion) and treat dyspepsia. (Peterson, p. 84; Foster and Duke, p. 145) Several bitter compounds have been identified in the leaves and roots.

Cichorium intybus (chickory) – Roasted roots make an excellent coffee-like beverage. Young, tender leaves cooked or eaten raw. Was used in jaundice, skin eruptions and fevers. Root extracts are diuretic, cardiotonic; lowers blood sugar and is mildly sedative and laxative. (Peterson, p.144, Foster and Duke, pp. 223-224)

Ulmus rubra (slippery elm) – American Revolution surgeons used bark poultice as the primary treatment for gunshot wounds. The inner bark mixed with water makes a mucilaginous tea and was used for sore throats, upset stomachs, coughs and pleurisy. It was listed from 1820-1960 in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as a demulcent, emollient, and antitussive. It was also used as a nutritious broth for young children and the elderly. Slivers of the inner bark were also sometimes used, dangerously, to induce abortions. Today it is used as a demulcent in over-the-counter throat lozenges. (Foster and Duke, p. 332) Some naturopathic practitioners prescribe it topically for various skin rashes and internally for treating gastritis and ulcers.

Amelanchier spp. (Juneberries) – These purple berries are juicy and delicious. The shrub can be found in thickets and woods from Canada to Georgia. The berries make excellent jellies and can be eaten fresh, cooked and dried. (Peterson, p. 220)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot) – Dried leaves and flower heads make a delicious tea. Medicinally the tea was used to expel worms and gas. Indians used the leaf tea for stomachaches, fevers, nosebleeds, insomnia and heart trouble. Essential oil, carvacrol, is high in anesthetic, worm-expelling, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and diuretic activity. (Peterson, p.118; Foster and Duke, p. 209)

Plants in center of quilt, clockwise from left:

Lilium canadense (Canada lily) – Indians used the root tea for stomach ailments, irregular menses, dysentery, rheumatism, and root poultice for snakebites.

The bulb was also used as a cooked vegetable. (Foster and Duke, p. 152; Peterson, p. 74)

Rosa eglanteria (sweetbrier rose) – Rose hips are used to make a delicious jam and syrup. Fresh or dried hips, fresh petals and leaves can be steeped in hot water to make a tea.. Hips are rich in Vitamin C and make excellent survival food in the winter. (Peterson, p. 106)

Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke) – One of the best wild food plants. Tubers can be substituted for potatoes. Indians used the leaf and stalk tea or ate flowers to treat rheumatism. Tubers were eaten to treat diabetes in folk medicine. (Peterson, p. 88; Foster and Duke, p. 147)

Arctium minus (common burdock) – Traditionally used as a root tea for “purifying” the blood, as a diuretic and digestion aid. Also used for gout, liver and kidney ailments and rheumatism. Seeds were used for abscesses, sore throats, insect and snake bites, scarlet fever and smallpox. Tender young leaves and peeled roots can be cooked and eaten. (Foster and Duke, p. 188; Peterson, p. 126) Interestingly burdock root has been used in two well known controversial herbal anticancer therapies; Essiac ® and Hoxsey formula® . Although clinical studies are lacking, several pharmacological studies indicate that burdock roots have antiviral, antibacterial, and possible anticancer effects.