June: Love is in the Earth
No price is set on the lavish summer
June may be had by the poorest comer
James Russell Lowell
In June we celebrate the invisible light of love. Like clear air, the crystal waters, and the mothers who catch our tears, the earth nourishes and receives us without exception. She takes her cue from the sun. “Even after all this time,” says the the poet Hafiz, “the sun never says to the earth, you owe me. Look what happens with a love like that: it lights the whole world.”
Halfway around the calendar from Christmas, June brings summer solstice. Berries reaching ripeness, clover dotting the meadow, elder blossomming over streams.
“What is a weed?” asks Emerson. “A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Or rather, one whose virtues are not sold in stores. A weed is a plant that grows where people want something else. A gift forsaken, its love goes unrequitted. But weeds are humans' idea, not nature’s.
The sun loves you, you think, just as the rose.
He never scorned you for a weed; he knows.
The green-gold flies rest on you and are glad,
It’s only cross old gardeners find you bad.
Gertrude Hall, “To a Weed,” 1896
Of the twenty plants most despised by men, more than half are edible (Holm, The World’s Worst Weeds). Several are featured in this series, including chickweed, dandelion, and next month’s special guest, lambsquarter. But first, meet perhaps the most simultaneously hated and beneficial herb on Earth, the queen of tough love, stinging nettle. When it comes to this green witch’s medicine, beauty’s in the hand of the beholder!