Notes about writing, landscape, and life in the Texas Hill Country


"We keep each other alive with our stories. We need to share them, as much as we need to share food. We also require for our health the presence of good companions. One of the most extraordinary things about the land is that it knows this—and it compels language from some of us so that as a community we may converse about this or that place, and speak of the need."
Barry Lopez

"As much as we live in a place, we live in place; we inhabit a condition of the soul. We live where we have made definitions, and in the process of making definitions, we create a place in which to live."
Sallie Tisdale

"The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction."
Rachel Carson

"I can see myself beginning to fashion what I need: new pathways to solitude, new ways of looking at time and at time alone, new ways of conceiving a notion of place, and other ways, if not new ones, to create places apart."
Jacqueline Jones Royster

"There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story."
Linda Hogan


Susan's Hill Country Journal
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Susan Wittig Albert
Ph.D. UC Berkley

author of
China Bayles Herbal Mysteries
Robin Paige Victorian Mysteries
(as Robin Paige)
Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter
Writing From Life
Work of Her Own

Contributing editor:
Country Living Gardener Magazine
writing teacher
garden columnist
Founder: Story Circle Network

Bulletin Board
A Map of MeadowKnoll
All text/photos
©2003-2005 Susan Wittig Albert

The Edwards Plateau, Central Texas
The Edwards Plateau, Central Texas

Familiar Plants of the Edwards Plateau
History and Change on the Plateau
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge
(10 miles south of MeadowKnoll)
habitat description, wildlife lists
The Edwards Aquifer
The Trinity Aquifer
Our Weather

Story Circle Network
The experience of Katrina is an experience of place, located at the intersections of the natural and human-made worlds. If you have a Katrina story to tell, the Story Circle Network invites you to record it here, and to read others' stories:

Killer Plants

Ecotone: Writing About Place

Friday, April 01, 2005  
Bridal wreath and aspirin. The Bridal wreath spirea (Spiraea cantoniensis) that grows along the creek is blooming just now, mounds of white blossoms spilling over the green bank at the foot of the cypress tree.

I love this plant for the purity of its blossoms, the white grace of its arching branches, and for its interesting history. Willow (Salix sp.) is widely known to provide a good natural remedy for headaches, fever, and muscular aches. In fact, it is the source from which aspirin (salicylic acid) was derived, back in 1828. That’s when Johann Buchner, professor of pharmacy at the University of Munich, chemically isolated a minute amount of yellow, needle-like crystals, which he called salicin. His discovery didn’t encourage people to abandon willow as a pain-killer, though, because salicin (the word was coined from the Latin salix) upset the stomach and left a bitter taste in the mouth. Ten years later, it was learned that the herb meadowsweet (Spirea alba, now called Filipendula ulmaria) also contained salicin—as does Bridal wreath and other Spiraea. The extraction process was improved, salicin was "buffered" with additives, and a compound called acetylsalicylic acid was produced, which had fewer negative side effects. It took more tinkering, but on March 6, 1899, the Bayer Company was ready to apply for a patent. The new drug was to be called aspirin: a for acetylsalicylic and spirin for Spirea. Think about that the next time you see one of these beautiful plants gracing the landscape.

Taking a break. I’m packing for the road trip, so this will be my last entry for about a month. However, there’s plenty of archive material on this site, so you’re not likely to run out of reading material. And If you want to keep track of where I am (and maybe stop in and say hello), here’s the itinerary. Hope to see you somewhere along the tour route

Reading Notes. Traveling to a strange new landscape is a kind of romance. You become intensely aware of the world where you are, but also oblivious to the rest of the world at the same time. Like love, travel makes you innocent again.—Dianne Ackerman

4/01/2005 02:27:00 PM


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