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Article: Babies and Colicroot: Spiderwebs (in response to Dollykat)

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CalamityJeanne
Duluth, MN

September 7, 2009
6:25 AM

Post #7035078

I've never heard of colicroot either, and am still thankful eleven years later that my one and only child was not a colicky baby.

However, I have heard of spiderwebs being used to stanch heavy bleeding. My great-grandmother, Amelia Hermine Gervais Gravelle, was born in the early 1870s to French-Canadian parents near Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, in the northwestern corner of the state. She was one of seven sisters. The Gervais girls were well-known for their dark handsome good looks and their skills at the housewifely arts, which back then included nursing and pharmacy.

Eventually the entire Gervais clan moved to Two Harbors, on the north shore of Lake Superior, and Amelia met and married my great-grandfather Alexandre. It wasn't long before she began to earn a reputation as a skilled midwife. My dad's dad, Arthur (1901-1974) once told my dad that he remembered his mother sending him and his brothers on a fairly regular basis out to the neighbors' barns and sheds to gather old spiderwebs, because his mother used them for heavy bleeding during a delivery. My dad, who has a degree in chemistry and worked for years for a pharmaceutical company, later read that spiderwebs have a component that acts as a blood clotting factor.

It is entirely possible that this is something the native Americans and Canadians came up with. As descendants of old French-Canadian families we have plenty of native Canadians in our family tree. Too bad nobody's been willing to admit to it until just recently.

Amelia also regularly made wine. My dad has an ancient typewritten document with all of her wine recipes. She made it from strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, chokecherries, dandelions, clover, beets, you name it. She continued her winemaking activities during Prohibition, and as long as the chief of police and the guy who was in charge of enforcing Prohibition in Two Harbors got their couple of bottles from every batch, she was in no danger of being arrested.
Sharran
Calvert City, KY
(Zone 7a)

September 7, 2009
2:01 PM

Post #7035636

CJ,
What a great story. You should be writing of your cultural heritage, too, you have a nice way with words.

I wish I remembered what I know about spiderwebs, but I don't, and haven't found any of it in written form. I guess it's enough that I know about plants.

Strangely enough, my husband's stepmother was French Canadian. I learned a lot from her, but nothing about plants and medicines. She lived in east Texas on the gulf and as a result I can make delicious gumbo and a few other things, but that's all. I do have a lot of her recipes.
She too was beautiful with that black wavy hair, and was very small.

You know, the things I learned are important, a part of my heritage, a part of my culture, and that's why I write of them. I don't want the plants to become extinct and forgotten, nor do I want their value to be lost. I didn't realize I felt that way until recently. We are who we are because of that heritage.

Thank you so very much for sharing your story. It is for sure spiderwebs will be on my mind all day. I hope you are enjoying your long weekend.
Sharon

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