The Sun is conducting a series of interviews with folks you may not have seen in the paper before – a sort of introduction to your neighbors. This week we caught up with Sarah “Sunny” Morehouse, a certified herbalist, enthusiastic musician and empathetic thinker.
Q: How did you come to live in the Roaring Fork Valley?
A: I was actually headed up for a farm educator job in Alaska and I had a friend who was going to look at CRMPI (Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute). I went kind of on a whim and that was the winter of 2011. There was only Stephanie Syson, her daughter and Jerome up there at the time. They talked to us in Phoenix, the greenhouse, and they offered us bananas and passion fruit and I was pretty much sold.
Q: What are you doing currently?
A: Well, my classes at Colorado Mountain College are focused on local, edible and medicinal plants -native and adapted. The series is called Materia Medica which is essentially the name of an herbalist journal. A major focus is using plants that grow around you because they grow around you to help you for a specific region.
Q: Where did you passion for plants come from?
A: To be honest, I really don’t know because no one in my family is particularly interested and I didn’t have an elder growing up that was showing me about this. The first thing that I can remember is harvesting wild raspberries and wild onions on my parent’s property with my neighbor and making little chutneys and jams.
We had no idea what they were and our parents didn’t even know we were making them so we just got lucky that we didn’t die or get sick … I think that as I got older and was kind of a conflicted teenager, nature became more and more a place of solace. Then I started getting health complications and all of my experiences with Western medicine have been somewhat traumatic and non-helpful and that drove me further into the world of trying to treat myself naturally and then getting interested in teaching other people.
Q: You are also known locally for your music, right?
A: I really got interested in playing physical instruments because I wanted to sing. Singing to me is like the equivalent of going to church. You just let it all out. It’s like a confession, and confessing that part of your soul to a crowd of people who can enjoy the sound and maybe even dance to it is just this unbelievable high and then pairing that with other people and their voices or their instruments is like a bliss. It’s amazing. When all of the tuning is on and the harmonies are on, it’s like your cells vibrate.
Q: Anything you’d like to share about your new husband or day-to-day life?
A: Well, he’s probably hands down the best thing that has ever happened to me. We live on top of Cottonwood Pass in a small, somewhat rural cabin on 35 acres. I feel like the way that my husband and I want to live is at a pace that doesn’t always match the way that the culture and the commerce here works. We have so much here that we love in family and friends and woods that we’re just trying to piece it all together, one day at a time.
Q: What lessons have you learned?
A: I’ve always got twelve irons in the fire, a thousand projects, but none of them mean anything if I don’t take the time to sit and do nothing near some kind of plant. It could be a patch of grass or it could be a huge forest. It can be in your backyard, it can be a local park, it can be on a vacation — but just being quiet, asking for guidance from the natural world and not taking yourself as the highest source, has been and continues to be really crucial for my personal sanity.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: I’m also a therapist. I have become interested in helping people on a mental health level and to me that is one of the biggest crises that I see in terms of my own world and the community and the wider globe of the human race … There’s the difference between true chemical systemic imbalances in a person’s brain and body and just the daily basic insanity that has become the norm for most Americans.
You can contact Morehouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and register for Materia Medica through CMC Carbondale. If you know someone who should be featured in Our Town, email firstname.lastname@example.org.