I am absolutely in love with my cleansing oils infused with fresh spring evergreen growth! Spring comes late high in the rocky mountains. I have been watching and waiting, finally a few days ago the buds of the evergreen trees began to burst open .... so off to the forest on this bright June day (6/12) to prepare a new batch!
KEY COMPONENTS OF FRESH EVERGREEN GROWTH - VITAMIN C!
Fresh evergreen needles are rich in Vitamin C, not commonly found in high amounts in trees. But in the spring the fresh needles are an exception. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells and has antioxidant qualities. Vitamin C is a crucial component of collagen, which is necessary to create new cells, muscles, tissues, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is known to boost collagen production, brighten skin tone, assist in the healing process, and has been found to improve break-out prone skin. Beta Carotene, the precursor of Vitamin A is found in the needles and bark.
Not far from home I meandered through the forest. It is a very warm day following a cold rainy spring. The delicate purple Pasque flowers have bloomed and most have gone to seed. The iconic Lupine are beginning to flower and Oregon Grape is coming to life, their delicate yellow blossoms giving off their delicious aroma in the hopes of enticing one of the many species of ground dwelling native wild bees whose small homes are made in rocky outcroppings here at 9.000' in the central Colorado Rockies. These are hard working bees who need every bit of honey they can make to survive the long cold winters we experience here.
As I wander along the trail I harvest the very tips of the pine and spruce trees I pass. These sprays of fresh, bright green needles are just emerging from the tips of the branches of the conifer trees - the color is the very definition of "spring green" - bright and fresh, soft and tender, these new shoots are known to be a rich source of vitamin C so I snack on them as I move through the forest, collecting my bounty.
The fresh growth is tart and astringent, trees leaves are not generally a source of vitamin C, fresh conifer needles are an exception. The fresh needles are abundant and I quickly fill one of my baskets. Standing here in the forest I can imagine the moment i open the jar to meet the uplifting, intoxicating aroma of the forest which is known to be help people struggling with fatigue.
I harvest from a varieties of trees; subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, blue spruce, rocky mountain juniper, Douglas fir. I find a few chunks of hardened tree resin on the ground beneath a very large old tree and put that in my basket. I stop at the base of a young spruce. It is covered with tiny red cones just bursting forth, in a few days these little spruce berries (not a technical term!) will develop a small red flowers at their ends. I look hard for them for my basket but it is a few days too soon. In a bit all of the cones will have these lovely little bright flowers that hardly anyone notices!
I stop to investigate the lodgepoles along the trail, looking for fresh needles which are just barely emerging, some of the fresh stalks at the ends of all the branches have small fresh cones developing, while on others needles are just beginning to protrude from the stalk.
I include just a bit of the tree resin (resin is the correct term not gum, sap, etc) which enhances the antimicrobial, analgesic, antifungal, and antiseptic properties of my cleansing oil blends. The resin is also a disinfectant. It can be melted into oil for massage or made into salves, known to be warming, stimulating both blood flow and the local immune response. I add about 1 tablespoon of my crushed resin to 1/2 gallon jar of infusing plant material.
When I get home I will crush and chop up this bounty then slowly infuse it into a blend of lightly refined organic avocado and high heat organic grapeseed oil. After a time steeping, the constituents and aroma of the forest will be infused into the oil; I will strained it to reveal a clear, deep forest green oil. This I will include in my OCM Cleansing Oil blends.