I'm a great believer in events happening for a reason and this is true of very old books I have been fortunate to collect. My favourite is The People's Home Library which I found by 'accident' in a bookstore in Cairns in 1989 or 90. My eldest daughter returned from Darwin unexpectedly and I drove to Cairns to pick her up from the coach but while I was waiting for her I wandered in to a second hand bookstore to browse and immediately came upon this old book. It was copyrighted in 1910 and published in 1924. It's a library of three practical books: The People's Home Medical Book; The People's Home Recipe Book; and The People's Stock Book. All three have the most wonderful and interesting information, for instance, treatment for an enlarged or inflamed prostate gland is: "rest in bed, regulate the bowels, and apply leeches to the perineum or apply fomentations of hops. Give mild drinks to render the urine mild." Homeopathic treatment is recommended as well: "Give the third trituration of Conium 4 times a day. There are instructions for canning and preserving vegetables and fruits and many delightful old recipes for main meals, cakes and biscuits. Of course my favourite section in this old book is the Herb Department which is a large chapter in The People's Medical Book. Describing asparagus the author states that "the plant has the actions of diuretic and heart sedative."
Last Sunday my husband and I decided to go for a drive and found ourselves in a small town about an hour's drive from our place. The local markets were on so we called in to take a look at the five stalls. I walked up to a stall with second-hand items for sale and right in front of me was The Reader's Digest Complete Library of the Garden, a three volume set of the most delightful books. I couldn't believe the set was still for sale as we were late and the stalls were starting to pack up. Naturally, I bought the set and when I returned home and looked through them I was thrilled to see a section on growing herbs.
My most remarkable encounter for books turning up unexpectedly began in 1983 when a friend, who was a local business owner in the small town my family and I lived in, told me he had been diagnosed with cancer and was given six months to live. At that time I had a lovely book, Medical Mother, written by Lady Cilento and given to me by my mum. I treasured this book but decided to lend it to the man's wife thinking she might find some information that would help her husband with his illness. Subsequently our friend passed away exactly six months after he was diagnosed. It was a very sad time for his wife and she never returned the book to me and I didn't ask her for it. In 1991 my mum and I went to my youngest daughter's school fete; I walked up to the second-hand book stall and sitting on top of all of the books for sale was Medical Mother. I couldn't believe my eyes and purchased it for the large sum of twenty cents. Although it's not the book my mum gave to me it's still very precious because she did originally give me the book of the same title and it has special memories of the time when our friend passed from cancer. Over the years this book has been a very helpful reference for me and has survived cylones, fires and floods as the first book in this story has.
There is no doubt in my mind that we are often led to things that are important to us and I don't believe that this happens by coincidence or chance but is somehow purposely done and meant to be.
Proprietor, author, and tutor of The Home Herbalist Online Course.