Goldenrod--a welcome sign of autumn. A cold (well, cool) front yesterday, another one coming. The goldenrod is ready, and so am I. The last of the golden summer sunflowers are joined by the early autumn goldenrod. The genus name of this remarkable plant, Solidago, means “to make whole”; it has been used as a healing herb since ancient times. The goldenrod market perked up when Solidago was discovered growing in great plenty in the American colonies. The colonists cut and dried the plant, baled it, and shipped it to England, where it was sold in the apothecary shops. Traveling all those miles, it was pricey: Two ounces of goldenrod might fetch a gold crown.
For Native Americans, goldenrod was free. It was a staple medicine, and since some two dozen species grow across the continent, nearly every tribe was within arm’s reach of at least one. Called “sun medicine,” it was used to treat everything from wounds and fevers to rheumatism and toothache. It was also used as a charm, smoked like tobacco, woven into baskets, burned as an incense, and made into a dye. And if that’s not enough to demonstrate the significance of this golden plant, consider this: Learning that goldenrod sap contained a natural latex, Thomas Edison, that relentless inventor, bred the plant to increase its latex yield. He then produced a resilient, long-lasting rubber that Henry Ford made into a set of tires for his own personal automobile. Edison was still experimenting with his rubber when he died in 1931. His research was turned over to the U.S. government, which apparently found it of little importance, even when rubber became almost impossible to get during World War II. Goldenrod rubber. Fancy that.
I think of Edison and Ford and those goldenrod tires every time I see this plant.
Oh, and one more thing: goldenrod does not make you sneeze. Unfortunately, it's often confused with ragweed. Don't believe me? Read about it from the University of Minnesota.
Book report. The latest (and maybe the last) Darling Dahlias mystery, The Darling Dahlias and the Eleven O'Clock Lady (#6) is out. Happy to report that it earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The last? Well, maybe. My editor would like me to continue with that series, but I have other projects in mind--other than mysteries, that is. I'm currently working on #25 in the China Bayles series, The Last Chance Olive Ranch. The biggest challenge: keeping the work fresh and lively, not just for readers but for myself.
Maybe that's why I'm enjoying the challenge of publishing my own work. Loving Eleanor (the story of the intimate friendship of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok) is back from the copy editor and I worked on the cleanup of that manuscript last week. I'm thinking ahead to next month, when the ARCs are ready to go and the pre-launch publicity work kicks in. Daunting, scary, difficult--but exciting. Publishing A Wilder Rose taught me much, and I'm sure that Loving Eleanor will be a huge learning experience, too.
Which brings me to this: if you are a book blogger and would like a review copy of Loving Eleanor, let me know. It will be available both in print (for selected bloggers) and Netgalley. Email me at susanalbert01 at gmail dot com, with a link to your book blog. Books now have a much longer shelf life than they did back in the day when they were available only through brick-and-mortar bookstores and garage sales, and I'd love to see this one reviewed and read as widely as possible. It's an important story about women's friendship.
Reading note: The shelf life of a modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yogurt.--Calvin Trillen