A Maine herbalist spent 3 weeks helping the sick and wounded at Standing Rock

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: What happens when you drop everything and head to Standing Rock with a truck filled with medicinal herbs; the opioid crisis in Maine has killed more people than car crashes; and great advice about making art.

Steve Columbus shovels heavy, wet snow in front of the Westin Hotel on High Street in Portland Monday morning. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

Steve Columbus shovels heavy, wet snow in front of the Westin Hotel on High Street in Portland Monday morning. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

What we’re talking about

A Maine herbalist spent 3 weeks helping the sick and wounded at Standing RockKathleen Pierce spoke with Lauren Pignatello, who owns Milk and Honey Cafe of Swallowtail Farm in East Bayside, about her three-week stint working at the medic tent at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

The homeopathic healer loaded her truck with milk thistle, tea, medicinal plants, the natural yogurt and kefir she is known for, and headed west, leaving her seven children, ages 2 to 20, with her husband, Sean. …

When she arrived at a camp near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, her first-aid experience found instant use. She was pressed into service healing those injured in the fight to protect the Missouri River — and local drinking water — from an oil pipeline.

Pignatello said she lived in a teepee, where she worked for 16 hours per day, and estimates she helped about 600 people during her time there — everyone from “the wounded, to people with colds and flus.”

Armed with homeopathic remedies and herbal concoctions to ameliorate shock and trauma, she treated people for hypothermia, concussions and wounds, and she helped alleviate the chemical effects of pepper spray from protesters’ skin, she said.

Opioid overdoses are killing more Mainers than car crashes — Darren Fishell writes:

Drug overdose deaths caused by heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids last year surpassed the number of motor vehicle deaths on Maine roads for the first time, according to new federal statistics.

The latest figures put a state and national crisis into stark relief. Nationwide, heroin overdoses surpassed gun homicides in 2015, a Washington Post analysis found.

In Maine, the gap between motor vehicle deaths and opioid overdoses has narrowed almost as quickly as at the national level. As recently as 2011, motor vehicle deaths outnumbered heroin and fentanyl overdose deaths by almost nine to one in Maine.

Eventide Oyster Co, is opening a new spot near Fenway Park —  Pro tip: Get in line now. Portland’s slamming oyster bar plans to open a second outpost in Boston soon. According to Boston Magazine, Eventide Fenway, on Boylston Street, will join the rapidly gentrifying Fenway neighborhood near the park. — Kathleen Pierce

‘You have what you need to make art’ — Peter McLaughlin wrote this great Facebook post about his friend and former Bowdoin College professor, composer Elliott Schwartz, who died last week. Here’s my favorite part:

Elliott once told me that if you asked him to write a piece of music, nothing would come out. However, if you told him, you wanted him to write a piece of music for four clarinets, as a tribute to your late uncle Fred, who was a Francophile and cat-lover, and it has to be done by next Friday, all of a sudden a piece is taking form in his brain. This has been a guiding principle of all my music-making ever since. Art does not exist in a vacuum. You create with the tools you have, in the framework you are given, with all the limitations and possibilities. With that, you try to make something interesting and perhaps, beautiful. And beyond that, you don’t need all the tools and all the time. You have what you need to make art. Great art’s been made with less. You just need to create, and create again.

King and Pingree back probe on possible Russian meddling in Trump’s election — Mike Shepherd reports:

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday that he’s also in favor of a probe. He told CNN on Monday that Trump shouldn’t “blow off” Clapper.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, said in a statement that the CIA’s assessment of Russian influence is “frightening and represents a threat to our nation,” calling for swift hearings “to get to the bottom of this situation.”

But Maine’s Republicans were less emphatic, though they indicated concern about Russian cyberattacks.

A Narrow Gauge railroad fireman proposed to his girlfriend by the tracks — The group writes on its Facebook page: “We had a little romance on the rails tonight when a fireman on the steam engine — and a long-time volunteer — proposed to his girlfriend during the Polar Express. (She said ‘Yes.’)”

The Portland Museum of Art got a huge check  — Christmas came early for the Congress Square museum, which received a $5 million matching gift toward its endowment, Maine Biz reported. And as part of the museum’s two-year Your Museum Reimagined campaign, the PMA closes for five weeks in January to reinstall its collection throughout the museum. It reopens Feb. 3.

Tweet of the day

From Krister Rollins (context, this was part of a conversation with himself that started with the definition of a country):

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The Big Idea

‘The graffiti kids who sparked the Syrian war’ — From the Globe and Mail: “Naief Abazid had no inkling that he was about to launch a revolution, or anything else that has followed. He was just doing what the bigger kids told him to.”

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.