The other day, I passed along a hedge of wild Rosa rugosa dripping with rose hips. Normally, I would've slammed on the breaks and run back to gather a goodly bunch. But I had just enough time to get to an appointment, so I made a mental note to go back the next day.

Yes. You guessed it. That mental note pulled a Mission Impossible trick and self-destroyed. I didn’t think it about until when I was walking my dog yesterday on one of his favorite dirt roads and saw that the elderberries are just right for harvesting to make elderberry syrup and extract. I didn’t have my clippers or a basket with me so I plucked an “umbrella” of elderberries to bring home. I put it on the table so’s I’d see it and remember the next day. But other things cropped up and, yeah, I haven’t got my elderberries yet, either.

However, if I don’t get back in the next few days, it may be too late for both the rose hips and the elderberries. That’s the way it is in Maine. Time and ripe berries march along and you have wait until “next year.” I’ve already missed my July gathering of St. John’s Wort from our fields that are littered with it in July. And right now, the goldenrod is in full bloom, but will soon be gone until next August.

And now we’re coming to apple season in full swing…and apple seeds.

All these gifts from our fields, roadsides and orchards have preventive medicine benefits that can both ward off colds, flu and allergies, and make jams, wine, cider and teas.

The mighty rose hip, also sometimes referred to as “rose haw,” is jam-packed with Vitamin C, for a start. I use them in two ways. I eat them when they’re ripe, like mini-apples, right off the bushes. They taste like a cross between the little green apples your grammie told you would give you a tummy-ache (they never did) and a ripe red apple.

The other way is too slice them in half and dry them in the sun for a day or two, then bring them inside and spread out on cookie sheets and cake pans and let dry for about two weeks and then put in jars. If they aren’t totally, totally dry, they will mold.

To ward off colds and flu, drink a cup of rose hip tea two-three times a day. About six dried halves per cup should do it. I steep them 10 minutes, then add a spoon of organic raw honey. Local is best.

Rose hips also boost the immune system, helps with respiratory conditions and increase circulation, among other benefits.

Who hasn’t heard about elderberry syrup as a staple, also, for cold and flu season? It also soothes sore throats. And they make a great jam as well as a mighty fine wine.

I gather goldenrod and hang upside down in my kitchen to dry for tea as well. The poor, maligned goldenrod has a misplaced bad reputation. It’s most often blamed for bringing on allergies when it actually helps prevent allergies. The real culprit is ragweed that blooms at the same time and looks quite similar to goldenrod.

Goldenrod makes a mild, sweet tea. I sometimes also add a bit of honey. Honey is a super antibiotic as well as being antibacterial. It’s been used for food and medicine for thousands of years. It doesn’t spoil.

It’s crucial, however, to get real honey. Much, perhaps most, of what’s now sold for honey, isn’t. (YouTube it. You need to know what you're being sold. I use only raw, organic, local honey. I reason it really isn’t more expensive when I factor in the health benefits.)

And now the apples are busy ripening on the trees. The old saw, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” points to the health benefits of the mighty apple. They also give us cider and vinegar.

Vinegar is worth a whole book on its own. Maybe one of its best benefits is to keep us “in balance.” Although an acid, it turns alkaline in the body, one of the easiest and best ways to keep us in the optimal PH balance range.

I start each day with a little less than a teaspoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of cider vinegar (organic of course) in a glass of warm water a half-hour before anything else ― even coffee.

But perhaps the most powerful health benefit from apples is their seeds. There is a warning: “Eat a cup of apple seeds and you could die.” This is true. That’s because one constituent of apple seeds is cyanide.

Apple seeds, as well as apricot seeds, almonds and others, contain Vitamin B17 and laetrile, which work in sync with cyanide, to act on the same idea as vaccinations ― but without the aluminum and other harmful ingredients.

But here’s where the admonition "moderation all things” kicks in. A cup of apple seeds can, indeed, do you great harm. You eat apple seeds the way nature presents them ― in an apple. Eat the apple and its seeds. Don’t eat more than that “dose.”

Nature is quite extraordinary. It packages its “medicines” with the correct doses and in the right seasons needed. And they cost little to zero.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.