my friend, the "witch"
The berries of European Buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica. It is an import that escaped from gardens many years ago. It is so widely dispersed now that people might assume it's indigenous. The fruits have a strong laxative effect and have been used to make a syrup for that purpose.
Extremely unpleasant tasting, the berries are also somewhat poisonous to humans.
D. is a fibre-friend of mine, an expert spinner and weaver. She once told me a story about experimenting with the berries of buckthorn for her dye-pot. She was drying some berries in her oven and started to feel overcome, quite unwell. Fortunately for her, her husband happened to come in and realized what was happening. The berries were removed and taken outside, windows opened, and the house aired out, etc. And my friend started to feel better! She believes the fumes from the fruit drying in her oven is what had made her ill.
Many of the kids, and maybe even some adults too, in her neighbourhood suspect my friend is a witch. This is because she can often been found outside on her back deck, standing over a large boiling cauldron/dye pot, experimenting with dyes and fibres.
It doesn't hurt that she strikes a wonderfully imposing image as well: a big mop of long reddish-black curly hair, big earrings, multi-layered clothing that comfortably drapes an ample figure. She also favors black and other dark colours and often wears very dramatic, dark lipstick and nailpolish.
D. is often to be found at country fairs and fibre meets, seated at her spinning wheel, giving demonstrations of the ancient art. As likely as not, she'll be barefoot, wearing a silver toe-ring or two.
She's quite simply, a marvel!