EDEN CLEARBROOK | GARDEN OF EDEN | West Marin
On a misty July morning in 1980, Eden Clearbrook and her blond-haired daughter Eve Love took a walk through the woods near the Bolinas lagoon. Eve Love, who had just started walking, carried a small basket, and together they harvested wild plantain and mallow leaves. 35 years have passed since that morning, but in Eden’s mind, the memory is still bright and lucid. It was that day, Eve’s first birthday, that they made their first healing salve together from local plants—comfrey root and calendula, in addition to the plantain and mallow. This salve was the beginning of Eden’s apothecary and would sustain her—and many others—for years to come.
Along a small pedestrian walkway connecting 3rd and 4th Streets in Point Reyes Station, the Garden of Eden Apothecary is, as the name suggests, a sanctuary of herbs, plants, and dried botanicals. Homemade concoctions, creams, and ointments in glass jars of every size are lined up on shelves along the walls. The air is fragrant and warm, and the yellowish light of Himalayan salt lamps emanates a hazy glow throughout the shop. The apothecary is a foothold in the community now, having occupied this space for 18 years. “People show up from all over the world,” says Eden. She believes people are drawn to the space for its healing qualities the way she was drawn to West Marin over four decades ago. “Nature brought me to West Marin,” she says. “Love brought me here.”
For Eden, the plants were the earthly delights that brought her back to the garden. And now she is the gardener, tending, mending, and planting seeds—and the garden is growing lavishly.
The plants healed her, but the wounds had deep roots. At the age of 17, Eden left her home in Paris, France, moving first to London, then British Columbia, and briefly sojourning on the Atlantic coast before arriving in West Marin. She chased love after love, she remembers, and suffered several heartbreaks. Her family history too was tragic and painful, affected deeply by the nightmarish Nazi invasion of France in the early 1940s. Her grandmother, a nurse, hid two Jewish girls in her apartment, before they were discovered and taken away by the French police. “The fabric of the culture was so shredded,” Eden recalls. But it was also this scarring—by violence, by terror, by war—that instilled in her a deep desire for peace. “Peace begins with me,” she says.
Eden remembers her first trip to the Bay Area—she attended a June wedding under a Sierra blue sky. Out in the sun, “I was baking under the essential oils of a California Bay Laurel,” she says. She was smitten with the area and moved to Bolinas shortly thereafter. She began learning about the land, going on herbal walks, identifying weeds, and growing her own garden of medicinal plants, all the while steeping herself in the study of Sufism and Tibetan Buddhism. “I was looking for wonderful, nourishing activities to heal my broken heart.” Since then, herbal healing has become the crux of Eden’s work. “The plants are my beloveds,” she says, in a reverberating, sing-song voice. Among her most precious botanicals, she counts stinging nettles, chickweed, cleavers, and the bay laurel—“all my beautiful wild people,” she calls them.
Behind her red-rimmed glasses, Eden’s eyes grow wide and excited and her voice as she speaks exuberantly about the salves she has made over the years by combining harvested herbs with organic olive oil. The first was the Bio-Regional Healing Salve, followed by Lavendula Salve, Yoni Flower Salve, and St. John’s Worst Salve. Many others followed. “Every batch is brand new,” says Eden. “I have an eternal love relationship with salve.” The hope of every salve, as the word’s Germanic root suggests, is to heal, to restore wholeness in bodies and spirits that have been trodden and torn. For Eden, the plants were the earthly delights that brought her back to the garden. And now she is the gardener, tending, mending, and planting seeds—and the garden is growing lavishly.