Sunday, August 1, 2021

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Summer becomes full so fast. The garden now feels endlessly generous and more than I can receive on any day. Pesto is on everything this summer, and tomatoes…everywhere gorgeous pops of red. I’ve been keeping things intentionally very simple this season. Keeping my teas to two herbs or less. Keeping my daily schedule as light as possible. Keeping my recipes down to beans, veggies from the garden, greens and fruit cobblers. Keeping time down by the river as bookends to my day. I find that summer is a great time to unplug the internet when work is done and the weekends stretch out. Tending space, harvesting, watching the sun come up and the fireflies come out are treasures of daily existence. Like sunkissed cherry tomatoes first thing in the morning.

Kitchari with fennel, ginger, cumin, turmeric & chard.

Thistle, covered with bees and pollinators.

A new garden shed mural 🙂

Making corners of the house inviting book nooks with squishy linen Bloomist pillows.

Every week, fresh flowers from the garden and new vase arrangements. Perpetually practicing flower art.

And a simple summer tea recipe with hibiscus + rosehips

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The midway point between spring and summer, this time of year in the blue ridge mountains is predictably blissful. The air is warm and cool as the storms roll through, and windows open all night is one of the precursors to the best dreams. The garden has more energy under that blanket of teaming compost than any of those seeds were expecting. The rain smells so good. The sun still rays until almost 8. And new aromatic herbs are popping up in their formerly claimed spots. I found field mint on May 1, just where it left itself last year, and what a pure and simple delight it was to find a Beltane treasure for making field mint tea.

Field mint has a more rugged, earthy, wind swept flavor than peppermint, and a less intense minty bite than spearmint. It’s heaven, absolutely carefree spring flavored heaven when you quickly steep it, then re-steep it, and then re-steep it again. It just keeps giving and giving.

Read more: The Grounding Magic of Tea Ritual

The past couple of years have encouraged me to notice and appreciate how the best things in life really are the more simple ones. I’ve been keeping my tea blends that way, too. One or two together mingling in the mug. This time fresh fieldmint leaves and dried rosebuds. I can acknowledge them individually that way, and frankly, I wish I went down the simpler [herbal] avenues earlier. But, here we are. Happy Beltane, and cheers in your own simplicity.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

I finally took this Sunday to wake up early, 5:30am, walk down to the river just by my house and see the Virginia bluebells in the predawn hour. They’ve been blooming for the past week, and stop me in my tracks every day I walk near them. When I go for woodland walks in the spring, I’m reminded of how alive with magical energy I always felt when I was a child playing in the woods. Every part of the spring woods felt ethereal, and spending time in spaces like this fueled my imagination and creativity. I feel endlessly lucky to have been a woods kid. To not even have the option of screens growing up was such a gift to my 90’s childhood. I use the woods as my soul reprieve still.

I go for woodland walks every day. In my backyard there are lush Appalachian woods, covered under snow in the winter, and blooming with Virginia bluebells in early spring. I’ve been eager to capture these Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) in the predawn morning light since the beginning of spring. They bloom here in the rich woods by the river in the first few weeks of spring, and are every day an invitation to stop and stay a while, and admire them while they’re here…which isn’t very long. Within a few weeks, they disappear. Left are the mayapples, soon to have little underside blooms for the turtles to feast on through the spring, and the creek to feed the river, soon to be warm enough for early morning and late evening swims…

Like many, I’ve spent the majority of the past year mostly alone. Having recently moved into my little cottage that took me a year to build, having this year to nest and settle into the incredible beauty of this space has been a quarantine dream. I’ve never minded being alone. Most of my life I’ve preferred it, but I do crave my deeply rooted friendship company and visits with my family. I never feel lonely here though. It may be the constant companionship of my dog. Or it may be all the time I spend outside, feeling so connected and absorbed in the embrace of nature. Spending time out here alone is predictably comforting. It teaches me to go more slowly and notice every single new thing that wasn’t there yesterday. And not miss too much the beauty that just vanished because I swooned over it as much as I could while it was here. Today is one of those days, spent outside with the bluebells, communing with the mayapples and resting by the creek. I hope each of you, in whatever season you’re experiencing in the world, have the time and space to connect with nature near you and bring it into your home and soul, too.

Read More: October in the Blue Ridge

Are you curious to learn how to identify and forage the herbs and flowers near you? Explore the Foraging Course from The Herbal Academy to get started on your botanical adventures in your own backyard.