"If they would eat nettles in March, and Mugwort in May, so many fine maidens would not go to the clay"
- the Funeral Song of a Scottish Mermaid
In The KitchenI always have a jar of dried, powdered Nettle by the stove. (I use a coffee grinder that I set aside especially for powdering herbs.) Nettle is great this way as an addition to pasta sauce, soup, and any kind of casserole or stew. Because she has a neutral flavor (think parsley), you can pull one over on a finicky spouse, child, or dinner guest.
The mercury is dipping...
All those mason jars on the kitchen counter! It was the only sensible place to put the overflow of my tincture making operation in mid-summer, so I had trained my eyes to overlook the clutter and see only the nice, clean (sometimes) parts of the kitchen... the end result being that I'd actually forgotten that my jars of medicine were there.
Tonight I turn to them, suddenly urgent: Where is the St. John's Wort? Like the spare twenty bucks tucked into a book for an emergency, all summer I added to this jar of St. John's Wort with flowers from my garden, wild specimens from my walks on the irrigation ditch, wilder flowers still from my field trips with my herbal class. We stood around a St. John's Bonfire on Solstice and wove crosses from the stalks to hang over our doors for protection, anointed each other with blood red St. John's oil. It was eleven p.m. and you didn't need a jacket; the roses and jasmine were in full bloom, and the fruit was ripening on the trees. Me and my friend Kerry were singing awful 80's songs and laughing til it hurt. Maybe we had even gotten into a bit of the Solstice Meade...
And meanwhile the jar grew full of flowers. Nothing could have been less needed in those white bright days of summer, and so a thin mantle of dust settled on the lid. But tonight, tonight, the contents are essential.
Halloween is a thrill, a dipping of warm toes into an icy stream. But soon enough, the ghosts and goblins that flirt tentatively in the shadows at the edge of November have the rule of the whole place. Winter can be a bummer... or at least for the starving artist in a drafty house.
I find my herb, between the elderflowers and the thyme. It's even pressed yet. My handy father-in-law built me an herb press to use with the hydrolic jack in his shop, but I haven't gotten up the steam to cart all my mason jars over there yet and do the deed. I shake it up vigorously, noticing that the famous blood red color has completely seeped in to the alcohol itself, leaving the flowers pale. I pour myself a good amount right off of the top and mix it with water. There is something familiar in the smell of the elixir, that whiff of sun and warm earth, the comforts once taken for granted.
There is still December, January, February (oh, let's not think about February yet!) and March to go... so thank God/dess we can bottle