Jun 20, 2013

Grateful Solstice

Mint about to become a mojito. 

The early summer heat has given way to rains and cooler weather.  Today was nothing but on and off torrents of water.  It's leaving the gardens, grass and wilds greener than normal for this time of year.  But then "normal" isn't really something you can gauge anymore.  I live in an area that is considered semi-desert, but it has not lived up to its name for quite some time.

My plans for the solstice tonight included a midnight mugwort harvest in the garden as well as a simple ritual by candlelight in the darkness of the yard, but the soggy weather has thwarted those appointments.  I made a nice dinner for my parents last night with some lovely solar-themed food and mojitos with mint from the garden - so that little delight will have to count as my Litha celebration.

The rains do bring a respite from the flurry of activity of the past two weeks.  Trying to keep up with the herbs that need harvesting and either drying, infusing or tincturing and the veggie gardens that need weeding and thinning and staking, has been an adventure.  If it were my only project, I'd revel in the gardens up to my neck in dirt.  But there are nieces to taxi around to jobs and final exams, a day-job that is knee-deep in our busy season, and a kitty that has decided to start over-grooming herself due to...stress...a bug bite from the garden...a run-in with one of the other cats...I'm not sure - and I'm a worrier when it comes to sick kitties.  (I see more mojitos in my future.)

For the moment, I am watching the sky darken early under the cloud cover and listing the things I'm grateful for.  Reminding myself of the amazingness among the insanity is key to a restful sleep and the will to get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

For now, I will think of:

~ the wild, rapid-fire laugh of my niece.

~ the scores of sugar-snap peas ripening daily on the vine.

~ having a day job that allows me to make up whatever hours I like as long as the work gets done.

~ chai tea in my favourite mug.

~ the smell of rain in the morning.

~ the crazy-beautiful, Tim Burton-esque mini foxglove that bloomed for the first time.

I hope you have a delightful Summer Solstice and find more than enough to be grateful for!

Jun 6, 2013

The Longest Days, The Loveliest Nights

"Mine is the month of roses; yes, and mine
The month of marriages!  All pleasant sights
And scents, the fragrance of the blossoming vine,
The foliage of the valley and the heights.
Mine are the longest days, the loveliest nights;
The mower's scythe makes music to my ear;
I am the mother of all dear delights;
I am the fairest daughter of the year."

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How strange that where there were blossoms a moment ago, there are now cherries.  Where there was spinach just reaching for the sun, there is now an empty row after the grand harvest.

The days blaze by and the rains have left good, rich growth, and now the sky clears and the sun heats up The Valley.  Each morning starts with a walk through the garden beds, weeding here and there, picking this and that.  Making mental notes: dry the peppermint for tea before it gets too leggy in the heat...tincture the skullcap...the mugwort is looking good - she'll be ready to harvest soon... 

There is a sage-pick coming up, yarrow to collect for my healing salve, and a faerie class to organize.  Midsummer is coming fast and I've got to plan a bit of a fete for the fae as well - they do take very good care of my gardens, after all!

Here are a few of my favourite early summer things:

~  The rhubarb is ready for a first harvest.  Mom's rhubarb muffins are drool-worthy - there are some of these in my future!

~  When I can sneak away for an afternoon nap, I've been hitting the shade in the hammock.  Fresh air and a quick, sweet sleep makes for a happy gardener.

~  I've been messing about with salt scrubs for weary feet.  This one is my new go-to scrub when I get home and kick off the flip flops:

*I eyeball this recipe, but these measurements should work - adjust as you like*

1/2 cup sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons of sweet almond oil
3 drops essential oil of peppermint (or more if you like a stronger scent)
3 drops essential oil of lavender

Scrub feet, especially heels, and rinse.  Pat dry - your feet will be SO soft!

~  Books, books, books...  Haven't you heard that a book and a glass of sun-tea are the best cure for the heat?  Mix up a good selection of your fave authors, some interesting or inspiring non-fiction, and a smutty book for good measure.  (You know the summer is the best time to read the naughty books!)

Here's a peek at some of the books in my summer stack (and coming soon to the stack.)

The Conjure Workbook - Star Casas

Joyland - Stephen King

The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North - Beverly Gray

Make Magic of Your Life - T. Thorn Coyle

Fun, magical and super-fast reads:

The Psychic Eye Series by Victoria Laurie

The Bewitching Mysteries by Madelyn Alt

I can't even recommend a good smutty book. Are there good ones?  (Please don't say 50 Shades.) I usually just hit the bestseller rack and flip through a few and grab the one that makes me blush in the aisle of the store.  The last time I did that though, I ended up yelling: Can you even DO that?  I'm sure that's not legal ANYWHERE!  My friend moved to another aisle quickly.  I bought the book.

Whatever trouble or bliss you get into this month, I hope June blossoms into something quite lovely for you!