Jul 22, 2012

I'll Drink to Calendula!

I can feel a slight shift today.  I'm not sure if it's the sun coming up later or the rare cooler day we are having, but the season is stretching out into those lanky summer days that whisper of harvests and winds and wood-smoke to come.  We are still in the thick of it, here in the Valley.  There will not be much respite from the heat for long.  But on days like this, it is a pleasure to linger in the garden or sit in the yard with the plants waving lazily in the breeze.

The camera on my phone seems to take only one fair shot to every twenty that I snap of the garden, so the pics are far and few between this week.  In the above pic, my calendula is happily blooming in its pot (not surprising for a flower commonly called "pot marigold.") 

If you don't have some calendula in your garden or in a pot on your patio, you must run out and get a plant immediately.  They are my go-to flowers for healing and a staple in my salves.  Simply pop the pretty flowers off as they bloom and infuse them in a good oil (grapeseed, sweet almond or even a high quality olive oil) and use the oil as is or in a salve on cuts, scrapes, bumps and burns.  If you have stitches or an open or weeping wound, pass on the oil and make a strong calendula tea.  Spritz or dab on the wound and let dry.  Calendula assists by bringing blood flow to the area around the wound and helping to grow new tissue.

There are a few fun superstitions surrounding calendula too.  From the article "Calendula: Myths and Superstitions" by Cheryl Dennett:

There are claims that calendula flowers can ward off witchcraft. And, if you dream of the lovely, gold flowers, this means there is a large sum of money on it's way to you, sometime in the future.

In Wales, it was once believed that if calendula flowers were not open by 7 in the morning, there was rain on the way. Another superstition held in this country is that anyone who picks a calendula, or even looks at one, runs the risk of developing a weakness for strong drink. This has led to the plants being known as drunkards in Wales.

Hmm...I wonder if there is any correlation between my picking calendula and the frequency of daiquiris imbibed this summer.


Jul 17, 2012

Sailing Through Summer

Summer drifts by in a haze of garden work and hot afternoons hiding in my office or in the shade of the cedars.  My laptop is currently waiting for a new cord (the sparking was getting a bit much, even for a procrastinator like me,) so I'm borrowing time here on another's computer to post a quick update.

I feel like I've made wonderful progress in my goal to dry, tincture, infuse, jam and can my way through the gardens and hills this year.  Fortunately I have the extra hands of family and friends who are also happy to gift and trade their bounty.  For all the projects completed though, there are many more to get to.  I want to tincture some of the wild yarrow for a first-aid spray.  The culinary herbs should be dried (and some processed and frozen.)  And with the apricots coming in to season, I have my favourite jam to make.

My long hair is permanently tied up on my head, the ends bleaching out to blonde in the sun.  My arms and legs are browning, even through the SPF 50 I wear every day and the rest of me is still pale, so I'm sporting a rather sexy farmer's tan at the moment.  I'm faring rather well this summer,  in spite of July being my least comfortable month.  I find that time in the garden or the hills, heals a host of ills.

Here is a taste of what summer has been like for me:

~ Endless rhubarb harvests end up in these yummy muffins.

~ Perusing the already-being-stocked school supplies aisles for my fave eco-friendly "Sasquatch" notebooks.

~ Buying local honey to sweeten my coffee, to use in creating syrups and for making coarse incense.

~ Taking my herbal goodies to a local artisan market every other week.

~  Reading (and re-reading) a stack of herbal books, Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle, and The Dome by Stephen King (which will take me forever because the book weighs 20lbs and I can't drag it around with me.)

~ Attempting to spend some time in the water.  I'm notorious for letting an entire summer go by without getting into a lake or pool - and I'm surrounded by them!

There is plently of fun to come as well.  I have a few excursions planned while the summer lasts and there are a few festivals on the horizon.  I hope your summer is sailing smoothly along.  May you find much fruitfulness in the season - the playing in it and the resting!

Jul 12, 2012

Who We Truly Are

In the past few days, two rather prominent bloggers have released blog posts discussing who they are on their path and in their life. 

Sarah Lawless - The Witch of Forest Grove - discussed her realization that despite what others thought of her practice, and what she wanted out of it for a time, she is not what she thought she was. 

"I’ve been having a lot of revelations lately about my path. Some I’ve known for a while, but only in my head and not in my heart. One big one I’ve had to come to terms with is that I am not a healer and nor do I want to be. It was hard to accept that and let go."

*read the full post here.

Another revelation today was Teo Bishop who shared with the community via his blog A Bishop In The Grove, that he was not only our Teo, but singer-songwriter Matt Morris

"At some point, we must all come out. We must all be honest about how we’ve compartmentalized to excess, how we’ve created new masks — either out of fear or in an attempt to approximate privacy in a increasingly non-private society. We must recognize when it is time to integrate all of our disparate parts."

"But my coming out is not simply an act of confession about another online identity. I’m choosing transparency at this time because I believe doing so may be the only way I can move forward in both my music and my writing. I was never two people — I was always, only one."

*read full post here.

Having people in our community (magical/Pagan/witchcraft/insert-your-preferred-name-here) "come out" with their truths - their insights into their own path and share their journey with us is such an important offering.  It allows those of us who struggle with lables, with identities or with trying to fit into one box, to see that there are others who move and shape their lives in order to serve their true selves and spirits.

I'm grateful for people like Sarah and Teo and for their honesty and their willingness to be open in a world that at times can grab and twist and tear at openings.  There are bound to be those that throw out a barb or a dig, but those with real self-knowledge and the inclination to share that with their community are better able to rise above the ankle biters of society, and in doing so offer the rest of us a real gift.

I've found these posts to be an encouragement and a stepping stone to explore for myself, who the person is I show to others and how my journey might unfold if I were to simply release what I think I am (or what I wanted to be) and fully become who I truly am.

Jul 5, 2012

Summer In Full Swing

I hope everyone had a wonderful Canada Day and 4th of July this week!  Summer has finally hit us here in the valley.  Although, I have given up having any sense of what the weather will be like from day to day and bring a second set of clothes with me to work in case I arrive under hot sun, and leave under rain.  A little girl-guide preparedness never hurts.

The fruit harvest has begun in this land of orchards.  Our first crop, cherries, took a hit this year with all the rain.  Much splitting has occurred and some folks were forced to get their fruit down a bit early.  Regardless of how they look - they taste amazing!  Cherry jam is on the to-do list this week and I think I'll freeze a few for smoothies too.

The farmers market has had rain every Saturday for the past 6 weeks.  This weekend may be the first to see sunshine since the first two weeks it was open in May.  I've not even had the heart to do a farmers market post.  With any luck, this Saturday I'll have plenty of pics to share.

Also in season now are the Saskatoon berries.  These make a lovely jam too.  There are many bushes along the river where I walk, so I will have to start bringing a bucket to pick a few.

Much of my time has been spent in the garden trying to keep up with the massive growth due to the rains and occasional hot sun.  I'm very fortunate in that my office work can be done on my own schedule, so mornings are reserved for outside work and the hot afternoons now will be spent in the air conditioned office.  When I do have a chance to escape the valley floor though, I take it!  I went back up into the hills a few days ago to pick some self-heal and a bit more yarrow.  These are invaluable in salves for healing all manner of bumps and cuts.

I was also fortunate to spend an afternoon in my friend's garden, which puts mine to shame.  Full of ponds, hidden paths, arbours, bird houses, fountains and faeries, this place is alive with birds and wildlife.  Also, mosquitoes.  Ouch!

The last two days I've been processing some lemon balm that I harvested from a friend's garden.  I've hung over a dozen bunches to dry and threw the remainder in the sun-tea jar and set it out to infuse in the heat.  What a gorgeous, happy drink this makes.  A bit of sugar and it's perfect.

Happy July - and happy summer harvesting!