Thursday, 7 June 2012
Herbal remedies - and memories
Experienced the strange, quiet joy of gardening in a gentle shower of summer rain this afternoon. In many ways I enjoy the changeable weather we've been having - the ever-changing cloudscapes, feeling the fluctuating temperatures on my skin, the constant movement of light and shadow. I find rain quieting and meditative (more so when viewed through a window from a dry room!) Today I planted tarragon, basil and lemon balm and enjoyed their fragrance. One of my great delights at this time of year, after a hot sticky day in the city, is to wander in the garden - perhaps with a glass of wine in hand - brushing the herb plants with my fingers to release their scent and choosing which to use when I prepare supper. And so many of them are used in healing too. I first grew lemon balm (Melissa) after experiencing the uplifting properties of its essential oil, sometimes known as the scent of joy itself. This Beltane season of the year is associated with healing, for it is when the healing herbs flourish in the warmth of the Sun as Midsummer approaches. Growing and picking herbs reminds me of cooking with my mother and experimenting together with their different flavours. My father was the gardener of the family - sadly I can't claim to have inherited his green fingers. But one precious memory came back to me this afternoon, of myself as a small child walking through Northampton market with my father and seeing some wilted marigold plants that someone had dropped on the ground from their shopping. I felt so sad to see them looking vulnerable and neglected, in danger of being trodden on. I wondered of the buyer would miss them. We picked them up and took them home; my father helped me plant them and I tended them so carefully, and was overjoyed when they recovered and eventually flowered! The smell of marigolds always reminds me of that time, and today it feels like a tiny parable of God's love. But now there are other scents to enjoy. We've eaten our supper (with tarragon, fennel and lemon thyme, in case you wondered), the rain has stopped and the ragged clouds are being blown away, the swifts are screaming and the blackbirds are squabbling, the coffee is bubbling on the stove. And they call it Ordinary Time!