I always bake bread in the evenings. I suppose this applies to most baking in our household; scones, crisps, cookies and the rare batch of naan hardly make an appearance in the light of day. I do wish I was a morning baker - there's something that seems so... quintessential about the yeasty aroma of bread wafting through the house alongside first light and bird song. But for now the light is fading everything to gray and my house smells like heaven.
Tonight, while the loaves sat in the oven, I wandered barefoot through the property. It's officially the height of the season wherein I declare to the pups "I adore Summer, it's my favorite season of all," knowing full well I say this four times a year, respective seasons substituted in. The mish-mash of a garden I yearly create, spare pots filled so hopefully in the rainy spring, is turning towards full production. With that comes the the wild overgrown I love far more than any tidy row. I study every green thing at least twice a day - a privilege I know comes with working from home. Right now that privilege extends towards a modest feeding of self: tomatoes have been regularly gracing my eggs for almost two weeks now, the whole kitchen is strung with bundles of drying herbs, and daily I whisper greedy encouragement to the cucumbers.
But tonight, rather than vegetables, I harvested sweetgrass, lavender, rosemary, white sage and cedar. A friend is passing through town tomorrow with brunch on the agenda, while she and her family begin a new great adventure into the unknown far North. I want to send her on her way with a smudge bundle from the Pacific Northwest.
I was taught to create smudge bundles in the very modern version of the old ways; this is no grab and go process. In the last cold days of winter I pre-ordered sweetgrass plugs for post-frost deliver, I began scooping up a number of lavender varieties, purchased one robust rosemary who now takes permanent residency on the front porch, and against all better judgement found myself a white sage, the most sacred of American sages, who truly has no business living in such a damp climate (even the tag came with the disclaimer: "this plant is difficult to keep alive in the PNW"). Every one of these I've planted, tended, fed aged kelp and bonemeal, and given my sweet love. Every one of them has grown and bloomed, wafting scent to every bumble and honey bee in a 10 block radius. When I harvest their leaves and blossoms, I sit with them for a moment and offer my gratitude. For surely, the things that sustain our bodies and minds deserve our heartfelt thanks, even if they can not curtsy and reply in kind. I like to think those thanks and all that love will be released into the immediate atmosphere of my friend's new home every time she lights a bundle and allows it to smolder.
But for now, the timer has rung, the beasts have finished dinner and are laying comatose on the rug, and a well buttered slice is calling my name. Rest easy my friends, and remember to thank your plants.
- U -