This last spring I planned for some fairly ambitious container gardening, which unfortunately came to naught. The mustard thrived, and the roses survived just fine, but most of the seedlings just stopped growing and the poor tomatoes looked like they were being tortured. It turned out the compost I’d purchased had been contaminated with some nasty persistent herbicides. It was heartbreaking, but still, I’m lucky to have a source for stunningly vibrant dried herbs (Zack Woods Herb Farm, here in Vermont), and so I was able to order lemon balm, and tulsi, and angelica among other good things. They’re all tucked into mason jars in alphabetical order on my shelf, ready to get me and others through the winter and remind us of greener times when things were growing.
I was also lucky enough to complete Rosemary Gladstar‘s Advanced Herbal Studies program this year. We began in May, and that first Friday as I came over the hill into Orange, VT, it was like driving right into a cloud. We experienced all four seasons through the program – even, during the last weekend in October, a bit of winter with snow that stayed on the ground and temperatures solidly below freezing one night. (Since I was camping, I was distinctly aware of those temperatures!) The last Sunday, as we each stood up to receive our certificates and congratulations from our teachers, another cloud enveloped Sage Mountain, recalling our first day there. Of course, then the mountain and roadsides and our gardens were swelling with new growth, whereas now each frost seems to trim back what greenery is left. It’s time to tuck in for the winter, to rest more, to hunker down and reflect on the year. After six weekends (one each month) packed full of invaluable herbal information and inspiration, I felt (and feel) that I have a lot to reflect on, so it wasn’t so sad to leave, that afternoon, as I’d expected it would be.
As much as I’ll miss the sunshine and long afternoons stretched out in the summer heat (I could have used a few more of those, really…), I’m content to be moving into darker days of rest and reflection. One song has it that “summer’s a lover who always leaves before it’s the right time to go,” but this year, after something of a breathless summer, I’m ready for the exhalation that winter brings.
This post is inspired by the prompt “What have you harvested this year? How are you saving your harvest so that it lasts through the winter? What other preparations are you making before the snow falls?” over at paganprompts.blogspot.com .