This post is part of the UK Herbarium July blog party hosted this month by Debs Cook at Herbaholics Herbarium
It would be easy to write about the issues leading to a summer of despair. It is more difficult and therefore more rewarding to discover small moments of joy which shine their rays upon a dark and soggy world.
For me, these fleeting glimmers concern colours and scents. Not the ubiquitous green of mature summer leaves hanging down from thick canopies or the lighter green of sodden grass which squelches underfoot, but the fresh green of teasel, shooting up from spring rosettes to spear the air with their pointed arrows.
On a rare dry evening I hunted dog rose petals. The wind was not content to let me walk along the lane regardless of his strength, tossing my new cardigan and paper bags into the deepest, mud-filled puddle. Briars offered no shelter as I plucked their pale pink petals, so when my bag was full I retreated across a field of stunted lucerne, to fill my basket with white treasure. With this first harvest of elderflower, I suddenly remembered how much its scent delighted me, sucking its perfume into memory for another year.
There have been other white jewels offering themselves to me. Stunning yarrow flowers, coloured by feeding insects whose scent is only released when you touch the leaves. The pink-tipped valerian, whose perfume strokes me as I sit nearby. It calls me to remember other times, other scents which lift the darkness.
The rain has damaged so many of my roses and St John’s wort, yet yellow stars continue to shine despite the moisture. I watch honey and several varieties of bumble bee brush their legs against anthers, adding to the yellow pillows carried there. The brilliance of yellow against mugwort’s green delights me with gold emerging from hidden depths.
There is something special about gathering herbs whilst surrounded by bees. They visit each tiny flower with industrious diligence, no matter what else happens around them. The catnip continues to blossom despite weeks of downpours and every time I visit, their blue haze is filled with buzzing.
Now is the time to play with flowers; to drink deep of red clover blossom or purple self-heal. Their mineral-rich tea slides smoothly over my tongue bringing calm and appreciation. Clutching my basket, each flower calls to me, not for their own sake but to bring happiness together. Pinks, yellows, purple and electric blue pierce my heartstrings, searing colours on my brain, assuring me their honey-drawn essence will continue to soothe and uplift a struggling soul into happier times.