Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Herbal ally: living life backwards

Almost three months ago now, on January 7th, Kristine Brown posted the first of her herbal ally challenges - to decorate the cover of the notebook being used to record events over the year.

I have a confession to make here. When someone tells me to do something, I will think of one hundred and one reasons why the instruction/suggestion does not apply to me, even if I have agreed to take part in a course of action. There was no need. Everything I planned to do would be done on the computer. I already keep a herbal journey for all my activities – why waste time and paper writing in another one. I don’t do arty things!

So, I watched other people’s blogs as they produced beautiful covers for their notebooks – glorious colours, intricate drawings, stunning collaged photos. I knew I couldn’t do that so I carried quietly on doing the things I was prepared to do.

This is a review of all my ally activities so far:-
- I have observed and photographed violets plants in five different locations
- I have made several dried violet leaf teas but not consistently nor with any pleasure
- I have eaten two harvests of leaves and flowers in spring salads with great enjoyment.
- I have put up two jars of violet vinegar and one of violet tincture and made a violet syrup.
- From the research I carried out I have written three articles and delivered a short talk to the Mercian Herb Group which has inspired one of the group to look for and find her own violets.
- I have begun the violet meditations but will be surprised if I can do them regularly over a two week period.

I shan’t be growing any sweet violets from seed or cuttings, but I may plant a packet of heartsease (viola tricola) later in the year.

I have been quite active with my herbal ally, but not in the order of the set tasks. It doesn’t really matter because the whole process is about developing and maintaining a relationship with your ally and learning more about them.

Yesterday, after making sketches in my general notebook, I realised that a specific notebook for my ally would be a useful thing to have. I love notebooks. I collect them. They sit in a pile in the cupboard under the stairs quietly waiting for me to fill up my current notebooks. They wait years!

The one I chose came from The Works three or four years ago and has a cloth cover. I knew I couldn’t draw or make a paper collage on the fabric, so I thought about embroidering some other material. A piece of old sheet from the airing cupboard was quickly found and my initial sketch of a violet from the garden was copied onto the material.

This was then inserted into my smaller embroidery circle frame and I spent the evening with a needle and silks. I also used up the last scrap of pink ink in the printer printing off all my recent pictures and a title to make a collage for the first page.

This morning Chris was going out to get a new tax disc for the car and came back with some super pritt glue for the material and some basic glue for the pictures. He’s incredibly good at details, so I let him iron and glue on the embroidery and I did the collage. We make a good team.

So here is the first ally challenge completed. It makes me smile and I’m looking forward to filling up the pages of my newly designated journal.


Miss Robyn said...

I have a journal each year & you have inspired me to cover and decorate it!!
[would you mind letting me know where the herbal ally challenge is? would love to follow along. ta]

karisma said...

My biggest problem with the journal is remembering to write in it. I was at first holding back as I felt my pages were not creative enough. I wanted to do it but was just too scared. I wanted it to look nice as I wanted to keep it as a reference book. I am now getting the hang of it and I am hoping to start a new one for edible "native" plants. I am becoming a little obsessed with finding them when I am out and about.

Your journal looks lovely, especially the title page with all your gorgeous drawings. xoxox

Sarah Head said...

Thanks, Karisma!

Miss*R, is you do a search for herbal ally, you'll find a post I wrote explaining it. There are also lots of links to Kristine Brown's blog, Dancing in a field of tansy. On her right hand bar she lists all her subjects. If you click on herbal ally, it will take you to all her posts on this subject. Have fun!