Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Patchwork of Summertime

Here are some scraps from the quilt of my summer, from days of heat and then of fog, light evenings even in the forest, the bounty of this dry-land, gone already to its drought-season, with the buckeyes starting to loose their leaves.... These are some highlights, some patchwork-bits of joy, amidst the everyday ups and downs that we all sail. I am trying to make a practice of honoring said everyday joys, and the great peace that comes of making small things by hand—medicine, felt, knitting—instead of getting too caught up in the whirlwind-stress of to-do's and emails and deadlines and rent-checks, which I am not often so good at...! So, a few quilt-squares:

A pile of Gray Fox Epistles, with a cup of tea, ready to be made into beautiful parcels out on the back deck in the firwood, where the pacific wren watches with his gnome-elf face and the woodpeckers cackle and drum.

A tall jar of Bavarian cough syrup, which I learned to make from herbalism teacher Catherine Abby Rich— layers of lung herbs for winter, from comfrey to plaintain to sage to redwood tips to mullein leaves, hyssop, rosemary, bougainivillea, with brown sugar and lemon slices between.

A handsome quail-man singing in the coastal scrub of Point Reyes, showing us his beautiful top-knot.

A precious nest of goldfinch eggs tucked deep into the coyote brush, while on a mission with fellow trackers to find signs of the elusive Point Reyes Mountain Beaver. I got teary at the tender miracles of those eggs, and apologized profusely to the mother goldfinch who I accidentally (like a good blundering human) scared off her nest. I do so dearly hope those beautiful eggs are now healthy and hatched to sweet young goldfinch souls learning the ways of the goldfinch-world.

Huge artichoke-thistle head bigger than my hand, what purple to lose your heart to!

A smooth-wheeled cart amidst the yellow cats-ear flowers...

near a friend's little cottage where my brother recorded his own album out in the Chileno Valley of cow and gold-hill and wind.

Circles of redwood trees, to lay amidst, back to earth, hair full of needles, dizzy in the spires of those trunks.

Another story-case for Epistles, coyote-brush dyed, tied up with velvet ribbon.

And perhaps the most exciting thing of all (to me!), my very first batch of elderberry elixir, from an elder tree down the road, elderflowers up the hill and over the ridge, honey, and brandy, made from the recipe of the magnificent Kiva Rose.

But then of course there are the blackberries, ripe a tad early this year. My love and I went berry-gathering a few days ago, and stayed out in the thickets till evening fell, in that most delicious of blackberry trances, so focused on the black sweet sun-full fruits under our fingers, the thorns, the next bunch almost in reach, that the whole world fell away and we were only this— body, breath, laughter, berry-juice, thorn-scratch, transcendent sweetness on the tongue. Really, what could be better? Really, what does a body crave more of a summer eve than to stand in the berries, hands out, fingers a whirlwind of picking, mind at ease?


  1. ah, such sweetness of summer you describe!! blessings of lughnasadh to you :)

  2. Lovely summer quilt squares, Sylvia. The berry-picking sounds so much like a traditional folk song that I imagine you skipping along under the sun, singing a berry-picking tune (surely there are some)...I'll wish to taste a delicious and sweet blackberry someday, because the ones at the store have very little flavor at all.

  3. I just stumbled upon your blog on my search for a cough remedy thats been driving me crazy for over a month. I was curious with the Bavarian cough syrup after adding all the herbs that you mentioned do I strain out the herbs? Also do I add the herbs into cold or hot water?

    Beautiful blog. :)

    1. So sorry for the great delay, Eve! Welcome to the Indigo Vat & thank you for visiting! As to the cough syrup— you let it sit for about three months. Then you pour all of it into a pot on the stovetop, heat up, stir about a bit, and THEN strain. However I am a bit of a novice myself! But the idea is that the sugar is the vehicle, so you don't add water or anything. And hopefully after those three months the herbal actions have really melded in. But not a quick fix for a cough right at the moment. Hope it's feeling better!

  4. I just discovered your beautiful blog. I cannot wait to jump into it. Might you have a recipe for the Barvarian cough syrup. Thank you.