Oh Woad Where for Art Thou?

Woad was one of those Flowers I pursued like a love sick thirteen year old.

I saw its name somewhere. US magazine? TMZ? My high school year book? Gerard’s Herball?

The name rang some bell within me, and I was off to the races. I pursued the plant through seed catalogs and my trusty “Field Guide to Wildflowers”. I searched for pictures online. I was giddy when I landed a seed packet.

Why? Why? I had no idea. I just wanted it. Badly.

It took two years for my baby Woad plants to mature and blossom but unlike most of my teen crushes, Woad was better than I imagined it would be.

Yes, it was tall and gangly but those FLOWERS! When I went to take Woad’s photo my hands shook, but I convinced myself the photos looked dreamy and special. As special as Woad.

I could not understand it. Why wasn’t everyone growing Woad?

Well apparently everyone HAD grown Woad six hundred no make that six thousand years ago and they were over it.

But not me. I was in the first flushes of a crush worthy of my love object. Going by my Woad plants as I worked in the gardens was a thrill. Like seeing the object of my affection across a crowded cafeteria and knowing someday I might actually speak in to him Biology class if I dropped a pencil in front of him and he noticed or we got assigned to dissect a frog together.

I even enjoyed saying Woad’s name. Woad. Such a strange name but so interesting. Woad. We were MTB BFF.

As you can imagine, here in the office, stuffed as it is with eight zillion bottles of Flower Essences, there are many opportunities to try out the new Flower Essences. Once Woad was made into a Flower Essence on a glorious sunny day, I was all over it.

As I put Flower Essences in my quart canning jar each day, many Flower friends come and go as necessary. But Woad was something I reached for every day. I had no idea why. We weren’t talking yet so I had no notion how Woad was helping me, but I knew Woad was doing something. Something special.

Somehow, when I did talk to Woad to get a definition, I managed to keep my description sort of professorial and not too gushy. I loved that it’s brilliant yellow sunshine Flowers indicated a strength to chase away the blues. This was especially interesting to me after having read five hundred pages about the Woad industry in medieval Europe where Woad was used to make the one and only blue dye. I loved the drama of a yellow Flower that became a blue dye that also worked as a Flower Essence to literally chase away the blues. How I love when a Flower Essence’s purpose is so deeply resonant with its place in the world.

Only Woad had been dumped by the world. In like 1600. This hurt me on Woad’s behalf. How could those medieval folk have abandoned Woad’s blue dye for Indigo’s blue dye? It was like dumping the original crush for the new hunk in town. How could they let this Flower go? I didn’t plan on it.

But Woad spoke to this too. It said one of it’s particular gifts was to help us find purpose when our previous purpose has been lost to us.

As I adjust to my empty nest filled with buzzing iPhones, I too am accomodating a shift in purpose. I am so happy that I get to keep working with the Flowers in the gardens and the Flower Essences in the office. This part of my calling gives me a bit of an eternal summer and yahoo for that. But I was definitely looking for other purposes for myself. Especially for the quiet evenings. Maybe it was Woad or maybe it was the combination of Woad and Laura’s Oatmeal cookies that started the wonderful project of this Green Hope Farm cookbook. Whatever the reason, it’s been so fun to have this new purpose. Where earlier I was cooking for hoards of people, now I was writing about cooking for hoards of people in my empty kitchen.

Yesterday as Alli and I worked our way through the final edits from the printing press for a press roll beginning TODAY, we snacked on Pumpkin Cake, and I sipped my Woad water. As we were literally handing off the cookbook for good, I needed a new purpose and Woad was on the job. Suddenly we decided to shoot a picture of the cake were eating and post it on Facebook because after all, Pumpkin Cake was a recipe in the cookbook.

Oh Woad, was it you that called me to a new pursuit during the wintry month of November when garden chores are scarce? Was it you that whispered, “Food Stylist” in my ear. And you, Woad, be gentle with me. I am probably going to be terrible at this, just like I was terrible at getting the attention of that youth in high school. Yes, I DID marry him, but my goodness, it took five years to get a date. How many dropped pencils was that. A lot.