A local potter friend answers the frequent question, “How long does it take you to make a pot?” in this way: He says, “5 minutes and a lifetime.” Skills developed over decades mean he can throw a pot very fast, but to say it takes just 5 minutes is misleading.
This is true of so many things all of us do in life. Here at the farm one example is making Flower Essences.
The process begins now on winter days when we are gripped by chill winds and blowing snow. This is when I take inventory of all our Mother Flower Essences. It’s an inventory of nearly a thousand different Flower Essences. I go through them all to make a list of what needs to be made in the upcoming growing season.
Low inventory of a Flower Essence from an annual plant like Zinnia means I need to get seeds to grow the Flowers and plan where to plant them in the gardens. If it’s a perennial or wildflower, I need to concentrate on where I have seen the Flower in bloom and when it blooms.
I divide my list into Flowers that bloom in early spring, those in late spring, early summer, late summer and fall. I have learned the hard way that Flowers come and go much faster than it seems.
Take for example Dandelion. It appears this friend is with us for weeks and weeks and weeks. But Dandelion actually has a short season (albeit a splashy one). We go through a lot of Dandelion Flower Essence as it is an ingredient in many of our Flower Essence combination mixes. It is an absolutely essential mainstay in our collection. I have sometimes waited too long to make our year’s Dandelion Flower Essence. I then have had to walk through all our fields (30 acres of them) to find enough Flowers. That it could be hard to find Dandelion Flowers sounds improbable, But check it out this year. They go by all at once, and then there is nary a blossom. So I make this Flower Essence as soon as the Dandelions begin to fill the landscape in early May. Gaps in inventory come from me thinking, “Oh the Trilliums are just out so I have time.” when actually they’ll be gone next week.
Needless to say, I read through my chronologically organized master list frequently during the growing season. I keep the list next to the door from the office into the house so I pass it many times each day. Anything to keep me focused. And yes with a thousand Flower Essences to keep track of, I still sometimes slip up. The memories of searching high and low for a Flower just a little bit too late sear into my memory and keep me as alert as possible.
Not every day is right for making Flower Essences. The Angels and Elementals know best so I check with them. Sometimes they pick very unlikely days for Essence making. Only as the day unfolds do I feel the quality of the light and grasp possible reasons why they picked the day. One classic kind of day for making Essences is what we call a North Storm. This is a high barometric pressure day of very clear bright sunlight, brilliant blue skies and a certain crispness to the air. However, my co-creators often surprises me with when we make Flower Essences.
Once I have the green light to make Essences, I travel to fields, woodlands and gardens with glass bowls filled with water. I work hard to give the creation of each Flower Essence the loving focus it deserves. This means a serious chat with each Flower. I ask for permission to make an Essence from its petals. I also ask the Flowers to pick the best blossoms for me to use to make the Essence. I include the Flowers, the Angels and the Elementals in my request that they make the blossoms in the water into a Flower Essence. There is no Essence without these participants, and it fills me with gratitude that they are there ready to work with us humans.
When I return later in the day to retrieve the Flower Essence, I always thank all involved including the Elementals of the individual Flower blossoms. They held the concept of the Flowers so beautifully in manifestation that a Flower Essence could be made from their blossoms.
When I was six and making Goldenrod Flower Essence in the field behind my house, my Flower friends kicked in their gifts without my conscious request, but now my heartfelt acknowledgement of their role seems the very least I can do.
In all these conversations, its hard to miss that Flowers not only look very different but they have different personalities. Some Flowers are very reserved, and I must sit at their side and wait patiently for them to speak. Some love to visit. Some are so enthusiastic that they wake me up at dawn to get started on the project. Flowers have always felt like dear old friends to me. Even when I met a Flower for the first time, it feels like a kindred spirit. Loving all kinds of different Flowers helps me be more accepting of the bouquet of the human race. Some of us are meant to be Lilies and some of us are Peonies and some of us are Thistles. It’s all good.
For some reason when I think of my chats with Flowers, I often recall the unusual moments when a Flower has called out to get my immediate attention- For example, so many times when in the back of a jittney taxi in St John with no volition to stop the vehicle, I will hear a wildflower on the side of the road yelling to me. Later I have hiked back to find these loud new friends who called out. No regrets. Among other Flower friends, this is how I met Christmas Bush and Wild Physic Nut, two dynamos in our collection.
I also seem to have something I would call Flower vision. I can space out and miss some event happening right in front of me ( just ask my children) but even in a fast moving car, I pick out the briefest flash of color or form of a Flower and know I need to stop everything and have a visit (just ask my children). Once my Flower vision meant that I had to climb onto the roof of a Bermuda bus stop to befriend Screw Pine. Yes, I was seven months pregnant so yes, people in passing cars probably still remember the moment just about as well as I do (BTW that baby is 27 and he’s fine. Maybe I fired up his gift for risk taking with moments like this, maybe I simply gave him fodder for therapy).
But I digress.
It may take me 5 minutes to get a bowl in place and a Flower Essence underway but it’s been a happy lifetime learning how to work with Nature to make the Flower Essence. The “work” brings community, purpose and adventure in equal measure. The adventure part adds so much laughter, especially after the fact. I recall scratchy bushwhacking through brambles and buckthorn to get to Flowers talking loudly. I remember the time I stood on a car during a hurricane to reach a palm blossom. This was probably the same trip when I was at a fancy Bermuda lunch and asked the hostess if I could borrow a ladder to harvest some Queen Palm blossoms in her garden that were calling to me. Fortunately she had a good sense of humor and a long ladder. I recall the many time I’ve worn the wrong clothes but must dive into the fray anyways. Twigs in my hair and tears in my sweaters are par for the course. Sometimes even the right equipment is no match for the job. Many times my mud boots have sunk below their rims to fill with swamp water or mud. There are also times I’ve had to backtrack over a hill or mountain because a Flower has called me back (just ask my children). There have been so many moments when I’ve just had to slip a kayak in the water to go see a Flower or led a motley crew to some obscure location for a Flower that I am in desperate need of (just ask my children). I have loved every minute of it. I hope the children did too. And now that they are adults and scattered to the winds, I have the great good fortune to have new young friends to take on Flower adventures.
Here is one of them in the Morning Glory fort having a bit of an adventure. I can’t wait for this summer. He has a taste for the unknown and I am sure a Flower will call us there.