The fair pastures are growing and growing, still silver-crested with daisy fleabane, white under the silver-lined clouds, heavy with thunder, that wander over the sky.
The air is so humid it hangs like a mist around lights, and i feel like I’m gulping water when i breathe. The ubiquitous sand sticks to everything – feet, floors, clothes, always underfoot.
For days and days we have been rained on by all kinds of rain – the gentle steady pattering; the slow, drip-dripping; the quiet rain that lasts all day; the thunderous rain when everything trembles; the baptismal showers that pour down in bucketfuls out of the sky; and the damp haze that lingers on when the real rain has stopped and swirls and swims before your eyes.
I’ve been trying to catch up on rest on the wet, grey afternoons after damp mornings soaked to the skin doing the chores. Perhaps it is the quiet light, but these days have been filled with melancholy for me, as i lay, feeling swallowed by the loud rain on the roof.
I’ve been thinking back over my life and all those hard, golden days full of babies and young children. The days of them climbing trees, and their fat little cheeks, the sweet way their lips would phantom-nurse as babies when they fell asleep, reading favorite books in bed in the hot summer afternoons, my son digging in his pit, making stick swords and bows and arrows, and imagining building a castle there.
Alongside i thought of all my animal companions, no longer here and all my friends and people i knew and remember, wondering what befell them.
I wonder at how many memories i have to go through – my childhood, and the magic days of exploring the treasures hidden away at my grandmother’s house – the mysterious collections of shells and eggs, the strange things to be found in the attic – hideous furniture, and moldy books and the creepy stuffed animals of a different age.
Then the hard years of middle school and moving, my travels, those hopeful years of being a young mama with young children – it’s strange how all the tiredness has faded from memory and all that lasts is the sweetness.
Going through these memories, I feel like an age has ended in the world, and we are stepping into a dark and unknown threshold of a new and unhappy world. I feel like it’s necessary, somehow, to carry these bright memories, like a little lantern flame, with me.
This recipe, like my mindful of memories, is a way to carry the beautiful moments of spring along into the year.
When I harvested the flowers, it was still beautiful spring. The days were dry and golden, and we were enjoying the quiet days of the quarantine.
One morning when i went outside and drank in the cool, sweet air, i smelled a heavenly smell, like a scent blown in from the Hesperides,and noticed little golden flowers raining down all over the deck.
The wild grapes were blooming, their flowers hanging down in gilded bundles. This was my attempt to capture that beautiful smell and those lovely days in a glass. My regret is that the moment to make this soda has passed for this year.
GRAPE FLOWER SODA
Big bunches of fresh-picked wild grape flowers, enough to loosely fill a gallon jar
1 cup raw honey, preferably locally sourced if not home grown
Cool, unchlorinated water to fill the jar
1. Add all ingredients to a gallon glass jar, and set aside at room temperature.
2. The honey will slowly dissolve and the soda will begin to ferment, creating bubbles.
3. After a couple of weeks, taste the soda. It should be bubbly, tangy, sweet and fragrant. It’s time to strain the soda and discard the grape flowers. The soda will keep well in the fridge, and is very uplifting on rainy days.