I do love the lolling pace of summer ... the hours and days slip by me and I loose track of time. Today is a holiday here, but another day for me to fill with work and play. Cowgirl and I each have our "studies" to review and then join together for some Chinese character practice which I find so fascinating. The character for big (da) 大 looks like a person with their arms extended wide open. It actually is the character for person (ren) 人 with a line through the center. Put a line on top 天 and you have sky (tian). Cool, isn't it?
One of my new summer routines is to put out a jar of herbal sun tea each morning allowing the light and the heat of the day to steep it. The next day I strain it and enjoy it "straight" or with a little lemonade mixed in. I don't follow any recipe; rather I use this practice as a means of cultivating intuition. I pull out my basket of dried herbs and pick whatever calls to me. Lately, I have been snipping some fresh mint from my herb pots, tossing in a spoonful of rose hips and a sprinkling of red leaf raspberry. Another favorite combination is mint with a pinch of licorice root for some natural sweetness. I prefer the mints right now for their cooling properties. I also like to add something for calming like catmint or lemon balm. (A hand full of fresh lemon balm steeped in a cup of hot water with some honey is my new favorite bedtime tea!)
I learned this method of making teas (or herbal infusions) from a generous and wise herb mama, Latisha of HerbMother. Her website is a treasure trove of information on working with the plant people with lots of fun activities for kids. She is my go-to when I have any questions regarding herbs and their properties and the various ways to work (or play!) with them. (She offers many free tutorials here and a basic recipe for summer brews is here.) What I love is her encouragement that we all hold this wisdom and that the work is really about cultivating a relationship with the plants. Taking time to select my herbs, mixing them, setting them out for the entire day to brew is an act of engagement and commitment on both our parts. Rather than mindless grabbing a box off of the shelf, this practice brings me into relationship with myself, my inner guidance and the plants around me.
I follow a similar tactic when visiting the farmer's market. Rather than having an agenda (recipes/list in hand) I go and seek what calls to me. This is a way of strengthening my ability to hear my inner guidance (when we listen to it and respond, we strength it; when we hear, but disregard, we weaken that connection) and respond to the wisdom of my body and what the yogis call Prana or the life force.
Interestingly, the Chinese character for tea (ca - long a sound) 茶 is said to represent grass, wooden branches and a person between the two, signifying how tea brings us into balance with nature.
Happy magic making! I would love to know your favorite summer drink recipes.