Some days, I must remind myself of the gentle strength of the plants right outside my door. The spring I prepared for my Black Belt test, schooled my (not so) Horrible Adolescent Child, balanced a too-tight budget, and managed ridiculous perimenopausal symptoms, I returned to that medicine…finally.
Rose helped give me heart again. I was feeling down, not at all ready for the upcoming test and more worn out from the rest of my life than I wanted to admit, when the rose hips on my rose bush out front caught my eye. I’d ignored them longer than I should have. Really, I should have brought them in to dry last fall. But the afternoon was sunny and warm, and my garden shears were handy enough, so it seemed the time had come to bring them in.
The buds had already begun to open into stunning red leaves. They’ll turn green in a few weeks, but now, as they’re so young, tender, and full of life, they’re a lovely deep hue of red akin to heart blood. I realized I sorely needed to both harvest those old hips and prune before it was too late. As I have only a few rose bushes, the pruning and harvesting took no time at all. Soon, I was back inside with a wee basket of hips and a marginally lighter heart. I found my favorite spring video, “Secrets of the Rose Gardener” with Ellen Minet, an internationally honored rose expert who curates and cares for the roses at the Planting Fields Arboretum in Oyster Bay, New York. Her light, practical attitude about caring for roses is my annual harbinger of spring. I so want to be a good gardener. Even though the many demands of hearth and home preclude me from getting there yet, I watch and listen to her each year. One day, I know my garden will finally trump some of those other responsibilities. For now, Ellen Minet is an inspiration for me in caring for the few roses who’ve managed to survive my crazy space.
With Ellen’s wisdom rattling between my ears once again, I started to feel a lot better. I decided I needed one more piece of Rose Magic to kick the blues and find exactly what I needed to meet the challenges of my life. That last piece was, again, straight out of a Wise Woman’s hands. Locally, there’s a sheer Rose Magician called “PremRose Edibles.” She makes the best—THE BEST— rose petal jam and her rose tea…oh, it’s absolutely lovely. It was to her I turned for that last bit of magic.
I steeped a quart of Rose Tea from PremRose Edibles on my counter overnight. I used cold steeping to keep the essential oils and the lovely scent of the rose petals in the tea. Within a couple of hours, the liquid had started to turn a lovely shade of red. By morning, it was dark, dark red and filled with rose-scented goodness. This rose petal tea is sweet and tart naturally. I don’t add any sugar, although if I serve it to my guys I usually add just a tiny bit to the pitcher.
When I drink it, I’m transported back to my Grandmother’s back room, which always smelled of rose petals. I remember sitting in the hot, Pennsylvania summer afternoons on her back porch and lolling under the huge pines just off her front porch. I can still feel her strong, soft hands and arms hugging me and hear her laugh. Grandma always gave me a sense of strength, like no matter what God threw her way she’d somehow make the best of it and persevere with that quiet, classic Grandmotherlyness. I thought, it’s my turn to persevere, and that I will, just after I’ve sipped another cup of that rose petal tea.
Other Rose Magic ideas:
- Make an old fashioned Rosary (or Mala or string of beads for another purpose)–use the most strongly scented fresh rose petals you can find.
- Plant a rose–if you’re not inclined to careful tending choose a hardy variety like one of the Rugosas.
- Make a dream pillow that includes rose petals. Catmint and hops are good partners for rose.
- Try using Rose hydrosol or Rose water as a light toner for your skin or a freshener for your bedside table.
- Add a few tablespoons of rose hips to your next soup, stew, or even smoothie.
- Send a bouquet of roses to your beloved or your best friend. Choose the colors of your roses to send exactly the message you want to share.
- Steep a handful or two of rose petals in a bottle of light white wine, like a pinot grogio. Steep it in the morning to share with friends or a loved one in the late afternoon or evening.
- Make Rose hip syrup for your coffee.