I wake early every day except Sunday. That is my day of rest, or as much as my body allows considering its internal alarm supercedes what my mind actually wants, which is to linger in bed beyond 5:30am.
In truth, I love those mornings when I rise just around dawn, at least on the sun’s summer schedule. Daylight is already beginning to filter into the house. Quite a different experience from winter, when the sky is still soaked in nighttime.
Lately my routine has been to go outside and pick fresh herbs for tea, a combination of mostly mint, with supporting help from lemon verbena and lemon balm. Sometimes a few chamomile flowers make their way in, too.
These morning trips to the garden invariably end the same way, with me in pajamas, the cuffs tucked into thick black, rubber rain boots, precariously balanced on a step stool, reaching far as my arms’ length, perched on tippy toes, will take me, to grab at ripe mulberries dangling from the tree behind the garage.
It begins with spying a few ripe raspberries. I say to myself, just the raspberries, Jennie. The rest can wait until later. Then the blueberry bush calls out to me. I run inside to get the kitchen shears so I can snip whatever squash blossoms I see.
This morning was a little different, though. In addition to the ripe raspberries, I pinched off the dried ones. It happens, some berries never get that big, and dry off before I can get to them when the sun is particularly fierce a few days in a row, as the weather was last week. These sun-dried raspberries will go into homemade tea blends.
I stopped an extra moment, and thought about how there is still beauty and function left in these shriveled up bits of leathery berries. How easily we discard things in our lives, including our sense of self when we let society dictate what it means to be in your prime. The youth of fresh, perfectly ripe berries offers sweet escape, eaten out of hand, baked into a pie, or churned into ice cream.
Wonderful as that all is to eat, these dried up raspberries will warm cooler nights, and when the snow is falling a few months from now, I’ll watch them float in my tea, preserved from herbs in my garden, and hopefully be reminded there’s a time, place, and purpose for everything, and everyone.
Six Years Ago: Rustic Lemon Cake