You see, plants have this subtle way of supporting us. Their companionship is often understated, yet profound—not always as a brewed tea or a crafted tincture, but in simply being there. During the darker seasons of my life, when depression and anxiety cast long shadows, the simple act of gardening was a beacon of healing. And when the forests, those great healers, felt too far a reach, my humble garden offered solace, a sanctuary of growth and balance right at my doorstep.
This journey with plants is ever-evolving. I’m a perpetual student in their green-leafed classroom, always uncovering something new, always finding fresh ways to commune with these wonders of nature. Herbal knowledge is an ocean, and diving in can be intimidating. So I began at the shoreline, with the familiar: herbs from my kitchen, dancing in pots and folded into soaps, their fragrances and energies becoming known to me. Learning their properties, the way some are demulcent and some are astringent, came in time. I quickly took to the comforting powers of carminatives, finding kindred spirits in ginger, mint, rosemary, and fennel, understanding intuitively why they were my chosen few. More complex practices—Soxhlets, percolations, spagyrics—would wait their turn on my path.
Take fire cider, my inaugural potion—it was simple yet potent, and its ingredients were old friends. It became a staple, shared eagerly with my partner and less eagerly with my children, who prefer the sweetness of elderberry syrup.
But fire cider has endured as one of my essentials, a brew I adapt with the turning of each season. With autumn's whisper, thoughts turn to the harvest of roots, to the crafting of vinegars teeming with minerals, and to the preparation of fire cider that will warm the winter months.
In the making of fire cider, there are no rigid rules, but a chorus of fiery and pungent staples often find their way into the mix:
- Hot peppers
- Rose hips
- Star anise
- Yellow dock
Truly, your imagination is the limit - whatever whispers to you!
Chop them finely, let them bathe in tart and tangy raw apple cider vinegar for a month's time. After straining, you might wish for sweetness, and honey shall oblige, creating an oxymel that dances on the tongue. Or, embrace the kick of spicy vinegar as a bold addition to salads and snacks. At the slightest hint of illness, a shot of this concoction is my shield, an herbal warrior boosting the body's defenses.
Embrace the process, unleash your creativity, and may your health flourish!