According to meteorologists, December is the beginning of winter. How considerate of the spirit of weather to oblige . . . overnight a blanket of arctic air has swept down across most of the British Isles giving a lot of us the shock of cold. I am writing this the day before but I knew it would happen because we have weather forecasters who tell us, quite reliably, what weather is going to happen in the near future. They base their forecast on computer models which track pressure systems across the globe. This is a great service as it allows us to be ready, to alter our life course, to be efficient and in control.
In a time not long ago, we did not know what weather the next day would bring . . . even in the age of early radio, forecasters could not rely on the vast amounts of information that we have today. Before radio the weather was a great enigma and to forecast future weather relied on a form of divination. 'Fore' means in the future and 'cast' means to throw, or in this case, to predict. In the 14th and 15th centuries, knowing future weather was an act of predicting or divining messages from our environment. In today's world, knowing what our weather will do leaves me a little unnerved. I have the feeling that I'm missing an element of surprise and my life is rarely affected by the weather that I wake up to. At most I wait for a dry day to do my washing as I don't have a tumble drier and am loath to fill my old house with damp steaming washing. Today my washing will dry on the washing line with the sun beating on it's front and a northerly breeze pushing at it's back. Our modern weather knowledge has a downside - let us consider the arrival of snow.
In my childhood the wonder of waking up to snow created a feeling of awe mixed with delight. Snow that arrives silently in the night acts as a transformative event. Our outside world is changed from green and brown to white and reflective - the inside of our houses has a strange luminosity as the world outside is so bright. Even now, should I wake to snow, my first impression or feeling is of joy and amazement. Many see it as a nuisance, particularly those who need to travel or work outside. To a child it is a sudden day-long playground. No school, an endless day of dragging a toboggan up a slope for the relatively short and thrilling slide back down, coming indoors at dusk with red fingers and face, dripping clothes and a tiredness borne of exhilaration, sitting by the fire to warm. Even now, as an adult who no longer toboggans, I have to go out and be 'in' the snow weather, cavort in my own way and wonder at the magic of how weather transforms everything we see and do. It certainly transforms my day. I leave the house by foot and enter the quiet of a vehicle-less world. Visible foot prints in the road replace the absence of tyre tracks. The countryside is no longer distinct but has rounded snow edges, lumps and bumps, pillow like and inviting. Best of all though are the screams of delight from children which echo throughout the day, not just at school break time . . .
Back to today and and the near future. We are forecast cold dry weather over most of our Isles for the next week or so. There will be frost and possibly icy conditions. It is a wonder to be prepared in this way but secretly (or not as I'm telling you in type), I hope for snow in which I can cavort with wonder and joy. Thank you to weather for giving us such variety . . . Mandy
Hands on Herbal Freya reports on the popular Hands-on-Herbal session in November
Lots of chopping and strong aromas!
Hands on Herbals - the making of a winter tonic
We made plenty of Fire Cider at our first Hands on Herbal in November. A lovely group of people happily chopped up our gorgeous horseradish, onions and garlic along with a few other immune-boosting herbs such as beautiful bay and rustling rosemary fresh from the farm. This warming rooty brew will help ward off colds and infections and stimulate the immune system through the winter.
Hands on Herbals are half day sessions where you are invited to come along and make herbal preparations – a vinegar in this case, but others will include syrups and cordials, oxymels, tinctures and teas. The sessions will be seasonally based and hopefully we will be able to gather many of the ingredients as we go. Hands on Herbals will help you connect with the land and the plants in a way that you can take home with you and continue in your own practice. Look out for more dates in the spring . . . Freya.
Fire cider before and a few weeks later
2019 - 2020 events update
in date order
What's happening this year and next - anything in blue and underlined is a weblink.
Any questions or enquiries please get in touch.