Nature is heralding the summer heat in Oklahoma with fortissimo intensity. At night, the tree frogs talk to the world with their throats wide open and their volume buttons cranked full to the right. During the day the locusts (you say cicadas, I say locusts?) track the heat waves by vibrating their deafening buzz into rhythmic rolls. In my hot, damp garden soil millions of microbial bugs and extra-small spiders or beetles are working overtime, fueled by perfect conditions to break down a rotten tomato here, or a forgotten carrot there.
My senses are keenly aware of this exorbitant activity of Life as I work beneath the large rhubarb leaves to eradicate weeds, or pull back a curtain of tangled yellow cherry tomato vines to discover the last of the onions.
The Summer is alive, pulsating, pushing and stretching all the plant life in My Little Victory Garden; my efforts to match the production yet keep order sometimes continue until the last ray of sunlight says, “Stop. We’ll start again tomorrow.” I’m glad the Light knows my limits because when I stand up and stretch my tired back, or rest my shaking legs – taxed from assuming a squatting position for too long while checking every pepper plant, I’m surprised that Dusk is already here.
The locusts fade, the frogs take over, and the tiny microbials may still be scurrying but I can no longer see them. There is no denying that the Earth is using all her energy to feed the Cycle of Life right now. But I know a secret…
I know that sometime when the days are shorter, the frogs will eventually change their song for slumber. The locusts will have laid their eggs, moved on or died, and given their bodies back to the earth. And I’ll be spending more time inside the house as the weather changes to a cooler flavor. And THAT, my friends, is when I’ll need a smudging ceremony. My living area will need to be cleansed of the lurking spirits of Worry about my dissertation, the lingering shadows of summer that mock what Wasn’t Completed and must wait until next year, the dread of Time spent in research when I desperately want to run away and sleep for four days and then read forty books.
I’m preparing for that time by drying my beautiful sage I pulled from the garden today. I’m also saving just a bit for recipes I might find that would allow for some dried sage in lieu of fresh. And I’m predicting that when that time comes in late fall or early winter, I’ll walk over to my firebox to build the evening fire, see my smudge sticks and then smile. I love finding winter stores I’ve forgotten.
And then? I’ll toss a bunch of dried sage into my fire along with lavender, a few cedar chips and some sweet grass if I can gather some soon. Then sit down…
and let those troubles go…to be chased away by the smoky aroma of what I prepared today.
So, sing to me frogs and locusts. Grow for me dear vegetables. Work for me beetles and spiders…I know things will be okay now. And I know they’ll be okay later as well.
- I pulled up my large sage plant today, cleaned off the dirt, stripped the rotten leaves and trimmed the roots. Then I divided it up into seven even piles. Six I arranged to for preparing to hang and dry. The last I made with the youngest and most tender leaves. The first six I gathered and tied the stems with twine (see next photo for completed bunches drying). The last I washed gently, removed all the stems and then laid the individuals leaves out flat to dry for cooking.
- Here’s a tip. If you have tons of peppers, or just a few, or perhaps a medium amount. Okay – if you want to try something that worked really well with ANY amount of peppers, try this: saute them in bacon fat until the skins are brown on all sides. Once they’ve cooled a little, peel them and sprinkle with salt. The bacon-y flavor is very subtle but amazing!
- Here is my NEW range, and I’m “cookin’ with gas on all burners.” What a treat to cook fresh Okie corn, fresh local green beans, my own potatoes and onions, some organic chicken tenders I had marinated in my own garlic, chopped Italian flat parsley, my own coriander, olive oil and salt. Okie local dinner for the family!