Winter is Confusing for Busy People

I don’t know if this post will teach you anything, unless your personality is similar to mine. I am busy ALL. THE. TIME. If I’m not busy doing something that has some sort of worth to me, I feel guilty, as if I am being lazy somehow. I’m sure there is a Flower Essence that would help me deal with this, but for the moment I am just sitting around listlessly trying to decide what is the most worthwhile use of my time.

All my sewing projects are caught up. Most of the things I like to craft, little things to sell at fairs and online, haven’t been selling well lately so I don’t want to bother making more. I can crochet like crazy when I have a specific project I’m working on, but no one buys gloves much anymore and all I have is a scrap blanket left to make. I haven’t felt the drive to paint anything since last year. If I am not actively doing SOMETHING that could either improve my skills somehow or eventually lead to me living a more comfortable life (making money usually, which is why I make things to sell) then my time is being wasted. Of course I do read and I watch TV/Movies, but anytime between the hours of 7am and 5pm, I feel the need to be doing something worthwhile.

Everyone’s definition of “worthwhile” is different, I know. In spring/summer/fall, strolling through the woods and communing with, listening to, and just feeling nature counts as worthwhile to me. But February in Connecticut is not the time to be running barefoot through the trees and trying to talk to flowers. The trees are still asleep, the flowers and herbs hiding underground waiting for warmer days to emerge. Even my favorite oak tree out back barely gives me a sleepy welcome when I touch her, as if I was trying to have a chat with a Snorlax.

Heck, there’s still snow on the ground!

This time of year is unpleasant for me, because even if I start some seeds indoors or clean the chicken coop, these tasks take such a short time that I feel something wanting. It’s as if my mind is suffering from stagnation, as if I had a terrible condition of the heart I need to address that can only be healed by the earth herself. I have been reading farming and foraging books, which improve my knowledge but make me yearn for warmer days, even if that means 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) instead of 30.

There aren’t any plants I can forage with this much snow and Ice still on the ground. I don’t like trimming more branches than I need to use, and right now I have plenty of birch oil and pine tincture to last at least another year. No point in harvesting more than I need.

This is supposed to be a time for inner reflection and improvement. I’ve been writing, which is helpful. But I can only push out a couple of pages a day. I feel restless, I feel the need to DO something. I might start cleaning curtains soon, I’m getting that desperate. Netflix doesn’t help much–the choices are so many that more often than not, I give up and toss in a DVD from my cupboard rather than spend an hour trying to find something new to watch.

I think that the moment the snow has melted, I must go outside and stand barefoot in the mud, if for no other reason than to feel the vibration of the earth humming beneath my toes. That is, if I can find a spot not covered in goose poop…

I believe I will go home today and try to create an incense blend that reminds me of spring. Goldenrod smells absolutely lovely and floral, even when burning. I can grind the last bits of white sage I have left over, and a bit of mugwort to help ground me since I can’t actually touch the ground. Perhaps some Eastern Red Cedar to give me the woodsy scent, and a little white bitch to help it burn more quickly.

I think Cabbage (the goose) is going to start laying for the season soon. Once I see some remnants of grass in the lawn and hold a giant goose egg in my hand, my mood should improve. Once it’s warm enough to say hello to my plants and actually feel them answering back, all things will be right again. Once I hear the birds singing endlessly with their mating calls, I will feel happier than I do in these dark days of confusion, when I can’t decide which of so many directions to go.

I want to say hello to a tree and feel its welcome hug in return. I want to see chicks walking the yard and seedlings sprouting their heads through the soil.

I want to dance around an open fire on a moonlit night to the sound of drums, cool grass beneath my feet and fireflies in the air.

Will you join me?

Fire Cider Time

It’s that time of year again! I was always taught that you only harvest horseradish (the key ingredient in fire cider) in months that end in an “R”, and since September was still hot and dry, I waited until early October to harvest my root crops. Unfortunately, my attempt at growing ginger this year was a bust… but I DID manage to grow a small amount of horseradish, some turmeric, onions, garlic, various hot peppers, and all the herbs I put into my fire cider.

Giant jar of fire cider I made this week

Fire Cider is not exactly a ferment… I think it’s more of a tonic, really. You grate and chop all these ingredients, plus lemon juice and zest, and stuff them into a jar. Then cover with apple cider vinegar. I like to cheat and will buy a small jar of ACV “with the mother” to get the probiotic in there, and just finish off the jar with regular distilled ACV, since it will all incorporate anyhow. I let this macerate generally 6-8 weeks, shaking the jar occasionally.

First time growing turmeric!

Once that time is up, you simply strain all the solids from the vinegar and pour the vinegar into a clean glass jar, preferably with a (non-reactive) plastic lid. You can throw the solids into a blender and use them as a meat rub or add a bit to broth or soup for a wild kick.

Fire cider is generally drank in a shot glass– I will take at least half a shot’s worth if I’m feeling under the weather or think I may have a virus coming into my system. Definitely drink a full shot if you’re already sick. I suggest you try a small amount of the fire cider first before you decide how you want to take it. I think the easiest way it to just suck it back quick like a shot and slap your hand on the counter top with a whoop. To each his own…

If you aren’t keen on the flavor, you can try adding some honey, or mixing it with some juice or water. It can also help to have some juice nearby as an after-drink once you’ve swallowed the cider. AND if you’re a drinker, it actually goes really well with a little bourbon and mixed into a Hot Toddy.

Ginger and turmeric harvest

The benefits of fire cider are simple— it’s basically a massive dose of antiviral medicine that will kick the living crap out of whatever virus (sand some bacteria) has invaded your body. It’s mostly used during winter time, when you’re stuck indoors and around other people, and your body’s immune system is barraged with tons of wee bacteria beasties with no chance of escape in the open air. But it can be helpful for spring time allergies or that weird unexpected summer cold that catches you off guard. Basically, fire cider helps burn the virus out of your body.

Do you take Fire Cider? Or do you make your own? I’ve been making mine every year for over ten years and now my family can’t live without it.

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