For the last few weeks I have been stirred from my sleep by the increasingly earlier rising sun and the wafting aroma of the star jasmine that, at two years old, is now abundant with blooms. It seems the whole world is redolent, rife with pleasure: the trellising honeysuckle, my deeply scented rose bush, the lemon verbena that has rebounded after a worrisome winter, and the lavender and hyssop that is growing at an alarming rate.
After a scentless period, save for the rising of spices from my stew pot, I now walk through my yard or the market taken in by the assault of spring’s seduction. The whiff of an herb is a thrill not just to my nose, but my imagination and desire as well. Simple is the pleasure of torn mint, parsley and tarragon leaves tossed with once snuggling peas, feta, olives and red onion that screams, hello spring. Now also starts the march toward a cupboard merchandized with jars preserving this and future moments.
My first vinegar of hyssop and red wine; desiccating in sugar rose petals will scent a cake and soon lavender buds will be drowned in almond oil that might be used in cooking, or perhaps, be massaged into my partner’s aching muscles. This is just the distance rumble of the stampede that is coming of more heavenly delights to be found to be enjoy right then or, pickled or preserved to help lift one's spirit out of the bleakness of winter’s inevitable repast.
**When preserving any flower or herb in sugar or salt first make sure they are organically grown in order not to concentrate pesticides as well fragrance in the jar. Sprinkle a layer about 1-inch thick on the bottom then layer a thin layer of whatever you are desiccating. Repeat this layering ending with a layer of the sugar or salt. Store in a cool, dark spot for a few weeks, or longer, before using.**