Since I first began to visit it a year ago in midsummer, my Thoughtful Spot has been a haven, a refuge of permanence and rhythm, a place without chaos, and filled with the marvelous. But even as the seasons have changed in my thoughtful spot, so the seasons of life change.
Another year is upon us and it is time to seek out new challenges, and mine is to find Thoughtful Spots everywhere. I have recently moved from my quite rural nook to the outskirts of a busy downtown, and, though sorely missing my pathless woods and lonely pastures, I am discovering that quiet thoughtful spots, little corners of beauty and wonder, can be found wherever you may be.
Always be on the look out for the presence of wonder.
- E. B. White
So join me on this new adventure of searching for a little hermitage, surrounded by the beauty of nature, to study and observe and marvel at, every month. Whether it be an old log in the hundred acre wood, a mossy rock beside a waterfall, or path to the grocery store through maples that are just beginning to turn, these thoughtful spots must be sought after and discovered, wondered at and then shared, as they teach us to never take for granted the glorious minutia of daily life, and the overwhelming beauty with which God has filled the world around us.
It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to.
- J. R. R. Tolkein
Many complaints have been made against the hot and muggy southern summers, but I have always loved them. There's a calm and stillness in the humid air that is not as unpleasant as it's made out to be, and provides a lovely contrast to three other seasons who's scents and breezes are filled with eagerness and expectancy and energy. So I really do love a southern summer, I love the tall iron weed and the garden's abundance and the few, brief months in which there are leaves on the black walnut trees. But this summer I experienced what I have not seen for many years, a New England summer, and it was spectacular.
Great is the sun, and wide he goes /Through empty heaven with repose;
Green is the grass and the leaves of trees,
Green is the smell of a country breeze.
Green is a coolness you get in the shade
Of the tall old woods
Where the moss is made.
Green is an olive, and a pickle.
The sound of green is a water trickle.
Green is the world after the rain,
Bright and bathed and beautiful again.
- Mary O'Neill, What is Green?
The earth has donned her mantle of brightest green;
all things are glad and flourishing.
And so... with the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow fast in movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
The air has cooled in an instant, a rumble of thunder is overhead. Old childhood words dance through my thoughts, as they always do in this particular sort of weather. Wind's in the east, mist's blowing in/Like something is brewing, about to begin...
Roses have always held a prized place in the herbalist’s materia medica. Rose petals have strong anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and astringent properties and are very high in antioxidants and vitamin C. They are a valuable first aid herb and can be used topically to soothe and ease inflammation caused poison ivy or similar skin irritations, and the petals have been used for centuries to aid in wound healing, as they relieve pain, prevent infection, and reduce inflammation. An infusion of the petals has been shown to relieve headaches, help lower a fever, and support the immune system, and, of course, the marvelous scent of roses has also gained this herb lasting fame. The essential oil has long been valued for its ability to lift the spirits, and both historical herbalism and recent studies agree that the fragrance of roses can aid in relieving anxiety and stress.
Wild roses, a general phrase for a multitude of unique species, grow throughout most of the United States. Commonly found varieties that are excellent for medicinal use include Rosa mulitflora, Rosa palustris, and Rosa carolina, all of which are thorny shrubs that produce strongly scented, five petaled flowers in the spring, and bright red hips in the late autumn. Many cultivated roses also contain medicinal benefits, particularly older varieties with a strong fragrance, however, roses that do not have a scent or have been sprayed with pesticides should be avoided.
There are many ways to preserve medicinal herbs, and one of the simplest methods of preserving rose petals is to simply air dry them on a mesh rack, or in a low dehydrator. They can then be stored in a glass jar with a tightly fitting lid and used for blending teas or making infused oils and vinegars. However, my personal favorite way to preserve fresh rose petals is to steep them in honey. Honey preservation has a long and fascinating history, and as honey is recognized as one of the few foods that has an indefinite shelf life, it is the perfect method to both preserve and enhance the medicinal properties of fresh, low-moisture herbs. It is always best to use raw honey, preferably from a local source, when making herbal preparations.
These beautiful flowers have delighted gardeners, poets, and herbalists alike for centuries, and the healthful benefits of this herb can be easily infused into daily life. So next time you pass a rambling bramble bush, stop, and smell the roses, and then gather their petals and enjoy the beautiful medicinal properties of this wildflower.
Rose Petal Honey
- Fresh rose petals (enough to fill a jar)
- Raw honey
Spring is a lovely reminder of how beautiful change can be.
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection...
in every leaf of springtime.
It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.
Here comes the sun, little darling...
Now crystal clear are the falling waters, /And bonnie blue are the sunny skies.
Through the woods, along the creek bank, and surrounding this little moss covered seat, all around me, at my feet and clambering up the the slopes above me and down the rocks to the creek below is a tiny, wondrous world of wildflowers.
A violet by a mossy stone, half hidden from the eye
As fair as a star, when only one is shining in the sky.
Though its beginnings might be so subtle they slip by if we're not paying close attention, there always comes a moment when spring undeniably, irrepressibly, gloriously takes over the quiet contemplation of the winter season and replaces it with an explosion of joyful celebration. In this little Thoughtful Spot, that moment has just arrived.
White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colors; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.
I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, 'Go to sleep darlings, till the summer comes again.'
It’s the great, big, broad land ’way up yonder,
It’s the forests where silence has lease;
It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.
The waves have a story to tell me, /As I lie on the lonely beach;
Chanting aloft in the pine-tops, / The wind has a lesson to teach;
... a lush carpet of pine needles...
is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.
If winter comes, can spring be far behind?
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, "Ode to the West Wind"
...every day is the best day in the year.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
- John 1:3
Do You Have a
Many current trends in natural health focus on ecotherapy and shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, reiterating with scientific studies and medical terminology something that Winnie the Pooh taught us many years ago: we all need
a "Thotful Spot".
We need a little corner surrounded by nature where we can sit and be still, ponder and pray, and observe closely the beauty around us.
These posts are musings and meanderings from my Thoughtful Spots, recorded once every month, and interspersed with occasional ramblings about my favorite medicinal herbs.
I hope you'll join me in finding a Thoughtful Spot, visit it often, record the things that make you marvel, and remember,
"the world will never starve for want of wonders..."
- G.K. Chesterton