It’s barely after dawn, the sun sending long shadows through the trees, smoke curling from a few chimneys, frost on the grass like salt on salad green…and on everything else. There’s a few birds, chickadees, zipping back and forth from the weeping cherry out front to the feeder by the window where Mariellen sits just inside at her computer. Winter is creeping up on us, late this year. Perhaps the Halloween horror of a storm a month or so ago embarrassed the angel in charge of weather. Maybe she moved the snow wheel a bit too far when adjusting things for the northeast. I’m only guessing, but I didn’t at all mind the warm subtropical November we had. But it’s December 3rd now, and things are going to get serious, I suspect.
I used the time the past couple of weeks, time stolen from other duties as assigned, to wander about outside and clean up a bit from that storm where each snowflake that fell weighed at least ten pounds and contained a bit more than a gallon of water. It’s a wonder the weight of it didn’t cause the clouds containing it all to call for a triple A tow! Anyway, during my walk I saw that while such things as tomatoes and cucumbers and the like were toast already, the herbs were just fine, thank you. The parsley was vibrantly green, so was the marjoram, hugging the ground and curling in the tangle around the base of a sage plant that was almost as big as the 30 year old forsythia that keep threatening to engulf my neighbor’s home. Basil, dill, lovage and hyssop were all gone a month or so before. In another place the oregano looked like a small forest. And, if the weather held, I had thoughts of putting Christmas decorations and lights on the rosemary.
It was then that I decided to bring some inside to try my hand at drying them. So I snipped a few twigs from the rosemary and parsley, prepared them and spread them out in one of the rooms upstairs, and walked away. In a week or so they were drying nicely. The room was pleasantly fragrant, too. This was good. Going outside in my shirtsleeves to cut some more, adding bunches of still green and growing parsley to the harvest, now the room was beginning to fill up, the closet draped with parsley hanging from the empty hangers. But it was fun imagining the next couple of months cooking with our own herbs.
Thanksgiving came and I stuffed the turkey simply putting several hands full of herbs in the cavity and listening to the compliments, after smelling the aroma sweetly circulating around the house.
Thus encouraged, in came more herbs. This time marjoram was added to the list. Though not bursting with drying vegetation, it was becoming a bit difficult to make one’s way around the dryatorium. So yesterday the marjoram and rosemary came downstairs. The twigs were stripped and leaves and needles put them into airtight jars (jelly and stuff like that). They look great, and when the lid’s taken off, the aroma leaps out and fills the room. My hands smelled so good after that and for the whole day they stayed that way until I washed them before making supper.
Which leads me to this morning. I realized that it is probably the last opportunity to harvest what I can. Though not yet dressed I slipped out back in the frosty morning stillness and snipped off a bunch or two of sage, rosemary, marjoram and oregano. They rest now in the room across the hall, and I can smell their aroma seeping all the way over here. Sometimes a big nose is a blessing.
I’ll clean them up, arrange them on clean paper towels and fill up that room again with summer smells spending time thinking of more delicious meals, a whole bunch of them. And next year? Next year we’ll get started earlier, and we’ll have basil, dill, lavender, parsley, mint, sage thyme (two or three different kinds)…all of them. Maybe there’ll even be enough for you?
I’ve saved the twigs and am thinking of some way I can dry them, pulverize them and make some kind od incense of them. There are already have a bunch of Russian Sage twigs drying in the garage. They’ll go on one of our fires over Christmas.
Here’s a bit of the abundant harvest: