Sweet Autumn Harvest

Working in my studio this afternoon, I paused to swivel my chair toward the windows. Golden October sunlight streamed into the room. Depending on one’s perspective, I was either distracted by the golden light…or invited outside by it. I chose to see it as a beautiful invitation. With October drawing to a close, and afternoons like this one becoming less common, it felt like an opportune time to move through the garden and harvest what I could.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

A Harvest of Sweet Produce

I didn’t change into gardening clothes, so sure was I that a stroll through the garden would satisfy my longing to be outside. Wearing a nice paisley shirt, vest, jeans and boots didn’t deter me though. Soon I was elbow deep in the raised veggie bed, digging up sweet potatoes.

What a great harvest this year! Sweet potatoes piled up in my red tub. I can’t wait to prepare and eat these sweet veggies in the coming days. I’ve already earmarked recipes such as sweet potatoes with braised red cabbage, chili roasted sweet potato fries and cardamom and coconut milk mashed sweet potatoes.

It is incredibly satisfying to me to tuck these little plants into the dirt in the spring, and harvest food during the summer and fall. I plucked a green pepper and a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden as well. One tiny pepper remained on the last pepper plant, however my volunteer tomatoes vines are heavy still with green tomatoes.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Herbs Abound

Most of my herbs are still flourishing. In fact, they are lush with new growth. Sage, lavender, basil, lemon grass, lemon balm, bee balm, chamomile, mint, dill, thyme and rosemary are available for teas and recipes.

The fragrant plants released their scents as I stopped to touch them and pull a few weeds. I feel such peace in my Backyard Paradise, such love. Lemon balm won me over this afternoon. I snipped sprigs of the bright green herb for tea time.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Bringing the Vintage Flowerpot Indoors

Finally, I examined the vintage flowerpot, and made a decision. This container is almost as old as I am. (Read its story.) It has rested for many years in various spots around my front deck and garden. Instinctively, it feels like it’s time to move this treasured keepsake indoors. I fear a hard freeze, after a rain, could damage the flowerpot and that would make me sad.

Resting on my potting table, the ceramic container received a good scrubbing on its exterior and a new plant to cradle. After removing the faded moss roses, I transplanted a Purple Heart plant into the pot. This seemed fitting, as the container came to me from my mom years ago, and the young plant did as well, last spring.

I discovered that the snake plant I had intended to grow in the container is poisonous to cats. Purple Heart is a safer alternative and thrives well indoors. The freshly cleansed and potted container has a new home next to my little entryway table, where it can continue to bring me joy.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Harvest Smile

William Cullen Bryant wrote, “Autumn, the year’s last, loviest smile.”

Autumn offers the loviest smile, indeed. The very air shimmers with magical golden light that seems to ignite a kindred glow within my heart. I love this season of the year, this sweet time of harvest and brilliant colors and the soft sighs of nature as it prepares to sleep.

I’m grateful I turned my chair to appreciate the sunlight. And I’m ever so grateful that I accepted the invitation to venture outdoors.

Sweet Autumn Harvest

Lemon Balm Tea with Cucumber Rolls

I had no idea, when I decided to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week, that this particular week would be so full. What a blessing to look forward to tea time late in the afternoon, after long days of showing property or taking care of other real estate business. It was no mistake that inspiration nudged me toward this fun celebration. I’ve had the opportunity to have creative fun and savor downtime while I sip hot herbal tea and enjoy a healthy treat.

It hasn’t been a coincidence either that interesting recipes and fresh ideas have found their way to me as well this week. Today I prepared a simple and scrumptious treat from a recipe by Anthony William.

Cucumber Rolls with Dipping Sauce

Peel one cucumber (one cucumber = one serving) and slice lengthwise into long thin strips. Add slices of veggies or fruits of choice. (Suggestions: avocado, tomato, melon, peppers, celery, carrots, mangoes…any fruit/veggie desired.) Tightly roll up cucumber slice with veggies/fruits inside. Secure with a toothpick and set aside.

Dressing

Combine in blender and blend until smooth: 1/4 cup chopped tomato, 1/4 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons raw, hulled hemp seed (available in baking section at Walmart or health food store), 1 cup zucchini, peeled and diced, 1/2 inch piece jalapeƱo, without seeds, 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, 2 dates, 1 garlic clove.

I made the dipping sauce and refrigerated it in a small glass bowl while I made the cucumber rolls. I don’t own a wide vegetable slicer so I just peeled the cucumber and cut it into thin strips with a knife. For my rolls, I included slices of avocado, carrots, tomatoes, and green peppers. I secured each roll with a toothpick and placed the finished rolls in the refrigerator while the lemon balm tea steeped. When I arranged the rolls on my plate, I removed the toothpicks and placed them seam side down. They stayed rolled up.

Today’s herbal tea is a favorite of mine. Lemon balm is very easy to grow. In fact, I have to be vigilant or it will take over my garden and my yard! I love its lemony scent and crisp taste, plus lemon balm is so good for me.

What bliss to relax with a steaming cup of lemon balm tea and let the busyness of the day ebb away.

The cucumber rolls were easy to prepare and not only delicious but fun to eat. And that dipping sauce was wonderful…slightly spicy and full of flavor! I’ll be making it again for use as a dip with veggies and to top salads. I sliced up a sweet juicy pear to complete my light meal.

I had ahas and deep thoughts during tea time today, about the flow of life and the manifestation of desires and the playfulness of this beautiful dance I am engaged in with the Divine. I’ll save them to share at the conclusion of Afternoon Tea Week.

Tomorrow is another early start to a full day. Although it is barely dark outside, my bed is calling to me. I think I will answer that call.

Journey 236: Lemon Balm Tea in the Garden

I have been drawn repeatedly into the garden today. Early this morning, I strolled through before heading out for the office and then to Mt. Vernon for a closing. I spied a praying mantis immediately, who turned his head to peer back at me. 

 

When I finished work late this afternoon, I returned to sit in the garden, surrounded by beauty and mild sunshine. I kicked off my shoes and settled back into a chair, watching bees and butterflies flitting from flower to flower. Life. Life filled my own little paradise, along with peace. 

 

After a quick summertime dinner, I returned to the herb garden to snip sprigs of fresh lemon balm and mint. The unusually cool temps we are experiencing remind me that fall is approaching. I wanted a cup of hot herbal  tea. 
 

I used my tea mug with the little mesh strainer to prepare the tea. Filling the mug with steaming water, I let the lemon balm and mint leaves steep, covered, for about 10 minutes. A delicate lemony aroma filled the air and I looked forward to sipping the herbal tea out by a cozy little fire in the fire pit. 
 

While I was waiting, I googled the health benefits of lemon balm tea. This member of the mint family is great for treating disorders of the digestive system and cleansing the liver. It has antioxidant properties as well. Lemon balm is most recognized for its calming effect, relieving stress and lowering anxiety. Although I wasn’t experiencing stress or anxiety, the light green tea was flavorful and soothing, and I felt very relaxed after drinkng a cup. 

  
I lingered in the garden long after the sun set, sipping my lemon balm mint tea, watching the little crackling fire, listening to the droning song of the cicadas. The cool air carried the scent of herbs as they stirred just beyond the flickering firelight. What bliss. It feels like summer is slipping away, the shorter days signaling the trees to begin changing the colors of their leaves. It won’t be long until this garden shifts in response, but there is beauty present at every stage, during every season. I’ll enjoy every moment.