It's nearing 90 degrees as I write this last missive. Ice is clinking in a glass, condensation beaded on the clear mason jar, and my skin is salty from sweating under the sun. I've been working to get the last of the bolting chard out to make room for a summer planting of eggplants and herbs, working to clear head and heart, working to grow food because the connections that it fosters are greater than the monetary value of what I can produce on my small mountain homestead. Summer's ramping up, the heat is rising, things are changing, but the feel of soil in my hands never fails to bring a kind of quiet euphoria, a sense of connectedness and purpose. When I stop work and sit down to sip this glass of flowers, another kind of peace settles over me, like the subtle shifting of light as the day moves from afternoon to sunset.
We could have chosen any recipe to accompany this last journal reflection, and heaven knows that there are a multitude of wonderful, complex recipes that we have published on this platform over the years. But I wanted it to be something simple, something that fosters ease, something that invites connection without obligation. I wanted something that felt like a celebration, something easy and relaxed and beautiful. This recipe does all that, and I invite you not to dismiss it just because it is so simple. Of all the tricks and kitchen alchemies I've engaged with over the years, embracing beauty and celebrating simple ingredients is perhaps the most profound movement I could suggest to someone looking to invigorate their cooking, or heck, their entire life. What easy joys are available to all of us, if we could but make the space for them. Look for the ways that joy attracts joy, the ways that feeding delight engenders more delight. This does not negate the value of hard work, the necessity of labor, the inevitable sadnesses that will come. These things are necessary, too, of course. But the antidote to burnout, or grief, lies in finding ways to celebrate what we have. Not as a kind of Pollyanna-ish negation of sorrow, but as a thoughtful balance to despair, an intentional recalibration of perception.
I lift my glass to you all, who have taken the time to read these land-based reflections over the years. I take long drink of gratitude, for what it's meant to be able to share and connect with a wider audience that finds meaning in these musings. Infused in all of these offerings, like flowers in clear water, has been the hope that others will appreciate or be moved by them, will find a way to incorporate not only the recipes and techniques, but the intention behind them, the wish that we all find ways to connect with our earth and our community. That intention remains, like the scent of a rose that lingers after being cut.
There's so much more I could say, arranging words in new combinations to describe the passing of seasons, the comfort in cycles, the excitement of new growth and the letting go of old patterns that no longer serve us. In so many ways I have arranged these same ideas and letters on these pages, many times before. But sometimes the most elegant poems are the spare ones, that say no more than needs to be said, that eschew flowers and flourishes, and still speak clearly to the heart.
Dear friends, thank you for being here, for all these years. I leave you with blessings. Keep connected. Support your small local businesses. Be kind to each other, take care of the land and the water and the air. May good things come your way, may you pass the blessings on to others, in those beautiful round cycles I have been talking about for all these years.
I'll be writing on Substack for the foreseeable future; join me here, if you would like to keep hearing from me, Jess, personally.