Sometimes we need a little reminder to keep it simple. Not to worry too much about making intricate, fancy preparations, or discovering the next big thing. Sometimes, we just want to relax, and enjoy the simple pleasures.
Simplicity has its own kind of elegance and can be savored just as thoroughly as a dish with fifty ingredients. Water, essential to all life, is the ultimate simple pleasure, and nothing satisfies thirst as well or as completely as a cool glass of water. Nothing, perhaps, except this shifting, blooming, seasonal infusion.
This recipe, such as it is, is meant to change with each season and microclimate. Never the same water twice. It is meant to bring beauty to the table, yes, because beauty, too is essential to a full and happy life. Beyond beauty, however, we crave meaning, and here too this simple arrangement does not fail. For all its simplicity, it is a kind of practice to prepare this water, a reminder and an invitation to look, and look again, at the garden and the woods and the life that thrives beneath the sky, even in cracks and forgotten places. To taste this discovery. And yes, it is delicious. It is floral and faint and green and wonderful, and the experience of tasting flowers and scented leaves in such a pure and quenching form is subtly powerful, like the plants themselves.
In the spring, imagine mint and violas, fennel and borage and chamomile and pineapple sage. Come summer, rose geranium is blooming, and the last of the coriander flowers with their lacy umbels echo the larger cream florets of elderflower. Summer, too, is home to basil leaves and flowers, rose petals, shiso and hyssop and lemon verbena. In the fall, as the season cools and dims, rosemary and lavender, tarragon, thyme, and lemongrass seem to carry the concentrated flavors of summer into the infusion.
Walk out into the garden, and gather plants you know to be friends. Edible salvia flowers and leaves, pelargonium, viola, and of course herbs are all good choices. Flowers from strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry carry their own flavor and sweetness and are welcome in the pitcher.
May we thirst and be quenched. May we be nourished by beauty. And may all have access to clean water, plants and animals and oceans and rivers and humans, in time, again.
This preparation is best made a day ahead and left to infuse overnight.
A note here, for your wildcrafting safety; the dried elderflowers for this recipe are purchased from a reputable source (us) in packaged form. These dried flowers come from black elderberry (sambuccus nigra or sambuccus mexicana) and NOT from the red elderberry (sambuccus racemosa), which is toxic. Please be sure of your identification and do not forage for wild foods unless you are an expert at plant identification.
Wash the herbs well. Leave them in larger sprigs rather than mincing them fine, so that they do not get stuck in a dispenser tap and are easier to strain from individual servings if desired.
Place the herbs and flowers in a large glass jar or water dispenser, and pour cool water over them.
Allow the herbs and flowers to infuse overnight in the refrigerator.
Serve with sweet flower garnishes for optimum fanciness, over ice if desired. Borage is nice, or a sprig of thyme or mint.
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