Friday, January 22, 2010

Wild Weather and Good Tea

Wild nights are my glory. - Mrs. Whatsit, A Wrinkle in Time

Wild days, too. Here I was, quietly minding my own business and watching the clouds drifting through out of the corner of my eye when the world went dark, small hail began falling from nowhere, and a brilliant flash illuminated the little ice pellets bouncing like miniature toy balls on the ground followed a moment later by a roll of thunder that seemed to be a wheel traveling into eternity, shaking the earth around it before fading away. Even as the storm cell recedes and the birds come out of their hiding places, the thunder rumbles on though ever-decreasing in volume.

Yesterday our county recorded the lowest ever barometer reading since they started recording in 1881: 29.15 inches of mercury. This record low pressure front that has moved through is trailing plenty of unstable weather which makes for interesting weather watching. I didn't realize that I was so fascinated by the weather, but I suppose it helps to have interesting weather to watch! Most of the time there isn't much to see here.

The Cottage is situated in a valley that nestles up against a mountain in Southern California, where the weather patterns are generally quite stable. It does mean, however, that I am having to learn that the inland valley microclimate is a whole different microclimate than the coastal microclimate in which I was born and raised. The range of plants available to someone seeking to create a water-wise garden is quite wide, though the number of typical garden vegetable plants is far more limited! I am having fun researching the native plants that I could choose for my small space, and even more fun learning about the various medicinal and ceremonial uses for them. I haven't made any decisions yet, but with share when plans come into the works.

In the meantime, I will share with you a favorite tea blend I make with a lovely and fragrant native herb (and which has been a staple in my pot with all of this crazy and cool weather!):

For 1 cup of tea combine 1 tsp or 1 teabag of good, plain black tea with 1/2 tsp of dried or 1 tsp of fresh white sage leaves, broken up into small pieces. Steep for 4 minutes in just-boiling water and remove the tea and sage. The sage is quite strong, so I will sometimes soften it with just a hint of local wildflower honey or agave syrup though stevia or sugar will work also. If you prefer green tea this will work, but it would be preferable to use garden or common sage to allow the flavors to work better together! Sage is quite a warming herb and enjoys being mixed with other herbs like rosemary and thyme to help clear up congestion and breathing difficulties when suffering from a cold.

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