It was the sun. The sunshine weaves
A pattern on dull stones: the sunshine leaves
The portraiture of dreams upon the eyes
Before it dies:
All Summer through
The dust hung white upon the drowsy planes
Till suddenly they woke with the Autumn rains.
-- from The Fête by Charlotte Mew
As summer begins to fade, I have found myself gathering & gathering bouquets... small ones that fit into empty tincture bottles, larger ones that stand tall in a vase, full & bushy ones in tin cans like my friend Hannah makes.
I gather them from the gardens & the roadsides or the trailsides while I am walking. Never too much, just one buttercup here, two wands of goldenrod there, a fluffy sprig of dog fennel to fill it all out & bring an earthy sweet fragrance to the mix.
These bouquets will grace a shelf, a window sill, the kitchen table... always, there is one on our hearth, which is the altar space for our home.
These bouquets may be given to friends on their birthdays, the neighbor who loves chrysanthemum in the autumn, or as an offering to spirit & beauty & our home.
Sometimes, I toss an old bouquet into the compost, to give it back to the earth. Sometimes it will go into my wildflower garden if there are plenty of seeds that I know will scatter & flourish--this is how I have created patches of queen anne's lace in different parts of the land.
Other times, I will dry the bouquet, like the one I gathered in the Poconos the morning that I left: a nosegay of peppermint, queen anne, buttercup, yarrow, fern, plantain, jewelweed, viburnum, & wild grass.
And it is with ones like this, that I toss them somewhere special, more intentional, more in ceremony.
Onto a fire, into Swift Creek, at the base of a tree.
In the Celtic tradition, there has long been a practice of tossing flowers into sacred springs & wells. Long before & long after the Christian reformation forbade it, "many pilgrimages... long retained [the custom] of throwing nosegays into springs & fountains, & chaplets into wells."
There is something effortless & instinctual about gathering flowers for a bouquet. Something innocent & easy.
So often, we think things must have a use beyond simply existing, & bouquets, in their ephemeral beauty, in their wilting nature, simply don't fit into a utilitarian category.
In gathering bouquets, part of myself is freed from "making medicine."
Really though, in the select & careful choosing of plants & blossoms for my bouquet, I am still making medicine, I am still connecting with the sensual pleasure & in conversation with the plants.
At times I feel that making a bouquet helps me to feel into the way I am creating my own life.
If my own life is a giant bouquet... what flowers do I want to select for it, what branches & scents & textures am I choosing? Which bouquets are ready to be offered to the compost, which ones are ready to be made?
As the summer fades, I invite you into a practice of making intentional bouquets. What I mean is this: feel moved to create one. Go outside, touch & smell & admire the flowers, the grace of a wild grass.
Choose which plants you will include in your bouquet slowly & savor the act of it: as if choosing from the most decadent feast you've ever laid eyes upon.
Sing as you do it. Or move in mediation. Don't take more than what you need, just select enough.
Place your bouquet in a room or a space that needs some flower medicine & the presence of your intentional harvesting. Or give it to a friend, a lover, a neighbor, a well, a tree.
“With light fantastic toe the nymphs Thither assembled, thither every swain; And o’er the dimpled stream a thousand flowers, Pale Lilies, Roses, Violets, and Pinks, Mix’d with the greens of Burnet, Mint, and Thyme, And Trefoil, sprinkled with their sportive arms. Such custom holds along th’ irriguous vales, From Wreken’s brow to rocky Dolvoryn, Sabrina’s early haunt."
-- from The Fleece