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The Memory of Elderflower


 Pictured above are the cuttings from the farm.  They have grown tall and lushes.

One of the closest emotional connections to memory is through scent. Each Summer Solstice I take this journey while brushing my nose upon a cluster of elderflowers, and inhaling the sweet  delicate scent. As a young child I spent hours exploring the forest of our rural home usually arriving back at the house with my feet covered in dirt, because in the summer, I did not wear shoes. My mother scolding me as I try to walk in the house. We were suppose to wash off our feet at the wellhouse hand pump. I would forget many times for I was in deep thought floating through the natural discoveries I had made. My mother tried to "civilize" me by taking me to piano lessons but eventually gave up. My sister, however, took to the piano lessons. Every week Mom would load us in the car to drive the 4 miles to another farm where the piano teacher lived. I would explore the farm while my sister took her lesson. During the summer, along the side of the red barn, stood large bushes filled with creamy white flower clusters. I would stick my face in them inhaling the sweet divine aroma while having no concern of bees. (That is another story, my love for bees). Life went on, I grew up, raised a family, the usual things that happen. I stopped mindfully smelling the elderflowers every Summer.

https://youtu.be/3QX8tY_r__A   (Video of my sister playing the piano)

Many years later I had just started working with Prairie Star, Lisa asked that I go with her to harvest at a garden she was working on. Traveling up the road, I kept thinking, "I know this place...". Could it possibly be? Sure enough we pull up by the red barn and there were my beloved elderflowers in full bloom. I was almost in tears. I ran to the barn to inhale the sweet scent.

A few years later, I was gifted elder starts from my co workers. I planted them not knowing they were from my former piano teacher's farm. It was a goosebump moment for me. They have grown tall and lush next to my house reminding me of my childhood and reawakening my love for Elderflower.

  

American Elder, Sambucus canadensis, is a native flowering shrub which produces berries. She can grow to 5-12 feet tall. Her cluster of creamy white flowers with yellow stamen will bloom starting around Summer Solstice. The flowers can be made into fritters, tea, tincture and cordials. The berries start out like a wee green nodule before slowly turning into black colored berries with deep purple juice. NOTE: Never consume the green berries. The ripe berries are harvested in late August through September depending on location. It takes  patience to pluck berries from the stem. 

My hands are always stained purple with juice for several days after, however, I love the reminder and the experience. Some folks will place the fresh berries on a cookie sheet and freeze the berries for a few hours which makes for easy quick plucking. The ripe berries must be cooked (never consumed raw!) and then turned into jams, pies, syrup, vinegar (aka shrub), tinctures, and YES wine! Traditionally, Elderflower has been used in a tea to help alleviate fever, keeping cool in the summer, or a gentle calming tonic when upset. The berries have been traditionally used for an immune support during Winter. I use the syrup as a sweetener for my morning tea, it is very delicious.

 

We carry several Elderberry and Elderflower products which you can find on our website or stop into the store - we would love to hear your Elder stories!

 

 

 


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