I was just looking at the journal and realised to my horror that the last posting was in May – where have the months gone? Spring has slipped almost unnoticed into Summer with Autumn only a couple of short months away. I think it’s true that as we age time passes so much more quickly, almost as though we live a parallel temporal existence.
It’s 7.30pm and I’m sitting outside on a bench listening to the murmurings of a distant radio. In the barn the Alembic is filled with rose petals gathered over a couple of blissful days and, having balanced it all up, it quietly fills bottle after bottle with rose aromatic water.
To my left there’s a wooden crate full of the discarded stems of Chamomile, safely stripped of apple scented flowers. Odd heads of lavender scattered across the cushions, missed when we bundled them up earlier in the week on a bright sunny day. Now the remnants of the Clary Sage picked and bundled today by two wonderful volunteers Mughda and Fern who travelled down from London to help.
On my right the dog is lying with his head on my feet eyeing up the rabbits he can see in the field in front, still too hot to make chase. I’m sure they will feature in his twitchy dreams later. In the flower bed beside me there is a mix of favoured flowers and audacious weeds that have grown big and strong in this rich organic soil. The yellow of the fennel beside orange calendula and a particularly striking pink paeony gladden the heart. Poppies still wait to open and sunflowers the same but the 'love in a mist' is frolicking wildly through the bed. Slightly further away there is a mass of cow parsley, burdock and so much comfrey. Eveywhere is a hum with bees.
In front of me the field is glowing yellow in the late golden sunlight, it is a feast for the eyes bordered by full size oaks, elder and crateagus. By the stream the meadowsweet is now replete with fluffy, scented heads, stems glowing red. The house martins dart fast and low above the tall grasses, scooping up unsuspecting insects. They chirrup and purr as they fly together. Pigeons with creaking wings head for the tall trees to roost for the night. Blue tits twitter…endlessly.
It is silent save for bird song and melodic murmurs. I am happy. This is peace.
In the barn, I can smell the rose distilling, it is rosy and green and needs to rest for a little while to settle into itself then I’ll be able to blend it with the other roses I’ve distilled to make the perfect Sussex Rose Aromatic Water.
What a glorious day, what a privileged place to be, all thanks to the mindful stewardship of this land by Collette and Peter at Ashurst Organics who work tirelessly to produce organic veg and who have been generous enough to share their farm with me and the lovely people who join us here as volunteers and friends.
A.S Apothecary has been blessed with people arriving to help just when we needed them from Holly Wood who saw the possibilities, Susan Bell, Emma Lee and Lizzie Mayson the photographers, Marissa Bourke and Nicki Sang the designers, Louisa Thomsen-Brits whose pen guided the text, Will and Emily our gardening champions from last year and the one before, Catherine Cridland and Julian Saurin this year and most recently Emily Webzell and Emily Pick who have attempted to explain the world of PR to me, Julie Harris Pasha who helps steer this wonky ship and Nicky Whitsun-Jones who on a weekly basis reminds us that should we fail to prepare, we must prepare to fail. I have been so touched by the generosity of all of them, they have stepped in and offered wise counsel and wonderful skills quietly and thoughtfully.
In a world where unkindness and hate seem to be spewing forth in a seemingly irrepressible tide it is heartening that there are so many good people out there doing small things to support one another. There is another way. We just have to get out and make it happen.
Small acts of kindness cost nothing but help turn back this tide – so thank you to all of you who have been to the farm and helped out, bought our products, written about us, supported us and shown us so much kindness. We appreciate each and every one of you.