We’ve made it to the last day of summer 2020. The year that just keeps on giving, or is it taking away? Some times it is hard to tell. They say you should make hay while the sun is shining. I guess that means you should take advantage of good times to store up things for the bad times to come. In my experience, actually making hay, usually involves a lot of looking to the horizon, watching for the storm clouds which seem to come, inevitably, once you get the hay on the ground. Well, I don’t have hay, but I do have lavender, so I guess I’ll make soothing beverages while the lavender is plenty. Won’t you join me now as we stand and make the aptly named, Aromatherapy.
It occurs to me that maybe some of you did not grow up on a farm and that you might not be familiar with the vagaries of making hay when the sun is, hopefully, shining. It’s not a long, drawn out process so I’ll run you through the basics. You plant tall grasses, there are lots to choose from so consult the Co-Op or your Department of Agriculture land agent to find what works best for you. Once it grows to maturity you cut it and it lays in wide swathes in the field to dry out a bit. As it dries you use a hay rake to flip it, fluff it up an bit and lay it into thicker rows that are easier for the hay baler to pickup. Pass over it with the automatic baler which will pack it into easy to store bales of hay, little rectangular ones perfect for absolutely wearing you out in the field and in the barn and pretty much anytime you have to handle them or big round bales like we used which require a tractor to manipulate. Simple right? It really is, unless it starts raining. If you bale the hay when it is wet, it will rot. If you let it lay too long in the field, it will rot. If you don’t rake it at the right time and get it flipped it will rot in the bale. If you have a date, too bad, there is hay down. That’s a big part of life on the farm, living by nature’s schedule. So when they say “make hay while the sun is shining” they leave off the “or else.” If you’re making hay, sunshine is required. Especially, if you are hauling square bales. There seems to be some sort of sick correlation between the number of bales to be hauled from the field to the barn and the relative temperature and humidity. The more work there is, the brighter the sun shines and don’t think there is shade in the barn, that’s the oven. You show me a fella or lady who says they enjoy working hay and I’ll show you a liar. Anyway, not sure why we went down that road. Let’s make the drink and see if I figure it out in the closing comments.
Grab your tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of gin, I went with St. George Terroir, since I got the recipe from them; 3/4 of an ounce of dry vermouth, I used Dolin Blanc; 3/4 of an ounce of simple syrup, 3/4 of an ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice and 3 or 4 drops of lavender bitters, I went with my homemade stuff. Add ice and shake to the beat of Gershwin’s “Summertime”, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong combined to record a lovely version, go with that unless you can do without the lyrics in which case Miles Davis has you more than covered. When your tins are well chilled, pour over ice into a Collins glass and top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a couple of sprigs of locally grown lavender, courtesy of Hilltop Lavender Farm. Pop in a paper straw and serve.
How could this not be lovely. So light. So refreshing. Like a grown up lemonade with a kick. But a smooth soothing kick, more of a nudge really. The gin is lovely and the lavender really pushes through, not too much though. Not grandma’s “just for company” soap strong, just enough to let you know it’s there. All balanced by that bright citrus. It’s similar to the Eau de Lavender, but with a smoother, cleaner feel. This drink is wonderful, you should make it, or not, you do you.
So why hay? I don’t know. I never know where we are going, I’m just along for the ride. Maybe I was thinking something about appreciating what you have, because it could be taken away. That’s been on my mind a lot lately, the things we’ve fought for, the things which could be lost. The friends who could find themselves on the outside looking in once again. That worries me plenty. Maybe it goes deeper than that, maybe it is like working that hay when you see the storm clouds gathering. Working harder and faster to protect what you have worked so hard for already. Making plans for how to do it better next time, how to avoid the storms or how to protect the crop, in spite of the rain. You take it however you want. I’m gonna take it as a reminder that storms can’t be reasoned with or fought or really blamed for the destruction. They are a part of nature. People, on the other hand, when they destroy things, when they try to divide and hurt people, they are to be blamed and to be held accountable. So don’t get discouraged, willful destruction is not natural, it can be and should be fought at every turn. Hypocrisy is not inevitable, it is not natural. Hate is learned behavior and not a natural state. Hate is a response to fear. Hate can be overcome. So, make hay while the sun is shining and be ready for the storms confident that your stores will see you through till the sun shines on us once more. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.