It’s arrived, in this hemisphere at least. Winter.
There’s something poetic about winter. Life is trembling on the branches. The mornings are colder, the days shorter. As a seasonal melancholy sets in, the weeks have been equally marked by days spent meditating on the rain drops that persistently run down our glass window panes, and days spent gazing up at the particular razor blue of a clear, winter sky. The chill in the air stands at odds with the Australian evergreen trees that defiantly resist the change, but there’s no denying it – the colder months are here.
There’s a beauty in this season nestled in the in-between; when nature is shedding its skin and exposing a whole new side to itself. When, in the home, we find comfort in woollen knits, thick socks, flannel sheets, lit candles, slow roast dinners, steaming tea and the intimacy of being held and warmed by those we love. When, out in the biting wind, we wrap ourselves more closely in our scarves and fend off the early symptoms of a cold or a flu.
Padding around our home in the quieter, slower mornings while the winter sun streams through our linen curtains, I’ve been preparing our home apothecary for all that these colder months may bring.
Our pantry shelves are lined with jars of everything from whole cardamom pods and witch hazel to dried flower buds and chamomile. I buy them in bulk, sometimes compulsively. I steam them, drink them, cook with them, bathe in them. I write quick poems & prayers with them. I give them as gifts—as teas, salts, and oil blends — packed in amber bottles, preserving jars and muslin bags.
As we inch into winter’s margin, I thought I would share a few of my favourite home remedies below that we draw on in both prevention and recovery. I hope that, in the grieving of waning sunshine and in the celebration of the stillness and margin that winter brings, these meditations and brews would hold space for your soul to feel it all.
HERBAL BATH SOAK
- 1 cup plain epsom salt
- 1 cup coarse sea salt
- 1 tsp organic dried lavender buds
- 1 tsp organic dried chamomile flowers
- 1 tsp organic dried rose buds
- 20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 10 drops ginger essential oil
1. Combine salts in a large glass jar.
2. Add essential oils and stir until well-dispersed in the salts.
3. Add dried botanicals and mix until evenly distributed.
4. Keep the jar in your bathroom and add around 1/2 cup of your bath soak mixture into a full bath. So delightful.
GOLDEN TEA BLEND (makes 2 cups)
- Fresh ginger (or 1/4 tsp ground ginger)
- 1.5 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp local raw honey
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup whole/almond/oat/soy milk
- Dried chamomile flowers
- Cinnamon quills
1. To a small saucepan, add all ingredients and whisk to combine over medium heat.
2. Heat until hot to the touch but not boiling – around four minutes – whisking frequently.
3. Turn off heat and taste to adjust flavour by adding more honey and/or spices as required. Strain the mixture and pour into your favourite mug/cup. Best enjoyed fresh, but any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days (just reheat it on the stove top until hot).
ELDERBERRY SYRUP (makes around 750ml)
- 2/3 cup organic dried black elderberries
- 3.5 cups filtered water
- 2 tbsp organic grated ginger
- 1 tsp organic ground cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 tsp organic ground cloves or 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup local raw honey (adding more or less to taste)
1. Add filtered water and all ingredients except for the honey into a saucepan.
2. Bring the saucepan to a boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for about 45-60 minutes or until the liquid has been reduced by half.
3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
4. Pour the mixture through a sieve, running a wooden spoon over the mixture to squeeze every last drop of the syrup out.
5. While the syrup is lukewarm, stir in the honey until it reaches your desired sweetness.
6. Store the syrup in glass jars in the fridge or freezer.
7. To use, take 1/2-1 tablespoons daily for preventative measures, or if you are sick, take a tablespoon every 2-3 hours to get the most healing benefits out of the syrup. You can even make elderberry jellies out of this syrup!