Bees dance. If the sun is hot, you’ll swear they talk.
“Walk barefoot through the garden until you find her,” they say.
Paeonia. The bees have held back her stories and claimed her as one of their own. They beckon to follow beyond the fence of rose canes, thorns sharp. An ornate bird bath stands in the distance. You wonder who placed it there and the story behind it.
You follow to a clearing carpeted by moss. Beneath your feet is hidden evidence of another world- a black tunnelled darkness where drowsy beetles sleep and artifacts are buried: the torso of a child’s broken toy soldier, the bones of a bunny, lovingly set to rest in a cloth lined, cardboard box.
A completely different map. Where you stand, a river once flowed. Boulders line the now dusty bank. Ancient time seeps into your bones.
The bee’s drone reminds you: she waits, green fists tight amidst the darkest of foliage. Wild yet tame. Her head bows under the weight of a heavy crown.
You sense a rustle, feel a breeze. Soft petals drop at your feet.
And suddenly, you’re in love again.
The world is a mysterious place, so much of what exists is hidden. This truth magnifies the allure. It is the dance of bees, the forgotten bird bath and mossy life. It is layer upon layer. Such is the peony seed that drops from the swallow’s beak to bury between the crack in the paver. Humble yet proud, it fights to bloom another spring.
Vase: a vessel to hold cut flowers, art, rhymes with ‘place.’
Soft rain fell from blue velvet sky.
What is elegance? Soap and water!
~ Cecil Beaton
Especially if you add lavender. Need convincing? Purple is the colour of royalty and speaks of refinement and luxury. We can all be Queens. Lavender flowers represent: purity, silence, devotion and grace.
Consider an affair with soap. COVID19 has heightened our collective awareness. It’s necessary to break the barrier. Lather. Slow the process. Rinse.
You say, “Oh it’s just soap.”
For me, it’s personal. When you choose a particular brand or scent, thought is present. When you make soap, you infuse a touch of love.
Turn up the music. Assemble ingredients. Think ‘clean.’ Choose ‘pure.’ Dream of Provence in July.
The art of handmade soap is a creative medium. There’s room for individual expression. Google ‘heat and pour’ soap kits on You Tube. You’ll find how- to videos and tips for any formulation.
Shy away from lye: sodium hydroxide (NaOH). It’s caustic and chemistry. If you choose the lye route, take a soap making class from an expert. Simple, safe, ‘heat and pour’ soap kits are available in the Craft Aisle or select specialty shops. Keep soap making utensils separate from everyday use. Keep chosen ingredients simple.
‘Simple Serenity’ Shea Butter, Glycerin is the kit I chose.
I ordered the premixed kit online from ‘Michaels,’ used curb- side pick up.
You’ll need silicone or plastic molds to pour the heated liquid into. Molds are available on- line or in- store at ‘Michaels’ or ‘Hobby Lobby.’ Others re- purpose worn silicone ice cube trays or loaf pans.
Pure essential oils add fragrance notes. Layer. Select everyday items from the kitchen (lemon zest, sweet almond oil, honey, oatmeal) or garden (lavender, peony or rose petals).
You will need,
• one melt and pour soap kit (‘Simple Serenity’ is the brand I chose.)
• one glass measuring cup or double boiler
• pure essential oil: lemon, lavender, rose, vanilla, clary sage, green tea and cucumber. Choose unscented or ‘notes’ that you sense and feel.
• sweet almond oil, honey
• Grate lemon rind onto a paper towel. Cover the peel with an overlay of paper towel. Gently press out excess moisture.
• Grow lavender (for luck). It’s abundant and easy to dry. Pull the florets from the stocks. Between the lemon zest and lavender, your kitchen will be as fragrant as fields in France.
Follow the directions on the instructional video or the kit. Cut six soap cubes from the shea butter slab and place into a glass measuring cup. Microwave for 30 sec. Stir with a wooden spoon or chopstick. Be careful as heated liquid is hot.
Work quickly. Have additional ingredients prepped and ready. Once you’ve added your chosen ingredients, pour the warm liquid into the mold. Let cool. Place mold in the freezer or fridge for a few hours. This helps the soap fully harden. Apply gentle pressure on the back of the mold to release.
Even the simplest bar is beautiful.
“A girl could lather up in a soap like that.”
Total cost: approximately 30 dollars
Yield: 8 bars of homemade soap
She was comfort. A sugar cinnamon woman, a taste lingering on his tongue, a reminder of the past. He closed his eyes and saw a kitchen, a woman, and sweet rolls in autumn.
“Child. Never say, good bye.”
My Grandmother believed “good bye” was an uttered death knell, a cursed spell, a forgetting.
She said, “See you soon.”
I’ll never forget our last Sunday. The year was 1969. The Maple trees, with leaves the colours of sunset, fenced the property. Wind blew off the lake. I wore a leather mini skirt- the height of fashion. My younger sister wore the vest. In the morning, we’d board a flight which would vault us to the east coast and a new life. Neither of us wanted to leave what was familiar: Sunday dinners and family, friendships and home. I placed one hand upon the door handle and paused. My heart pitched.
“Good bye, Grandma.”
“Child. Never say ‘good bye.’ Say, ‘See you soon.’ ”
People give and then they take away. We live, learning to bear their fingerprints, on our hearts. The most painful good byes are the ones left unexplained.
My grandmother never spoke of ‘The Old Country’ and the home she’d left. No one dared speak of the past while in her presence. It was forbidden. She was a woman who had endured that which is unbearable. With grace, she had learned to look straight on, to not stumble.
I’ve never been too good about ‘good bye.’ Even, ‘see ya,’ sticks to my tongue. I keep those I love forever and leave in silence. I hold to hope. Somewhere down the line, we’ll meet again, we’ll be together.
“When summer passes, and you ask, ‘What mattered most?’ I will say,
Sweet basil on tomatoes plucked fresh off the vine. Roses, scented heavy with perfume, fairy children chasing fireflies at dusk, each whispered story a tapestry of wonder and joy. The constant presence of the stars at night and you.”
“You. My North Star.”
I will listen
Stand with me
I’ll hold your hand
heal the world