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Campfires, Herbs, and Medieval Projects

The wind is howling today, sending leaves and feathers skittering across the farmyard, creating a dance of shadows on the grass as tree branches bend and swoop.

The animals are hunkered down out of the wind, finding calm, sunny spots to snooze the afternoon away.

I’m staying warm under a blanket on the veranda, writing my weekly newspaper column and updating an article on smoking techniques in between dashes to the oven to replace trays of tomatoes and garlic I’m roasting. I marinated a brisket in garlic balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper, and a bit of liquid hickory smoke, and as soon as the tomatoes finished, popped it in the oven to slow roast it for dinner. The house is smelling wonderful.

I’ve been working in my gardens, taking cuttings of my favorite herbs – pineapple sage, spearmint, lemon balm – and putting them in water in tiny glasses all along a sun-drenched windowsill in the kitchen. Most of them have little roots already, and that thrills me to pieces. Soon I’ll transplant them and tuck them into my greenhouse for the winter to grow and strengthen until spring.

Other herbs have made their own starts – tarragon, common mint, and yarrow – and I’ve been dividing them and planting them in new spots so they can grow nice and big.

Yesterday we picked up a few I don’t have yet – German chamomile and lime verbena – and an extra elderflower because, in my opinion, you can never have too much elderflower. Next week I will tuck the first two in my greenhouse and plant the elderflower in my new garden bed where it can spread out into a beautiful hedge that will keep us supplied with flowers and elderberries for many years to come.

Campfires have been our comfort and delight this week. Especially after a big day of medieval projects.

Bear and I have been making, staining, and painting tent poles for our new medieval market stalls. For the past five years we’ve made due with what we had, but every year, without fail, I got sunburn and heatstroke. This year Bear made Sue and I our own shelters in the style of medieval Muslim market stalls we found in an old manuscript. They’re beautifully shady and cool with plenty of room for us to display our wares, do our demonstrations, and talk with people interested in learning about medieval folk medicine, medieval desert tribal food, linen-making, coffee-making, and cheese-making. We’re so excited to get them set up and decorated with the vivid colors favored in the 12th and 13th centuries.

After painting four coats on 28, 8-sided tent poles, dinner by the fire sounds like pure bliss.

Sometimes we just sit and stare quietly into the fire, getting lost in the play of light and heat. Others we visit amiably whilst eating cheeseburgers on homemade buns and watching the sun sink down through the trees.

And one night, when Bear had some writing work to do inside, I had the fire all to myself. I poured a glass of homemade cherry brandy, pulled my chair up close to the warmth of the flames, and let all the stresses of the day melt away.



Our first medieval event of the season is nearly upon us, and we’re so excited. This weekend our Blackwolf friends arrive to pack our trailer with tents and poles, pegs and ropes, rugs and tables, beds and shelves, pots and boxes, chairs and bedding. And plenty of firewood for as many cozy moments around the fire as we can muster. xo

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Deborah Regen - I am glad that your husband is up and about so he must be feeling much better after hurting himself. I am also glad to hear that you will have better protection at these events against sunburn and heat stroke, you really can suffer from either or both. Things are looking up!

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef - Your enormous tent will be filled with so much love and friendship, you’ll have a smile from ear to ear. Enjoy every moment.

Cooking outside while watching the flames is just wonderfully relaxing.

Jackie Smith - What do you suppose it is about watching flames (controlled ones that is, so comforting? Spring is slow in its appearance in our part of Greece this year – snow on the mountains two days ago – so we just may get to have ourselves a few more fires in the fireplace yet!

Anna @ shenANNAgans - I find so much comfort stopping by your blog, your words relax and remind me to take time out and enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like a fire and a glass of something special. Now hows about sharing one of those cheeseburgers with home made buns? ๐Ÿ™‚

budget jan - Sitting by the fire with a glass of something is a luxury – How lucky are you! I’m enjoying the cool weather also.

Cheryl - Sounds just wonderful to end the day doing nothing but sitting by an outdoor fire to ease away all the stresses of the day, so nurturing.

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