Sometimes tectonic plates shift in the ether. Sometimes celestial orbs of fire, great, hot and inhospitable, align in deep space. We call them stars. It begins, in this story, on a country rode somewhere outside of Albany, where the honeysuckle that’s already bloomed and fallen in the south still weaves alongside the road. A week later—a week of snap peas in the garden, airports, 1000 photos, rolling pastry crust, the varied terrain of faces you love, days without sleep, a backyard dinner all Marrakech meets Nashville, and so much work and all of it good—they complete their slow trajectory. The angles are perfect and so perfect. A great softness descends. You give the universe what it’s asked of you for a long time, what you’ve suffered for not giving. And the moment you do it gives you validation. And you know it doesn’t always work this way, and you’re just grateful that just this once it did. It feels like death, the best kind. And then, for a moment that hangs suspended in the air you have electricity, mostly white with shocks of blue, running through your veins instead of slow, warm blood. Your skin shudders and sloughs off. And you experience that delicious faith, amor fati.The pain and frustration and wildflowers all the same—you love them. It can happen somewhere nowhere on I-75 while Dolly sings Jolene. Eternal return.
These great moments happen in the slow moments. In the moments where I find time, despite a marathon of work, to stop by the road for five minutes and clip an armful of honeysuckle. Find time to pluck each bud (it’s tedious but smells wonderful at the very least) with a cup of Earl Grey because I have a thing for bergamot, even though I can never pronounce it correctly. Then, after dinner, laying in bed, I remember that I’ve left the buds, painstakingly gathered, laying on an Edwardian napkin to wilt. So I tiptoe downstairs, boil two cups sugar with two cups water and slice two lemons in the mean time. One handful of flowers, about a cup I reckon, goes into one jar, another cup in the next. I squeeze the lemon over the flowers, one lemon for each jar. When the syrup comes to a boil, I pour it over the flowers, half in each jar. I give them a stir, cover them, and let them sit out on the counter through the night and on into late morning. Around noon the next day I strain it and find time to make some lemonade for myself and my friends Tara & Percy, a.k.a. the Jersey Ice Cream Co., while we work. It’s simple. And it’s good. You can find the codified recipe for honeysuckle syrup here. But the above instructions will work just fine, and can be made half asleep in the middle of the night, as is evidenced here.
My birthdays are coming up, I turn 31 on the 2nd of July and will be 3 years sober on the 12th. I had an auspicious week. A week where I let go. And this next year will be about quiet creation and small dinners with friends. About seeing how, no matter how insane the external circumstance, the problem and solution ultimately lie in me. My reactions are the only place pain and stress can occur. They are in me, not in the world. I live in light when I choose to. I live in darkness when I choose to. It’s not always an easy choice; it’s easy to get married to the dark. To feel like the dark is just. To feel, in the end, like a victim—be it of an irritating red light or an unhealthy person. But from the little aggravations to the stomach knotting troubles, peace is always in me to find. This year will be serene. Because I choose serenity. Here’s a song for you that makes me feel that.
A few things…if you’ve missed out on passed workshops I have a couple coming up. In July I’ll be teaching photography in upstate New York at Cook n Scribble’s Food Media Boot Camp
. Tickets are on sale now.
And if you live on the other side of the world, in case you missed the post announcing it, I’ve teamed up with Luisa Brimble and Rebekka Seale to teach two Slow Living workshops, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne. We’ll be exploring creating content through food, florals, photography, and textiles. You can find tickets here.
A warning: Do your homework before foraging! There are over 180 varieties of Honeysuckle in the world, and some, mostly found in Europe, can be toxic to humans. The varieties found in the North East and South East of the United States are largely edible. I only use the flowers for infusion. But they could be dried for tea as well.
- 1 cup lemon juice, 5-6 lemons
- 1-1.5 cups honeysuckle syrup
- 4-5 cups water, to taste
- handful of fresh mint or basil for muddling (optional)
- In a glass pitcher mix the lemon, syrup, and water. If you like it less tart, add the 5th cup of water. I don't. If you like it sweeter, add more syrup. I like just one cup. Lightly muddle the herbs, if using, in the bottom of the pitcher with a wooden spoon. Add plenty of ice and serve.