I just counted 22 jars full of various kinds of dried mint leaves in my kitchen. These are old canning jars—big blue glass ones with screw tops, smaller ones with those wire thingies to keep the top on. Some are brands I never heard of: Atlas, Lightning, Telephone. They make me think of little old grandmothers of yore putting food by, keeping their loved ones fed through the long winter.
I am proud of my canning jars filled with mint. I think they look neat, all lined up in the dry sink I inherited from my mother in law. The thing is, what am I going to do with all that mint? There is spearmint, and apple mint, orange mint and lemon balm. A lot of it will go into winter teas…but how much tea can two people drink?
Why do I have so much dried mint, you ask? The answer is: lack of self control. In the summer, when it grew thick and fragrant all around the back of the house, I liked nothing better than to pick great armfuls of it and bring it into the kitchen, tie it in bunches and hang it from the curtain rods in the dining room, where it looked kind of magical and medieval and so much more interesting than curtains. And every time I rounded the corner on my way upstairs, I would get a sharp whiff of apple, or orange, or whatever.
“This,” I would say to myself, bringing in yet another day\’s harvest, “will be fabulous in winter.”
And now here it is, winter. The chimney sweep visited us today and tomorrow evening I will light the first fire of the season in the wood stove. Snow flurries are forecast. Christmas is galloping towards us. Time to do something with the mint.
But my dry sink holds more than jars of mint. There are small jars of oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme. There are big jars of lavender, rose petals, chamomile flowers and even dried orange peels. The latter are supposedly a good fixative for potpourri, and with the lavender and rose and mint I could keep my family and friends in good smells until next summer.
Thing is, potpourri is supposed to “ripen” for a couple of months, and here it is, a mere 25 days until Christmas. Yet again (this happens every year) my loved ones are going to get unripe potpourri. I feel the holiday angst rising up within me. Where has the summer joy gone?
I\’d better make a cup of chamomile tea, and then I\’d better get to work.