Sitting outside and looking at the blossoms on the rose bushes growing in our backyard, my older daughter remarked, “I wish the bushes had those flowers all year.” It is interesting to see how my inability to enjoy moments without lamenting their fleeting nature has been passed down. I walk around my garden, thinking of how I wish my purple mustards would hold off from seeding for another month at the same time I beg the tomatoes to get color. It clarifies how it is not that I do not appreciate moments, but rather I am greedy for all of the peak moments. I get nothing from the low moments. Like little R, I want the roses blooming, the purple mustards edible without cooking, and the tomatoes soft, red and warm from dangling in the sun all day – and just like little R, I want all of those things all year long.
But I know this is not reality. Seasons are reality. Lilacs to roses to jasmine to the red maple to bare branches is reality, but I am a greedy child in an adult’s body.
It is with the greediness that I grabbed a basket and, with little R, I snipped all the roses from the bushes and bring them inside. After I had all the roses inside, I wondered what my greediness did to me. Granted, they’d eventually wilt and fall to the dirt, but now I had over a gallon of roses inside. Like I said, greedy. We put the perfect ones in a vase in the window. With the remaining, I looked to uses for backyard flowers earlier this Spring.
You see, the new car smell has not worn off this “having a yard” thing. When you live for over a decade in places where your flower options are potted flowers grown in full shade, once the limitation is lifted, things get weird. See my obsession with our lilac bush (or now bushes – yes, we got another) for an example. This year, I dried the flowers, made it into tea and then into kombucha. Next, our backyard chamomile got the dry to tea to kombucha treatment. Most of the Spring mornings were spent drinking tea and kombucha from the left over dried flowers from our yard. I made kombucha cocktails and vinaigrette, but my favorite use was chamomile kombucha poured over carrots and butter and they finished glazing inspired by David Posey’s kombucha glazed ribs.
As a warning, most kombucha folks will warn against using flowers in kombucha. Apparently the oils can cause rancidity. I tasted none of it. I drank or used all of mine in a matter of a week. If I get a rancid batch, I’ll just toss it, but I have not yet.
The thing about these roses is how I had so many, I’d be drinking more rose tea and kombucha than I cared for, so I split them three ways. I dumped equal parts by volume into a quart of rice vinegar and a quart of vodka. After a week in each, I drained the liquid from each. The vinegar takes the floral flavors in a more serious way, but the rose liquor has a nice softness. The remainder was dried. The dried petals reduced greatly in size and darkened significantly. The tea made from them was not the deep red of the liquor and vinegar however, but rather a shade darker than pink. The flavors of the tea and kombucha.
Late summer might bring wood sorrel greediness or star jasmine greediness or something I do not know will pop up greediness. Hopefully teaching the little one about the seasons, about appreciating their brevity, might stick with me. If nothing else this summer has taught me that enjoying them might mean seeing some of them hit the dirt. Hopefully I’ll learn I don’t need to grab them all and use them to enjoy them.
Backyard Flower Kombucha
1 cup dried flower petals
1 black tea bag
1/2 cup white sugar
2 quarts water
1 cup unflavored kombucha
Step one: In a large jar, combine tea and sugar. Heat water and pour over tea and sugar.
Step two: When mixture is completely cool, add kombucha and scoby.
Step three: Let mixture ferment for 7-10 days.
Step four: Bottle and drink.