One day last October, though I was deep in my Italian city routine, my hands smelt of lavender. I was making sachets from the flowers I’d harvested in France over the previous summer. I was missing Burgundy, the country, the simplicity; I needed to remember and re-live. And working with the pungent husks met my needs. Perfume sets the brain’s wheels in motion like a well-fueled time machine.
This morning, coffee cup in hand, I gave the tiny garden it’s ritual once-over, surveying it for any changes during the night. I realized that the lavender is once again ready for harvesting. It’s well past its floral prime. The bees are hard-pressed to find pollen. And the brilliant violet has faded in most cases to a lovely mauve-gray. The stems bow down, tired of carrying their weight. It’s time.
It’s a simple task. I trim them back with scissors, removing the flower-bearing stalks from the rosemary-like plant. Then I bundle them, trim them, and hang them upside-down for further drying. Before the summer ends, I’ll hold them in my hands, pinch the desiccated blossom, and rubbing against the grain, remove the husks from the stem onto a linen cloth. I will carry this aromatic bundle back to Milan with me and repeat last year’s ritual on a day when I’d rather be here than there. These repeated tasks become sacraments—moments full of meaning and grace. And this is a good thing.