The road to Annagassan along Maine Way has all the herbs and plants I need for my teas and potions for the year. In March and April I pick nettles, haw buds and blackthorn blossom. Come May the hawthorn, sometimes called the Fairy tree or Maybush is covered with creamy pink scented flowers. I gather them. I pluck pink wild roses, they look bridal sprinkled over elderflower when I have them drying in a baking dish at home in the kitchen. Meadowsweet stands as high as horsetail, they are harvested in July.
September bears blackberries for crumbles or frozen for porridge in the morning. October and November when the year is ending give me red rose hips and haws which I share with the birds.
If I’m to be alone I hope to be able to divide my time between Dublin and Annagassan in Louth.
Last week I went picking nettles for the first time this year through the grounds of UCD. I set out for my walk with a neatly folded plastic bag tucked down into the back pocket of my denims. The blackthorn was in blossom. The hawthorn had a lace covering of fresh new leaves. I picked a few sprigs. It was cold. I was wearing my black sheepskin gloves.
There weren’t many souls as I wandered around the track through the woodland hoping to cut across to the secret walled garden. I wanted to see the pale pink magnolia buds. I never got there. I came across clumps of nettles. I stopped and picked with my strong gloves which were protective against the sting. I filled my supermarket bag.
I set off home along the path. I met a gang of three young women walking shoulder to shoulder. I was tempted to call out, ‘Can you not social distance?’ I kept my trap shut. I distanced myself from them as I made my way to Centra to buy the milk I had promised to get for the husband.
The three were behind me in the checkout queue. One of them was making her way into my space. ‘Could you keep your distance,’ I snarled with a face that could have a cut cold iron.
Nettles dried on my windowsill for the week. I’ve had nettle tea most days. I made Swedish nettle soup with beef broth from my freezer. What makes it Swedish is a hard boiled egg and the recipe also suggested adding smoked salmon as a garnish.
When I told the daughter she looked doubtful. ‘It was delicious with the egg,’ I said. The husband wasn’t a taker either. I had it all to myself.
I could eat nettle soup and be comforted every spring if I had to be alone. I could sit by the Aga in the kitchen in Annagssan or by the fire in Dublin. If I can do that every year for as long as I have left I’ll be very happy.
Hopefully I’ll start a blog to store my musings on nature, travel, food and memories.