The local patron was on recently for the parish where my parents-in-law are buried. Every year at the start of the summer, families of those buried there, gather together for Mass and the blessing of the graves. People get together ad catch up. They may not have seen each other for months or even since this time last year. Every year Mr. Fairweather and the rest of his family gather back at the family home for a cup of tea and something to eat afterwards. It’s a lovely lazy day and gallons of tea can be consumed. Somehow, the food keeps flowing. And somehow, room is found in stomachs for more.
This year was much the same, if a little quieter as a cup of tea competed with the Euros matches. The Little Paddler was keen to be out and about and I found myself wandering outside in the garden with her. We would stop and smell the flowers, look at the honeybees (any flying insect is currently a honeybee and any creepy crawly is an ant) and listen to the cows in the field. We shook seed heads from the poppies and collected their seeds and buried our noses in to every rose bush we could find.
That which God said to the rose,
and caused it to laugh in full-blown beauty,
He said to my heart,
and made it a hundred times more beautiful. – Rumi
And there were lots. My mother-in-law loved roses. Her daughter-in-law has kept them and even planted a few more. A neighbour and friend comes in once a year to help her prune them but apart from that she tells me they are little or no trouble. I dream of having a rose garden one day myself. But I have always felt too daunted by them. Surely they were fussy plants; prone to disease and pests? And really would the delicate looking flowers stand up to the Irish weather? Hers look great. If I could find a spot and clear it of weeds and stake it out as my own patch, I might just try them.
But for now, I content myself with snipping the occasional flowers from her rose bushes and plonking them in to a vase on my kitchen table. I am only picking ones that smell delicious. I am not in to roses that are bred just to be pretty. I need the scent to fill the room. They looked great for about a week but then started to droop a bit. They looked so sad and forlorn. How to make their scent last for longer? I decided to experiment.
I picked all the petals off and scattered them on a baking tray and put this in to a cold oven. I then turned the temperature up to 80C and slowly cooked them for about an hour or so until they had dried out. I turned the oven off and opened it up to inspect them, move them around a bit so they didn’t all stick and then put them back in to the oven until everything had cooled.
The place smelled fantastic. Mr. Fairweather thinks I have lost the plot. I popped them in to small jars and deposited them around the house. Even the bathroom is benefitting! They have lasted a couple of weeks already. I know they probably won’t last nearly as long as store bought pot-pourri but that’s ok by me. It’s enough for now.