Huckleberry Ripples: A Calming Cordial
Picture yourself as a pebble, dropped into the cosmic pool of your world and community. Your waves radiate outwards. What do they carry? What are you spreading? How do you hope your impact will travel? We don’t exist in a vacuum. We ourselves are rocked by the ripples spread by others as well, a big tip from the stay-at-home mom whose sister took her kids for the day so she could relax. An angry customer whose wife is leaving him and he’s taking that pain out on the salesperson. Two different kinds of ripples, undoubtedly coming from even further away. The sister’s generous act could be because someone recognized her work and made her feel appreciated and important, sparking her action. The unhappy wife may be feeling too limited by her life as a housewife, the societal expectation for women of her generation, fed to her by an older relative. Pain can wash to us from anywhere. But so can love. And those ripples are felt more strongly and seem to travel greater distances. Once you find your way to the extraordinary pebble whose waves of kindness crossed oceans, you’ve found a very special person indeed.
I have had the honor of knowing many people who left a lasting splash in their communities. From Mrs G “The Pie Lady” who made incredible pies and donated them to charity in my hamlet of a hometown, to Darcy, the herbalist I studied from who always left the store unlocked in case someone had an emergency, I have felt the waves of many generous people. I’ve also noticed something about those people, too: they have a safety net of gratitude. I watched my community come together to support Darcy in a time of grief. I noticed the little ways Mrs. G was taken care of as she got older - chopped and split firewood would appear overnight, her lawn miraculously never seemed to need mowing, and I know my family was not the only family to give some of our precious huckleberries to her, knowing that she would use them for good in one of her famous huckleberry pies. From observing these two kind-hearted role models, I learned something important: nobody starves from generosity.
As you probably know if you are reading this, a large part of my art practice is throwing free surprise events for strangers. These gatherings always have a purpose - whether it’s self-discovery, relaxation, or processing grief. I often hear from others who are concerned that I give too much: “Make sure you fill your own cup first.” I don’t always know how to tell them that doing this IS what fills my cup. Seeing eyes light up with wonder or reading thank you letters makes me feel happy and proud and so, so grateful. I dove into this work with the trust that you can only get from witnessing firsthand that giving freely always comes back, in one way or another. Even though Mrs. G is gone from this world now, I still think of her, teary-eyed, as I pick huckleberries, and smile at her memory. Even though I live too far from Darcy to see her more than once or twice a year, everytime I strain an infusion I picture her quiet smile, always observing. Many others have touched my life, too - teachers, family, mentors, the list is too long to mention. But the ones I still think of daily are the ones that really left a splash, and they have no idea just how far their ripples have spread.
What kind of ripples do you want to send? Can you see how a pie, or a meal, or a cup of huckleberries can spread so much further than you’d ever expect? Even the smallest acts of kindness can illuminate the world around us with their glowing waves. I can almost see them sometimes, golden ripples passed through hugs or handshakes, memories that wash across our focus, little acts of kindness that have traveled very far to get here.
Huckleberry and passionflower cordial
This cordial recipe is perfect for sharing. I’ve combined the mountain sweetness of juicy huckleberries with a subtle herbal note of passionflowers, which give the cordial a calming effect. It’s a wonderful evening sip to sink into a state of pleasure and relaxation. It’s the perfect gift for someone who’s had a rough day - your company, and this delightful brew.
*Since passionflower has sedative properties, don’t take it if you are on any other sedative medications. Talk to your doctor before consuming to make sure you won’t have any medication reactions. Pregnant and breastfeeding people shouldn’t drink this cordial.
2 c. vodka
1 c. huckleberries
2 c. water
2 Tbs. passionflower, dried
2 c. sugar
1 c. huckleberries (frozen is fine.)
Pour the huckleberries into a clean glass jar and top with the vodka. Allow to infuse for 3 weeks, then strain.
Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the dried passionflower. Steep for 20 minutes, then strain.
Put the passionflower tea into a small saucepan and add the sugar and huckleberries. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until all of the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for another 20 minutes, then allow to cool to room temperature. Strain.
Combine the infused vodka with the syrup and mix well.
This drink is meant to be sipped from small cordial glasses and savored. 1 or 2 oz will have you feeling gently restful.
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