Tag Archives: William Shakespeare

Herbs and Romance for Valentine’s Day

“There’s a few things I’ve learned in life: always throw salt over your left shoulder, keep rosemary by your garden gate, plant lavender for good luck, and fall in love whenever you can.” ~Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

“My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse.” ~Thomas Cavendish, 1532.

 “Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he’ll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he’ll wed me.” ~Danaher, 1756


“There’s rosemary and rue. These keep Seeming and savor all the winter long. Grace and remembrance be to you.”- William Shakespeare

Thyme Creeping Red

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,  Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

dill with white aster and other herbs and flowers in our garden(Dill in our garden by Daughter Elise)

 When daisies pied and violets blue And lady-smocks all silver-white  And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue. Do paint the meadows with delight.

Love’s Labours Lost

lavender 3

“And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound to lurk admist the labours of her loom, and crown her kerchiefs witl mickle rare perfume.”

~William Shenstone The School Mistress 1742

herb garden
“Those herbs which perfume the air most delightfully,  not passed by as the rest, but, being trodden upon and crushed, are three;  that is, burnet, wild thyme and watermints. Therefore, you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread.” –  Frances Bacon 

“How could such sweet and wholesome hours Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?” –  Andrew Marvel

A Lovely Summer Day in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia–Beth Trissel

lavender in the garden

(Lavender, dill, and cosmos in the garden–image by daughter Elise)

“To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.”  ~Jane Austen

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”  ~John Muir

I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.  ~Henry David Thoreau

lovely pool of water

A tranquil pool of water back in the country–image by Elise

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”  ~Helen Keller

white kitten in garden“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”  ~e.e. cummings

“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”  ~John Keats

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”  ~William Shakespeare

(Kitten in our garden. Image by Elise)

“Joy all creatures drink
At nature’s bosoms…”
~Friedrich von Schiller, “Ode to Joy,” 1785, translated from German

“To one who has been long in city pent,
‘Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven, – to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.”
~John Keats, Sonnet XIV

hyssop in the garden“I know the thrill of the grasses when the rain pours over them.
I know the trembling of the leaves when the winds sweep through them.
I know what the white clover felt as it held a drop of dew pressed close in its beauteousness.
I know the quivering of the fragrant petals at the touch of the pollen-legged bees.
I know what the stream said to the dipping willows, and what the moon said to the sweet lavender.
I know what the stars said when they came stealthily down and crept fondly into the tops of the trees.”
~Muriel Strode, “Creation Songs

“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”  ~Rachel Carson

(hyssop in our garden–image by Elise)

“The garden is the poor man’s apothecary.” ~German Proverb–Beth Trissel

herb garden“A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine.” –Henry David Thoreau. 

“All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the challenge of science is to find it.” ~ Paracelsus (Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim) (1493-1541)

“What can kill , can cure.”

“Yesterday I had peas and pot herbs, today pot herbs and peas; tomorrow I shall eat peas with my pot herbs and the day after pot herbs with my peas.” ~Benedictine Monk, 1053.

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.)

herbal arrangement

“Garlic is as good as ten mothers.”
~Traditional European Saying

“Eat leeks in oile and ramsines in May,

And all the year after physicians may play.” (Ramsines were old-fashioned broad-leafed leeks.)

“The leaves and floures of Borrage put into wine  make men and women glad and merry, driving away all sadnesse, dulnesse, and melancholy, as Dioscorides and Pliny affirme.  Syrrup made of the floures of Borrage comforteth the heart, purgeth melancholy, and quieteth the phrenticke or lunaticke person.”
~John Gerard, The Herball, or General Historie of Plantes. 1597

herb garden with parsley“The revival interest in herbal medicine is a worldwide phenomenon.”
~Mark Blumenthal, Executive Director of the American Botanical Council

“Oh, the powers of nature! She knows what we need, and the doctors know nothing.” ~Benvenuto Cellini

“Botany and medicine came down the ages hand in hand until the seventeenth century; then both arts became scientific, their ways parted, and no new herbals were compiled.  The botanical books ignored the medicinal properties of plants and the medical books contained no plant lore.” ~Hilda Leyel   

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.” ~Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac

“Time is an herb that cures all Diseases.”
~Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790,  Poor Richard’s Almanac 

“Eat an apple going to bed , make the doctor beg his bread.”

“What is Paradise? But a Garden, an Orchard of Trees and Herbs, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights.” ~William Lawson, 1618.

“With the growing recognition of the value of herbs, it is surely time to examine the professional therapeutic use of these herbs. There are profound changes happening in the American culture and herbal medicine, ‘green medicine,’ is playing an ever-increasing role in people’s experience of this transformation.”   
~David Hoffman, past President of the American Herbalist Guild

“The olive tree is surely the richest gift of Heaven.
I can scarcely expect bread.” ~Thomas Jefferson

“I borage, give courage.”

“He would live for aye, must eat sage in May.”

“Gardening with herbs, which is becoming increasingly popular, is indulged in by those who like subtlety in their plants in preference to brilliance.”~Helen Morgenthau Fox 

May in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia–Beth Trissel

COVER FOR SHENANDOAH WATERCOLORS NONFICTION BOOKThis excerpt is from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, a 2012 Epic eBook Finalist, available from Amazon in kindle, and now paperback with lovely photographs taken by my talented family.


“The quality of mercy is not strained,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven,

Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”

~William Shakespeare

the meadow and woods above our farmThe heavy rain has given way to a misting drizzle, but streams of water pour down from the hills and make new ponds and creeks. It’s chilly with that raw wet feel. This spring is awash in moisture and amazing after last summer’s searing drought. I’m struck by the intense beauty around me, and I thought I was already seeing it, but it’s so much more somehow. The grass seems to shimmer, yet there’s no sun out today, and the meadow is so richly green it’s like seeing heaven.

Our barnyard geese are enraptured, as much as geese can be, with all the grass. If there’s a lovelier place to revel in spring than the Shenandoah Valley and the mountains, I don’t know it. Narnia, maybe.

Dark hollow falls on Skyline drive, Shenandoah national parkI’ve been thinking about my favorite places. The pool I like best lies in the woods near a place called Rip Rap Hollow in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A splendid falls cascades up above, but I like the pool far more. We always meant to go back, but never have. The cold water ripped through me like liquid ice and is as clear as melted crystal.

I could see the rocks on the bottom, some slick with moss, others brown-gold in the light where the sun broke through the leafy canopy overhead. Trout hid beneath big rounded stones or ones that formed a cleft, but the men tickled them out to flash over the flat rocks strewn across the bottom like a path. Drifts of hay-scented fern rose around the edges of the pool, warming the air with the fragrance of new mown hay, and made the shady places a rich green.

Now, that’s a good place to go in my mind when I’m troubled. The problem with cities is that people don’t learn what really matters. Don’t really feel or know the rhythms of the earth. When we are separated from that vital center place, we grow lost. Sadly, most people will never know what they are lost from, or where they can be found.~

moms-kitten-gosling-pic***Goose update. We spotted four new goslings yesterday.

*Images of the meadow and wooded hills above our farm taken by daughter Elise, Dark Hollow Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a royalty free image, Kitten and baby goose taken by my mom, Pat Churchman


When Bad Things Happen to Good People–Beth Trissel

trees flowering in our yard“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.” ~Colette

“The sorrow which has no vent in tears may make other organs weep.”  ~Henry Maudsley

(Blooming trees and new leaves in our yard)

Dove, Bird, Flying, White, Spirituality, Symbols Of Peace, Wing,Yesterday, my sister-in-law Catarina (my husband’s brother’s wife) an indomitable woman I’ve known since I was a teenager and always thought would live to be 100,  passed away suddenly from a ruptured aneurysm in her brain. The surgery performed to prevent this fatal outcome (involving a stint) was pronounced a triumph, but something went terribly wrong not many hours after.  We do not yet know why and await word from the autopsy. But for whatever reason, she’s taken from her loved ones and is in heaven now. It’s those left behind who suffer and deeply mourn her loss.

I feel especially sad for her grandbabies and the many children this motherly woman has cared for over the years in her home and her ministries with the little ones at our church.  Being a pensive soul, I’ve found some good quotes and books that may offer comfort in a hurting world. This has been an especially horrific week in America with the bombs at the Boston Marathon and explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas.

Old Church 101“Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader” (A book quote from Amazon)

“Even hundredfold grief is divisible by love.” ~Terri Guillemets

“Grieving is a necessary passage and a difficult transition to finally letting go of sorrow – it is not a permanent rest stop.”  ~Dodinsky, www.dodinsky.com

“Many suffering people want to love God, but cannot see past their tears, says Philip Yancey. They feel hurt and betrayed. Sadly, the church often responds with more confusion than comfort. This current edition of what is perhaps Yancey’s best-known book should speak to anyone for whom life sometimes just doesn’t make sense. And it should help equip anyone who wants to reach out to someone in pain but just doesn’t know what to say.” (From Amazon)
Phillip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace, is also a wonderfully uplifting book.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.  ~From a headstone in Ireland
“While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.”  ~John Taylor

Angel, Cemetery, Statue, Tombstone, Cherub, Child, Stone, Grave, Praying, Church“Sorrow you can hold, however desolating, if nobody speaks to you.  If they speak, you break down.”  ~Bede Jarrett

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.  ~William Shakespeare

Sorrow makes us all children again — destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Images of: *Dove of the Holy Spirit *Stained glass windows in Episcopalian Church in Staunton, VA, *Ancient Mosaic of Jesus Christ in church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey *Angel Cherub Cemetery Statue

Sweet Saturday Snippet from Murder Mystery Ghost Story Romance Somewhere My Love–Beth Trissel


Excerpt from Chapter Ten

Julia huddled in a chair looking strained and vulnerable.  She bore an unsettling resemblance to Ophelia, almost as if Shakespeare had written the lines with her in mind. If only Will could have five minutes alone with her.  He’d sooth her troubled spirit, he was sure, but they hadn’t had five minutes…

His grandmother tapped her cane, her eyes  bright. She wasn’t concerned about Julia, or anyone else for that matter. Nothing and no one was paramount to her except this play, and she was single-minded about getting it off the ground. She cleared her throat. “All right, folks. Let’s begin,” she said in an unusually strong voice. “Thank you for taking part in this momentous occasion.”

A polite round of applause followed, and she paused to nod graciously before continuing. “For those of you new to the play, I will give you the setting.” Here, the old lady came into her own, bent forward, her tone filled with mystery. “Imagine if you will the handsome young prince Hamlet. His  beloved father is dead and Hamlet’s grief is black. Rather than opening with the funeral, though, we shall commence with the haunting.”

Anyone in the assembly unaware of a ghostly presence in the play perked up with interest. And everyone seemed more attentive, despite themselves, as the story teller wove on.  “We shall have props later, but for now, envision this hall as a dark medieval castle in Denmark at the dead of night. Hamlet has heard his father’s spirit roams the battlement at this haunted hour. He  and his friends are there watching for the royal specter. We will make do with one friend until I can recruit others.” She swept her hand at Will and one of the gardeners. “William, Dave, center stage.”

Will knew his lines but Dave, whom his grandmother had pressed into playing Horatio, held a dog-eared script in his callused hand. He bent his red neck over the pages and squinted. “Which is me, Mrs. Wentworth?”

“I’ve marked your part,” she told him. “And we’ve abbreviated the lines, a sort of condensed version.”

Shakespeare would turn in his grave at the butchering she’d done to his work, but there was nothing for it other than to enter into the spirit of the evening. Will strode to the middle of the hall, his mind only half on the play. He was suited for the part of Hamlet, though, feeling brooding enough. He glanced around as if seeing only dark battlements and rubbed his hands together, blowing on them. “‘The air bites shrewdly. It is very cold.’”

Dave nodded, his head ringed with the hat hair effect left from his gardening cap. He rubbed a grizzled chin with thick fingers, stumbling as he spoke in his Southern twang. “‘It is a nipping and an eager air.’” He paused. “What does that mean?”

“He agrees with Hamlet that it’s cold,” Will explained. “My line. ‘What hour now?’”

Dave glanced at his wrist as though that would enhance the scene. “‘I think it lacks of twelve,’” he drawled.

Will shook his head at him. “No watches then, Dave.”

Their director interrupted at this point. “Let’s get on to the ghost,” Queen Nora said in her erratic manner.

Dave adopted a bug-eyed expression Will supposed was intended to mime fear and pointed shakily. “‘Look, my lord, it comes.’”

Will raised his eyes to the second floor landing where Joe, the other gardener, stood beckoning to him with white fingers. The lime dust powdering him from an application to the lawn lent some credibility to his ghostly effort, but not a lot. Will pressed his fist to his mouth, partly to keep from laughing, and then dropped his hand so as not to muffle the words.

“‘Angels and ministers of grace defend us…be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn’d, bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell. Thou  comes in such a questionable shape. I’ll call thee Hamlet, King, father. What may this mean that thou should revisit us?’”

Dave grabbed his sleeve. “‘It beckons you to go  away with it, but do not go.’”

A nice touch, Will conceded. He shook Dave off. “‘It will not speak, then I will follow it,’” he said, and left Dave to dash up the stairs.

His grandmother called out, “Skip ahead to the parts I specified!”

Will stumbled as Joe lunged at him, more in an attack mode than as a fearsome specter, and gripped his shoulders. “‘I am thy father’s spirit doomed for a certain term to walk the night and for the day confined to fast in fires,’” Joe declared in his gravelly bass voice.

Will recited his part automatically, his chief concern escaping this ape-man unscathed. Joe was a hard worker, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Moaning as though he were portraying Jacob Marley, Joe gave Will a teeth-rattling jar. “‘If thou didst ever thy dear father love—’”

“‘Oh, God,’” Will said, both as Hamlet and himself.

“‘Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder,’” Joe demanded.

“‘Murder?’” Will echoed.

Jon tightened his hold. Surely, he was the most hell-bent ghostly king any actor had ever portrayed. “‘Now, Hamlet, hear me,’” he growled, like a hit man about to eliminate him if he didn’t take heed. “‘Tis given out that sleeping in my orchard a serpent stung me. The serpent that did sting your father’s life now wears his crown.’”

“‘Oh, my prophetic soul—my uncle,’” Will said.

“‘Aye,’” Joe groaned. “‘That incestuous, adulterous beast with witchcraft of his wit and traitorous gifts. While sleeping in my orchard, my custom always in the afternoon, thy uncle stole with juice of cursed hebona in a vial and in the porches of my ears did pour the leprous distilment.’”

Joe clutched him by the throat. Was Hamlet ever so beset upon? With a credible effort at lamentation, Joe roared  in mock agony, “‘If thou hast nature in thee bear it not! Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest. As for thy mother leave her to heaven and to those thorns that in her bosom  lodge to prick and sting her. Fare thee well. Adieu, Adieu. Hamlet, remember me.’”

Joe released Will and he staggered back, gasping for breath. But the prophetic plea coupled with the warning of treachery struck him as significant. He sensed it had to do with Cole. Was  there something more he should do about his distant cousin? Cole had been struck down with a sword. Everyone knew that, didn’t they?

Or was there more to the story? Some crucial aspect left untold?

***Somewhere My Love is available in Kindle at Amazon. And in Nookbook. The novel is also available in print.

***For more authors participating in Sweet Saturday Samples Click HERE.

“Herbs…Perfume the Air Most Delightfully.” ~Frances Bacon

English country garden and gate with flowers“My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse.”

~Thomas Cavendish, 1532.

“Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he’ll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he’ll wed me.” ~Danaher, 1756

lavenderfield-300x199“Lavender is for lovers true, Which evermore be faine; Desiring always for to have Some pleasure for their paine: And when that they obtained have The love that they require, Then have they all their perfect joie, And quenched is the fire.” ~Lavender and Turner (Herbal, 1545)

“There’s rosemary and rue. These keep
Seeming and savor all the winter long.
Grace and remembrance be to you.”
– William Shakespeare

Thyme Creeping RedI know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.
Midsummer Night’s Dream

When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
Love’s Labours Lost

lavender 3“ladies fair, I bring to you
lavender with spikes of blue;
sweeter plant was never found
growing on our English ground.”

~Caryl Battersby

“And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom
shall be, ere-while, in arid bundles bound
to lurk admist the labours of her loom,
and crown her kerchiefs witl mickle rare perfume.”

~William Shenstone The School Mistress 1742

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”
– Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac

herb garden with chair“Those herbs which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the rest, but, being trodden upon and crushed, are three; that is, burnet, wild thyme and watermints.  Therefore, you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread.”
–  Frances Bacon

“How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?”
–  Andrew Marvel

For Lovers (or Potential Lovers) of Herbal Lore–Beth Trissel

herb garden“The intense perfumes of the wild herbs as we trod them underfoot made us feel almost drunk.”  ~Jacqueline du Pre

“More in the garden grows , than the witch knows.”

“Sell your coat and buy betony.”

“No ear hath heard no tongue can tell, The virtue of the pimpernel”

“Treoil , vervain , st. John’s wort dill

Hinder Witches of all their will.”

English country garden flowers and herbs“The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs, with fields of lavender, and with the brightest roses blushing in tufts all over the meadows…” ~William Cullen Bryant

“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun, And with him rises weeping…”~William Shakespeare, 1611.

“Sow fennel , Sow sorrow .”

“And because the Breath of Flowers is farre Sweeter in the Aire (where it comes and Gose, like the Warbling of Musick) than in the hand, therefore nothing is more fit for delight, than to know what be the Flowers and the Plants that doe best perfume the Aire.” ~ Francis Bacon, 1625.

“Plant your sage and rue together,

The sage will grow in any weather .”

“Snakes will not go  Where geraniums grow.”

Formal Garden, Flower Bed, Old Ruin, Gothic Style, Monastery, Abbey,  Church, herbs“My gardens sweet, enclosed with walles strong, embarked with benches to sytt and take my rest. The Knotts so enknotted, it cannot be exprest. With arbours and alys so pleasant and so dulce, the pestylant ayers with flavours to repulse.” ~Thomas Cavendish, 1532.

“Where the yarrow grows , there is one who knows.”

If ye would herbal magic make

Be sure the spell in rhyme be spake.”

herb garden with chairWoe to the lad  without a rowan tree-god.”

“The fair maid who , the first of May

Goes to the fields at break of day

And washes in dew from the hawthorn tree ,

Will ever after handsome be.”

St. John’s wort and cyclamen in your bed-chambers keep , From evil spells and witcheries , To guard you in your sleep .”

“I borage , give courage .”

“Good morrow, good Yarrow, good morrow to thee. Send me this night my true love to see, The clothes that he’ll wear, the colour of his hair. And if he’ll wed me…”  ~Danaher, 1756.

“When daisies pied and violets blue, and lady-smocks all silver white. And Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue, do paint the meadows with delight.” ~William Shakespeare, 1595.

Rowan tree and red-thread

Put the witches to their speed.”

“Much Virtue in Herbs, little in Men.”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Poor Richard’s Almanac

Faerie-Folks , Are in old oaks .”

***I’m teaching an Herbal Lore Workshop, actually, several this year. The first is with Savvy Authors from Mar 11, 2013 – Apr 7, 2013. For more information and to register for the workshop click:  Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs

‘Tis the Season for Rosemary–Beth Trissel

“There’s rosemary that’s for remembrance. Pray, you love, remember.” ~ Hamlet

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, mostly just because. I rarely cook with it, but love its scent and the wealth of history behind it. Known as the herb of remembrance from the time of ancient Greece, it appears in that immoral verse by Shakespeare.  My fascination with herbs plays a significant role in my historical/light paranormal romance novel Somewhere My Love, as does Hamlet, for that matter.  I always wanted to write a murder mystery with a focus on herbs and parallels to a Shakespearean play, and so I did.

A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve, a wonderful source of herbal lore as well as practical information on the medicinal uses and growing requirements for a myriad of plants, is an invaluable guide. I have volumes one and two of Ms. Grieve’s work and can easily lose myself in their pages.  She refers to her herbal as modern, and in comparison to the ancient herbalists it is, but A Modern Herbal is charmingly quaint and published in the early 20th century.

Regarding Rosemary, she says,

The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.

At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, we are told, wore such a wreath at her wedding. A Rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colours, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year‘s gift…

In early times, Rosemary was freely cultivated in kitchen gardens and came to represent the dominant influence of the house mistress ‘Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.’

The Treasury of Botany says:

‘There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other counties, that Rosemary will not grow well unless where the mistress is “master”; and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence of their want of authority.’

Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavour ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration.

“Down with the rosemary and so,

Down with the baies and mistletoe,

Down with the holly, ivie all

Wherewith ye deck the Christmas Hall.”—HERRICK.

Rosemary Christmas TreeRosemary Christmas Trees

Although an herb, rosemary is often shaped into lovely miniature Christmas trees. The plant is well suited for this purpose as its essential oils produce a scent similar to pine trees and it has a natural evergreen shape and needle-like leaves.

If you purchase a rosemary plant whether as a Christmas tree or for your indoor herb garden, remember it needs good light and moderate watering. Allow the soil to dry before re-watering to avoid root rot. The most common cause of death for potted rosemary is over watering. In spring transfer your rosemary to a clay pot. The clay will help wick excess water out of the soil. Fertilize monthly to maintain health. To this advice I add that you can also kill them by allowing the plant to dry out, so don’t do that either.

Because rosemary is native to the hot, dry hills of the Mediterranean, growing it indoors can be a problem. You may find you get more dense vigorous growth if it is kept outside during most of the year. Trim the plant periodically to preserve the Christmas tree shape.

“Hem Your Blessings With Thankfulness So They Don’t Unravel.” –Beth Trissel

“There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.” ~O. Henry 

With a daughter working in retail at a major store, and fellow employees now referring to Thanksgiving as ‘Gray Thursday‘, she and I have pondered what should be–used to be–the focus of America’s time-honored holiday. What does Thanksgiving mean to you? I’ve gathered some fitting quotes and reflections on this historic day.

“O Lord that lends me life, 

Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.” ~William Shakespeare

“On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence.”   ~William Jennings Bryan

“Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.”  ~Native American Saying

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.”  ~Irv Kupcinet

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” ~Henry Van Dyke 

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.” ~Meister Eckhart

 “Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.”  ~E.P. Powell

“Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”  ~Edward Sandford Martin

“He who thanks but with the lips
Thanks but in part;
The full, the true Thanksgiving
Comes from the heart.”
~J.A. Shedd

“Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare.  They are consumed in twelve minutes.  Half-times take twelve minutes.  This is not coincidence.”  ~Erma Bombeck

“None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude.  Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” ~Fred De Witt Van Amburgh 

“Ah! on Thanksgiving day….
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lips and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie?”
~John Greenleaf Whittier

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”  ~Thornton Wilder