Saturday, August 05, 2006

Pilfered Roses

Although I went looking for flax yesterday, I didn't find any. However, I learned many interesting things about it at two websites.

Paghat's article on blue flax includes a gorgeous photograph
while her article on the scarlet flax
mentions that flax was sacred to both Ra, the Egyptian Sun-God and Isis. And that while
scarlet flax was a symbol for male virility and female fertility, blue flax represents "sacred

Chelsie VandaVeer also has wonderful articles on flax including "How Did Flax Preserve History?"
and "How Did Flax Revolutionize Clothing?"
which describes the very interesting process (wet-retting) by which flax fibers are extracted from the plant to be used in making linen. Another article, "What is Lint?" discusses the various names for flax and the derivation of the word lint (from the same root as linen):

Meanwhile I wanted to let you know about my rose adventure. I asked my Summer Online class to adopt a plant ally and I adopted the rose. Then I realized that I don't own a rose. Which made it difficult to obtain unsprayed rose petals. I realized I could order them from a herb company, including my friends at Ravencroft Gardens (they offer rosa rugosa petals)
but that would take a while to get and I was impatient. So I went out and bought a rose, at my local garden store, City Peoples, but most of its petals fell off in the transition between the garden store and my garden.

Then one day while walking Pepe, my grand-dog, I noticed a lovely red rose blooming behind the fence that encircles the lot on my block where once stood the green house which burnt down last year. The house was razed about six months after the fire and the basement filled in with dirt, then a big chain link fence was put up around the perimeter and the lot has been vacant ever since. There's a lovely rose plant with deep red, fragrant roses that is blooming valiantly right inside the fence. I tried to pick the ripe and ready rose petals by sticking my arm through the chain links but couldn't reach the most luscious blooms. So today I enlisted the aid of my daughter, who is always willing to break the law. After also being baffled by the constraints of the space in the chain links, she went up and over the fence and filled a cup full with rose petals for me. Then she found a break in the fence so she could get out easily and I will be able to get in more easily the next time I need roses.

I came home and made a rose simple syrup (1 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and about a 1/2 cup rose petals (with the white cut out) boiled together, then left to sit for about a half hour). It's not as fragrant or as strong as the lavender simple syrup I've been enjoying but it's an exquisite color and it has a faint flavor of rose. I think I will wait a few days, gather more roses, and try again, using double the roses this time.

Last weekend I was in Victoria, British Columbia, with my niece (it was her first trip out of the country) and we went looking for rose-flavored Turkish Delight which we found at a British Candy Shop on Yates Street. Apparently we are not the only Americans to go seeking Turkish Delight after watching Chronicles of Narnia (I haven't seen the movie--just read the books). This article describes the jump in popularity and provides a recipe:
But we are unusual in that we both loved the rose-flavored version (we also bought the lemon-flavored kind but it was no more interesting than a lemon drop). According to Susan Reilly in this article "Turkish Delight Sales Jump After Chronicles of Narnia," sales have increased but most Americans find the rose flavor too subtle or floral for their tastes. I'm with Edmund, however, in thinking that it's one of the most delicious candies I've ever tasted (although I did find the sweetness and gooiness (it's like a squishy gumdrop) rather disconcerting).

Off to look for some almond oil...


Anonymous said...

my daughter, who is always willing to break the law

Perhaps you shouldn't be telling that tale on her.

meggins from LJ

Beth said...

Waverly, as always since I first took School of the Seasons back in the 90's, you remain a major inspiration for me. I propose this: Waverly, Goddess of All Seasons. Thanks for your hard work, and all of your seasonal writings.
Beth Atwood, fellow blogger and NWesterner.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your references to Flax, which is a favorite of mine. I lived for several years in Central Pennsylvania where there did not seem to be any remnents of local spinning or weaving. However, my Pennsylvania Dutch friends always referred to *retting up* a place when referring to getting things picked up and organizsd. *This room really needs retting up.* would be the phrase, where folks would also say *The baby needs bathed.* Given the mechanics of the retting process, the laying of the long flax stems on the ground, keeping them wet, and then gathering them up. I have had many rooms that needed to be gathered/retted up, with just that motion. Thanks for bringing back that memory. Now I need to go and ret up. :-) Rachel in San Diego

Waverly Fitzgerald said...

Meggins, I think my daughter will be OK with that description but I'll check with her.

Beth, thanks for the nomination. I'm happy with the title of "Calendar Priestess" but I'll have to consider this: "Goddess of the Seasons," it has a nice ring.

And it's lovely to hear that retting can be a verb.