Greetings to each of you from the waxing Spring flourishing,
A swiftly-written one from me today, to say hello and to offer my blessings as we lead up to the lusty & liberatory festivals of Floralia and Beltane. In my last missive, I said I would write to you when the nettles have grown a little taller, and indeed they have! The nettles are now ready for harvest and I have been collecting them when I can amongst all the other tending of the season; drinking the fresh tea, making nettle risotto, beginning to dry them for winter use. Spring is brimming with activity; the days feel so much longer than they did even last week and my harvest baskets are full with chickweed, violets, cleavers, dandelion and yellow dock. 
My gaze is directed to next weekend, when we enter the festival days of the Roman goddess of flowers, Flora, from April 28- May 2. Flora arrives in the blossoming time, surrounded by a flowering veil.  Her festival days are a blooming basket that carry us into deep Spring. She is the crux of the mysteries of floral metamorphosis: the transformative death & rebirth of those who are adored by the Gods into flowers and plants, such as Hyakinthos, Krokus, Narcissus and Adonis. Flora is the force that exalts every petal. She brings the bee to the flower. Flora is the patroness of sex workers, those who work and tend the land, flower romancers & florists. She holds the fields and meadows of the Commons in Her good graces. My flower essence work is all held in devotion to Her (Flora even instructed me to craft a formula in her name, many seasons ago), so this is a very important festival for me and my flower work. It is a time where I give offerings to Her and celebrate Her splendor. And of course, it is only fitting that this festival time is aligned with the Celtic festival of Beltane, which also celebrates the Commons, the fertility of the land and liberation. I also love that this time is woven into May Day, International Workers Day, which also shouts: our life's work and blood belong to us! 
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Many years ago, when I started celebrating Beltane/May Day,  I would make a May Wine in the days leading up to the festival. This wine would be brought to community celebrations, offered during the Maypole dance, sipped on to feel into the ecstatic energy of the season, to embody the blossoming time. This wine was inspired by an older recipe that used typical blossoming herbs of Spring. The original recipe included sweet woodruff, strawberries and elderflower. Over the years, my recipe has changed depending on where I live. Now that I am back home in upstate New York, strawberries are still weeks away. I now use what is in abundance near me, which feels right because we are celebrating the land after all. However, I always use sweet woodruff because it has such a lovely vanilla taste and is a traditional herb for Beltane festivities; a charmed plant for opening to the lusty energy of the season. I always have it in my garden now; it is such a beloved springtime plant to me. 
I love making this wine because the process is so simple and includes the flowers, which is what next weekend is all about!  After I start my brew, I am ever excited for the celebrations that are to come and I feel grateful to be in touch with what is blossoming where I live. It is a process that inherently invites enchantment in. I hope you can find some time this week to make your own May Wine, if you'd like. 
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this year's May Wine ingredients: apple blossom, violet flowers, sweet woodruff
to strain and enjoy next weekend
you will need:
a bottle of white / orange / rosé wine
local to you edible flourishing herbs & flowers
a quart-sized mason jar
Let the May Wine making process be a ritual and head out one morning, while the dew is still on the flowers. Take a few deep grounding breaths, opening yourself to the plants that are around you. Search for and collect that which you are excited about, that which wants to be in the wine, that which you have in abundance. Give thanks and praise to the flowers as you collect them, tell them how beautiful they are. Thank them for their flowering. It is important to say: Make sure you are 100% sure of your plant ID before you harvest.
When you have collected about 2-3 cups of herbs and flowers, place them in the mason jar. Pour the wine over the plant material, put the lid on the jar and give your mix a good shake. This wine can infuse for about a week, or you can make it 24 hours beforehand. I enjoy a little bit of a longer infusion, because I love a stronger herby brew. Let sit, on your altar or in a favorite spot in the kitchen where you can spend time shaking it a bit every day, bestowing your spring wishes to the flower potion inside the jar. 
Strain when you are ready to drink. I recommend infusing no longer than a week and a half. Chill and serve and delight in the flowers when it is time!
Some notes:
- Yes, you can use dried herbs for this! 
- Yes, making an infused wine is possible. This is an ancient form of medicine making. 
- I doubled this years recipe, using two bottles of a pet nat instead of one.
- Yes, the wine changes a little bit in taste but I promise you it is pleasing as ever; you are     drinking the energy of the land. 
- If you do not alcohol, infuse a fruit juice! But keep it in the fridge during the infusion process.
- Repeating this again: Make sure you are 100% sure of your plant ID before you harvest.
Some ideas for your May Wine: sweet woodruff, violets, lilacs, forsythia, cleavers, elderflower, hawthorn blossoms, linden leaf & flower, chickweed, local fruits and berries (or get some from the grocery store!), maple blossoms, clover, apple blossoms, cherry blossoms, birch leaf, roses, redbud, edible magnolia, dandelion, ground ivy, rosemary, thyme, mints….
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Okay friends, as always thanks for being here. Some of you are new here and I am so grateful to connect in this way. I will be in touch soon with some class announcements and other floral delights, when the Floralia celebrations have come to a close. Enjoy the delights of Spring, happy imbibing. 
A big hug from the apple orchard full of blossoms,
x Liz 
p.s. Feel free to forward this to a friend who maybe would like to make May Wine with you? If you are this friend, you can subscribe to the newsletter here