The first day of winter this year is Sunday, December 21st. At exactly 11:03 PM the winter solstice begins in the Northern Hemisphere. For most of us this day will pass without notice. A few of us might note the late dawn and the early sunset, but most people will be busy finalizing their holiday plans paying little, if any notice to this phenomenon. Not so, at Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm.
In preparation for winter and to insure the lavender plants survive the cold, much study is given to the weather predictions each year. In ancient times people built monuments like Stonehenge and Pacu Picchu to mark the sun’s passage. Fortunately, there is a multitude of scientific data at our disposal today. Although farming, still relies to a great degree, on the farmer’s expertise and gut instincts.
At Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm care is given to insure our beautiful lavender plants survive the cold temperatures and brisk winds on Washington Island. In late November the plants were covered for the winter. While this is a labor intensive task it has proven to be worth the time, effort and expense it requires.
It is satisfying to look out across the fields and see the lavender plants all “snug in their beds,” while visions of purple blooms and an abundant harvest, “dance through our heads.” Here at the farm we welcome the winter solstice. It permits us time to plan for the coming year, develop wonderful new products, test recipes for the café, maintenance equipment, and finally to rest from the physical rigors of farming.
Enjoy this day. Permit yourself a bit of extra rest. Put the shopping, baking and decorating on hold for a few hours. Soak in a tub of soothing lavender bath salts and make yourself a cup of lavender infused hot chocolate. As the earth regenerates itself, so too should we.
Josephine’s Hot Chocolate – Recipe from Discover Cooking with Lavender by Kathy Gehrt.
- 3 Cups of whole milk or half and half
- 2 teaspoons of dried culinary lavender buds
- 1 ounce of bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pour milk into a medium sauce pan, stir in lavender buds. Set over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow mixture to steep for 3-5 minutes or longer, if a stronger lavender flavor is desired. Strain the milk removing lavender buds, return the milk to the pan, over medium heat whisk in the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Whisk in the cocoa, sugar, and salt. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Pour into mugs top with whipped cream or marshmallows. Enjoy!