Readers of the China Bayles mystery novels are familiar with the usefulness and wonder of the many herbs the amateur sleuth sells in her beloved Thyme and Seasons shop. Compiled by national bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert at the request of her fans, China Bayles' Book of Days gathers together tidbits and treasures about plants and reveals ways you can put more green into your daily life.
Featuring 365 days of recipes, crafts, gardening tips, remedies, and more, this special volume is a personal calendar of the legends and lore of herbs and also features brand-new essays from the author, clues from China's mysteries, and some special contributions by the irrepressible members of the Myra Merryweather Herb Guild, Pecan Springs's oldest civic organization.
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Susan Wittig Albert grew up on a farm in Illinois and earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. A former professor of English and a university administrator and vice president, she is the author of the China Bayles Mysteries, the Darling Dahlias Mysteries, and the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter. Some of her recent titles include Widow’s Tears, Cat’s Claw, The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose, and The Tale of Castle Cottage. She and her husband, Bill, coauthor a series of Victorian-Edwardian mysteries under the name Robin Paige, which includes such titles as Death at Glamis Castle and Death at Whitechapel.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardeners, florists, and herbalists.
If your garden is doing particularly well this year, you can thank St. Fiacre, the patron saint of gardens. If it isn’t—well, perhaps you could ask this helpful saint to lend a hand.
The Tale of St. Fiacre
Fiacre lived in the seventh century. He was raised in an Irish monastery, where he learned to use healing herbs. He wanted to be a hermit, but his skill and knowledge brought people to him, so he went to France in search of solitude, taking up residence in a cave near a spring. He needed a garden (who doesn’t?) so he asked a nearby bishop, St. Faro of Meaux, for land. The bishop gave him as much garden space as he could plow in a day. The next morning, it is said, Fiacre chose his spot and began to walk around it, dragging his spade behind him. Magically, wherever his spade touched, trees toppled, bushes were uprooted, the soil was turned over, and the rocks were plucked out. The local folk, frightened, called it sorcery, but the bishop declared Fiacre’s garden a miracle. (Personally, I suspect that the bishop had some gardening work of his own that needed to be done.) Fiacre’s garden, always in bloom and always beautifully tended, became a place of pilgrimage. His healing herbs were eagerly sought, and his culinary herbs were used to flavor food that was offered to the poor.
To invite blessings to your garden you might purchase a small statue of this gardener’s saint and put it in a quiet corner, where you can enjoy the meditative silence Fiacre sought in his own garden. Surround it with such healing herbs as sage, thyme, mint, fennel, dill, and St. John’s wort, herbs that Fiacre would have known and used.
The growing of the first few herbs is the discovery of a whole new world of garden pleasure and human meaning, but it is when a gardener has tried a few, liked them and been liked by them and would go on that the full adventure begins. –Henry Beston, Herbs and the Earth
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