First, a little background:
My childhood experience of herbs and spices was that these came in small glass jars or McCormick tins (remember those?). It was a revelation when, while visiting an aunt, she sent me out to her garden with a pair of scissors, and the request to snip a few chives to jazz up our dinner. Herbs from the garden? And they were ok to eat?!
Of course, the chives were not only ok, but very yummy. Since then, I've embraced fresh parsley (I confess: I can't walk past those plants without snagging a leaf to savor), basil (makes lovely tea; who knew?!) blue balsam mint (divine!), lemon balm, sage, and more. As I've gotten more adventurous, I've nibbled on nasturtium (lovely in toasted cheese sandwiches), and made cookies with lemon verbena (yes, there were little green bits in these treats, and... they were oh so perfect).
In short, I'm sold on the concept of edible landscaping. And, having experienced its culinary blessings, I've stuck a toes into the realm of the medicinal, which... leads us to...
My elderberry shrub is in bloom. Full bloom. Georgeous bloom. The tiny white flowers will give way to almost equally tiny berries. Said berries are supposed to be full of healthy goodness, including helping you fight the flu. That sounded good to me. So, last year, I gathered a batch, boiled them, and turned them into a syrup, just in case illness struck.
Unfortunately, handwashing was not enough to keep the winter beasties away, and I had to dip into my syrup stash. My immune system was boosted by more than my DIY concoction: with each dose I dispensed for myself, I thought back to that warm mid-summer day on which I had visited with my shrub, gathered its fruit while basking in the sun's warmth, picked out the gazillion stems (a labor of love!), and created the syrup. My heart smiled at the memory represented on my spoon.
This is relevant is because my garden has taught me to courageously expand my boundaries, stepping out a little further with each growing season. About those elder flowers... this year (this week, in fact) I'm drying some for tea. Sure, I could buy them, packaged up (probably in plastic!) and ready to go. It wouldn't be the same, though, as I'd be missing that healing element of knowing that my garden yielded this gift of health.
Really, this is all a sort of insurance. I'm hoping that my throat won't scratch, and fever and its aches will remain at bay. But, if the germs insist on invading, I've got ingredients for a homegrown tea -- a cup of summer -- waiting in the wings to help my body (and spirits!) recover.