Love, Loss, and Lemonade

When I was a kid one of my favourite parts of the summer holidays was going to stay with my gran for a week.

I always asked her if we could take a walk to her local Morrisons. Unlike my parents, she never denied me a packet of sweets or an ice cream, which was appealing in itself, but the stroll to the supermarket also took us right through the woods. She would point out the plants to me as we walked, and we’d always stop to admire the beetles and butterflies and the wildflowers growing in the woodland clearing.

My gran was the person who introduced me to elderflowers and sloes, and according to my dad, loved making country wines, including an elderflower wine that would “knock your socks off”.

A few years ago I made that journey to Morrisons for the last time, smiling to myself at how it felt like the longest adventure when I was a kid but in reality it was only a 15 minute walk. As I was sauntering along, I realised that this last visit to her house was the first time she had not been there to greet me, beaming at me at the front door, calling me her gorgeous girl, marvelling at my apparent surge in height and ushering me into the kitchen for a glass of her refreshing homemade lemonade.

Her lemonade was the perfect balance of sweet and sharp, and when she poured it from the jug into my glass, lemon zest would swirl and dance around before gently settling to the bottom of my cup. It was so delicious, a far cry from shop bought lemonade which always seemed lacking and too sweet in comparison.

Although I don’t have my gran’s elderflower wine or lemonade recipes, I have created my own special drinks over the years, infusing my concoctions with weeds, flowers and potted herbs from my garden and beyond.

One such drink, is my rosemary preserved lemonade. The simple ritual of gathering a couple of sprigs of rosemary from the garden, making the preserved lemon and rosemary syrup, and then sipping the lemonade on a hot summer’s day makes me feel close to my gran.

And it fills me with such joy to share a pitcher of my lemonade with people, as I’m sure she felt when she shared her lemonade with me. When I was tweaking this recipe for the Summer Foraging zine, I gave glasses of it to friends, family, and the guy fixing our fence! Everybody loved it and so I knew for sure it was too good a recipe not to share.

Making this lemonade has become a seasonal tradition for me, as it was for my gran making her lemonade, and as I hope it may become for you too. Traditions like these are so simple, but so special. One of the reasons why I love foraging is because it inspires us to come up with our own traditions, rituals and recipes when a particular plant is in season. Recipes and rituals that we can look forward to making year after year, to reconnect with ourselves, the land, and our loved ones.

Summer Foraging, my recipe zine is filled with some of my favourite summer plants and recipes, including rosemary preserved lemonade, lavender iced chai, mugwort caramel chocolate ice creams, peach and water mint sorbet and more! You can find the zine here, I hope you love reading it as much as I enjoyed making it for you.


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