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Early Spring - Give Yourself The 'Gift' Of An Hour

by Barbara Payne(more info)

listed in aromatherapy, originally published in issue 121 - March 2006

Early spring is such a busy time for all of nature. Look around and see just how much work has been achieved by spring plants, how much nest material – rubbish to us – is being made into comfortable homes by the birds. Frogs are croaking in readiness to procreate and early flowers give us wonderful colour after all the grey days.

Occasionally around February and March time, there are sunny, crisp days that give plenty of opportunity to go out and tidy borders, prune roses, sow seeds and generally enjoy nature whilst savouring the song of the blackbird. Early herbs too give off their wonderful aromas, as well as providing us with all the therapeutic properties they have to offer, even in such tiny leaves. I am always delighted to see new growth on perennial plants – it is rather like greeting old friends who have been away.

When there are jobs to be done elsewhere, taking some time out can be testing, because we view time as precious. This is why we use such phrases as 'spending time', 'buying out time', 'saving time' and 'can't afford the time' and so on. You may feel you cannot spare the time to wander around outside. Be assured; the brief glimpses of things to come lifts the heart. Using free time, giving ourselves the 'gift' of just one hour is all you need to rejuvenate your energy and help reassess the significance on the one hand or the triviality on the other, of other things we may deem more important.

I keep a small note book for documenting little tasks that crop up from time to time. I do not necessarily complete the odd jobs as they occur, but note them down in a 'choosing list' for when I do have the inclination and the time. For instance, it may say, 'clear weeds from gravel path' or 'deadhead flowers in pots'. I may carry out just one of these small tasks which could take from ten to 20 minutes, but even after such a modest amount of time, it is amazing the satisfaction there is in crossing off a chore. In an hour I may be able to complete three or four on the list.

Making sketches to be painted later or pressing some flowers for rainy days may feel like a luxury, but it is nurturing to include something creative in your schedule for enriching your life with your reward of an hour.

Another lovely way of refreshment is making a tisane from plants in the garden, (or pots), and then sitting in a sunny spot to drink it. This is good for the body and boosts the inner man. The new leaves of Melissa officinalis, (lemon balm) are wonderful for this. For centuries, lemon balm has been a recognized soother and relaxes the mind. This is due to its predominant natural chemical components, these being 50% aliphatic alderhydes and 20% sesquiterpenes. Both these natural chemicals have a relaxing effect when combined with the rest of the natural substances found in the oils, in the leaves of Melissa. These fresh, immature leaves give a delicious lemony smell to sponge cake too.

Why not choose one or two newly grown herbs to make a special recipe?

Chopped new leaves of chives (Allium shoenoprasum) give a light taste of onion to a salad, or add them to butter and cream cheese for melting on hot baked potatoes. Finely chopped apple-mint, (Mentha suaveolens) or spearmint, (Mentha spicata), sprinkled onto lightly buttered pasta shells, makes a delicious addition to any salad table.

This time of year is also a good time to visit the nursery to buy your pots for the garden. Waiting too long can cause disappointment, as one may find favoured pots have either been sold or there is damage. Buying early means more choice and being prepared for good gardening weather. It may be some time before you can take out another hour from busy schedules to use the pots and/or accessories but at least you will have them ready so that time is utilized sensibly by being able to get straight on with a job when you need to.

The temptation to constantly work is great in these times of deadlines, schedules, and diaries. In order to keep a healthy balance between mind and body we need to move with nature in her ever changing circles. Spring is a wonderful energetic time of year when we need to remember to use some of the energy rising within us for ourselves. If we frequently repay all our hard work with the 'gift' of just one hour of respite, it will restore us and help us to keep going longer.


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About Barbara Payne

Barbara Payne taught clinical aromatherapy in various hospitals in the North of England, for School of Health, University of Hull, and was principal of an IFA and IFPA accredited college of clinical aromatherapy, for many years. She served as an inspector and examiner and was Chair of Education for the ISPA, (now IFPA). Barbara had regular interviews with BBC radio and appeared on national television occasionally and lectured annually for the RHS. Having contributed to Positive Health over many years, Barbara has now decided to retire from her PH Expert Regular Column after Issue 154 in Jan 2009. She can be reached on Tel: 01482 835358;

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