A Dinner Bell & Sassafras Tea.

Well, we managed to strike the perfect balance between work & play, rest & relaxation during this delightfully cozy October weekend here at the homestead!
We moved our massive palatial chicken/turkey mansion (otherwise known as the neighbor’s wooden play gym) into the new chicken pasture this weekend. It’s quite possibly the heaviest conglomeration of wood & bolts on earth. Assisting Josh with the process of removing the slides, the swings, sawing off some of the longer posts & then physically loading it onto a trailer, only to turn around & unload it from the trailer 4 minutes later, left me feeling like a total badass yesterday. We worked well together & accomplished a major task in a relatively short amount of time. It was awesome. And then I woke up this morning with the mobility equivalence to that of a decrepit 90-year-old woman. Someone please draw me a warm bath of Epsom salt, STAT! Then carry me to the tub because I seem to be permanently adhered to the couch. Yikes. In case you didn’t know, I’m not 25 anymore. At any rate, it’s going to be the absolute, coolest, most funky chicken coop in all the land when we get it finished. Who knew I could get so excited about a birdhouse?
While wandering around yesterday, Josh discovered that we have 2 pecan trees. So this morning Jasper & I have been picking up chestnuts, walnuts & pecans. He also helped me collect some pinecones for a fall craft we’re working on. I have so many plans & recipes & projects for all of these mini harvests of earthy goodness we keep stumbling upon. While on a walk with the grandparents a couple weeks ago, G’ma Mauer pointed out all of the sassafras growing around the edges of the woods. I could hardly believe it! I would have never known it was there! This morning I dug up some of the roots & steeped them into a tea. The aroma of warm sassafras, mingling with the cool fall breeze pouring in through my kitchen window filled my spirit with something celestial. It’s the kind of holy divinity I typically only experience when in the sanctity of nature. My Granny used to occasionally dig up sassafras root & simmer it into a tea for me when I was a little girl. She always went heavy on the sugar – she was awesome like that. Thoughts & memories of her while I sit, sipping this heavenly concoction of sweet clover honey & boiled bark is truly a gift from God. Be sure to check out my sassafras tea pictures & “how to” at the bottom of the post. It’s easy & delicious.
Our vagabond, gypsy, family friend & former “city neighbor” Janine, drifted our way over the weekend for a quick visit. She is willingly floating about, living wherever the breeze blows her, sometimes stateside, sometimes not. She is truly a “citizen of the world” at present. Our lifestyles could not be more opposite at present. I’m tucked in, rooted in home & haven more than I’ve ever been in my life. She is footloose & fancy free, jet setting from here to there & pretty much everywhere on a whim! It’s cool & weird & brave. It drives home the reality of the old saying “to each is own” & makes me feel grateful to know so many of us are living our dreams in this life, embracing our own joy & feeding our own desires. It was fun introducing her to the new chickens, enjoying some sips, feasting on homemade chili from this summer’s canned tomato harvest & just catching up on one another’s latest adventures. As always, she was ready & willing to pitch-in on the Mauer family projects. She & Josh installed our fantastic, antique dinner bell out back near the outdoor kitchen. It’s so dreamy & special! I love it so much. My Dad purchased it years & years ago back in my hometown. He surprised us last month by bringing it here to Virginia. The sound is perfectly Zen-like & I can’t wait to use it to call in the troops to dinner. So far, Jasper & I have been ringing it every hour on the hour. I can’t help but wonder what our neighbors across the woods must think of this new addition to Pungo’s soundscape?
So, with Hurricane Joaquin in the forefront of everyone’s minds all last week, we were relieved to dodge that bullet here in coastal Virginia over the weekend. With all of the flooding in & around the vicinity, Josh & I are absolutely counting our blessings for the protection & sense of security we feel being out here in our new home. For the first time in about 5 years, we are finally able to let our guard down a bit & breathe a sigh of relief without having to stress out while keeping a watchful eye on the tide every time we’re threatened with floodwaters in the area. We loved our little house in the city, but wondering every single time a storm moves through whether or not it will end up being the one that sinks the abode was an emotionally taxing way to live year after year.  Don’t get me wrong, our new homestead is located less than a mile from the open waters of the Back Bay & the oceanfront is only about 11 miles away.  We choose to live on a coast. We’re smart enough to know there’s always a threat of disaster. Even so, that’s a big change from being the lowest house on the block with tidewater at the end of our street! There was more than one occasion when we were sweating bullets while living in our city house, waiting for high tide & praying for the best. It feels good to finally be high & dry, to safely live outside of a flood zone for once. The days following a hurricane, tropical storm or Nor’easter spent ripping out duct work, sawing up branches, downed trees & working through insurance claims is pretty darn grueling. Not the best part of coastal living. My heart goes out to the folks juggling those issues at present.
Well, that’s about all from the homestead for now. As always, thanks for reading & cheers to a wonderful week friends & family.
 ABOVE: Jasper having a go at ringing our new OLD dinner bell!
ABOVE: Jasper enjoyed digging up, scrubbing & breaking & sniffing the sassafras roots this morning.
ABOVE: This was basically one long root. We broke it into smaller pieces & scrubbed as much dirt as we could off of the bark.
ABOVE: We boiled the roots in 2 cups of water for about 5-8 minutes.
ABOVE: The scent is incredible & soothing.
 ABOVE: After boiling, we poured the tea through a sieve & into a medium size bowl to strain out all of the bark pieces & roots. Look at that gorgeous color!
ABOVE: Ladle the deliciousness into your favorite mug & add honey or sugar to taste.
ABOVE: Enjoy sassafras tea & a little snacky on a cozy, dark day.


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