In early summer there are linden blossoms on city trees.
Yes, even as the world warms and it feels increasingly like it must also be spinning out of orbit, there is comfort to be found in moments of predictability. In the midst of chaos and corruption and cowardice and a political landscape filled with actors so craven that they seem like the stuff of fiction, there are linden flowers.
Even the most novice urban forager can identify a linden tree. The leaves are heart-shaped. The flowers are honey-colored and loaded with pollen. To pass underneath a linden tree in June is to be stopped in your tracks. The thick scent of the honey-sweet flowers will draw your nose skyward. It masks other city smells and for a minute, standing underneath, you’re engulfed by sweetness. The chalky gray-green undersides of the leaves form a patchwork pattern. Allow your eyes to focus and you’ll see honeybees feasting on the flowers. Join them.
The pale green slender leaves are the ones you want to pick, alongside the flowers. Hunt for low-hanging branches and pinch off what you can without hoarding too many. Bring your flowers home. Spread them out on a board or a table or a basket. Let them dry. After a few days and before too much dust has settled, pop them into a paper bag and let them dry out even more. Brew a cup of linden tea. Share it with your kids. Let the plant medicine work its magic to calm nerves and quiet thoughts.
There was a federal primary election in New York this week. A few miles north of here, in New York’s 14th Congressional District, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28 year-old Latina woman from the Bronx, ran on a platform advocating for living wages, medicare for all, fully funded public schools and universities, affordable housing, justice for immigrants, renewable green industry, clean campaign finance, and, in her words, “an economy of peace.” She won.
What I’m trying to say is forage for linden, fill your cup with comfort, and remember that there’s goodness to be found everywhere. Remember that even in the midst of dirt and grime and concrete sidewalks, lindens are in bloom. Remember that in the midst of a moment defined by monstrous attacks on humanity, that smart, qualified, just humans abound. You are likely one of them. You have sisters and mothers and brothers and fathers and friends who are, too. Maybe you can forage for linden and draft your platform. Maybe you can forage for linden and call your representatives. Maybe you can forage for linden and appeal to your friends who might think that they disagree with you but perhaps, after all, you can both agree that all people deserve to be free.
PS. If you feel a little bit skittish about steeping your city flowers and drinking them, this study out of Boston might offer a bit of solace.
I needed to read that today, thank you!
yes yes yes!
Your beautiful words and perspective are true medicine. Thank you.
Just lovely. Thank you.
Yes!! Love this so. The goodness that appears in other people and in nature around us can be so inspiring. Filling up on peace and then putting it to use 🙂
I never knew Linden (aka Basswoood) trees had foraging material. (I knew they hold nutrition for pollinators, which makes my heart go thump, especially because the city planted two in my boulevard.) Your image is of the showy, curving bracts whose lime color contrasts with the trees heart-shaped leaves. The bracts are part of the flower. Thanks for your thoughtful content and gorgeous images – they really are a balm in themselves (not to mention the potential in your tea method).
I really needed to read this today (this week, month, since Nov 2016?). Thank you!
I feel so overwhelmed and powerless. I know there is goodness everywhere, and beauty and kindness.
Just feeling hard to reach.
Those are among the most powerful words I ever read. Here, and in general. Thank you so much.
Even though I do not live in America, I feel the same. Power to the people! 🙂
The tea is good and I love herbs gathered by myself, but could i warn you. Be careful about flowers in smoked streets, they took all dirt and smoke from the air! It’s much better to find linden trees in the forest or at least in parks far away from dusty road.
Always preferable, but the link I put at the bottom of the piece provides some solace re: air pollution and flowers!
Thanks for that study from Boston! We picked a haul of roadside blackberries and my husband gave them the side eye… “are they safe?”
I’ll give him the link to that article while i eat another helping of blackberry crisp – http://thekriegers.org/2018/06/wild-blackberry-crisp/
My husband and I drink linden all the time so I just sent him a link! And then I’m going to convince him to come with me on a linden foraging adventure since we live so close to NYC. Are there any specific spots to look for the linden trees?
They’re everywhere along city streets! But the most important part is the timing! Usually mid-to-late June is when you’ll find the blossoms!
I missed them this summer! Is there any value or danger in the full green leaves?
I’ve never heard of anyone using the full green leaves! I would recommend doing a little digging before trying that!
Hi there! I collected some linden flowers and leaves. I was wondering if you can give me advice on how to crush/cut/ ground them? Right now I have whole pieces of flowers and leaves, but I want to make them smaller so that I can add them to my tea with a spoon. Just wondering, how do I ground them up? Thank you!
I always steep them whole, but if you want to crush I’d try a mortar and pestle!
Comments are moderated.