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.