It happens every year. About two weeks before the Equinox, the official start of Spring (which, by the way, happened yesterday, hooray!), I start to feel tired. Bone-tired, wiped-out, exhausted, more so than during the darkest days of Winter. It seems counter-intuitive. These are the days when pale, perfect buds are shooting out from the ends of branches, when there are suddenly snowdrops, and primrose, and dead nettle, and daisies, when there is light, sweet and strong, filtering through window flung-wide.
Window flung-wide and light suffusing every corner of our rooms, all the dust, the things that have been, to quote Alanis, under-rug-swept. Light suffusing every corner of our lives, all the things that have been packed away, shoved in drawers, stashed out of sight, out of mind.
This Winter, not unlike a squirrel, I’d developed this habit of stuffing things in my wardrobe. That sweater I wore three days ago that was still sprawled across the couch? Into the wardrobe. That care package I’d prepared weeks back that was still sitting on the coffee table? Into the wardrobe. The half-finished pair of baby socks meant for an expecting friend? Into the wardrobe. That pair of copper-colored sequined pants I wore for my awkward outfit birthday party months ago? Crumpled somewhere between lots of other things in the wardrobe.
This past year has been transitional for me, in so many ways. There have been lots of changes, big ones, continent-sized ones and I’m not just talking about geographic location. It’s forced me to reckon with attachments to well-worn roles and patterns that have kept me in a kind of headlock.
Transition occurs in uncharted waters and the emotions it brings can be ones we’d rather pack away, shove out of sight, than face, feel. My stashing away of these minor parts of my life was pointing to a resistance of facing some much needed change.
The passing of Winter to Spring brings all kinds of changes and it can be an exhausting, not least because of all the things that suddenly come to light.
Maybe this is the reason Spring’s become, at least in many a health circle, detox season. Light falls on all parts of ourselves, even the parts that we’d rather not see, that we’d rather shrug off. It can reveal the need for transition or change and with it emotions we’d rather not deal with, ones we’d rather squirrel away.
It’s a lot more comfortable to think that we can strip away these parts of self, we can cleanse, be cleansed, be clean, be new.
There are many science-based reasons (further elucidated here) not to detox, but there’s also this more touchy-feely one: detoxing is a bit like shoving every out-of-place thing in the wardrobe. Your home may look tidy, but keep it up and, eventually, those things are going to start spilling out. And you’re going to need to deal with them. To sort through them. And, perhaps even, to integrate them–to forgive, to accept, and in doing so to open ourselves up to, not new selves, but rather new experiences as we shift and move along the spiral dance of inner seasons.
Which brings me to this jar of chamomile bitters. A remedy, not only for digestive unease, but also to ease the effects of the challenging feels that transitional times can bring to a head.
I carry this remedy in a pocket-sized bottle wherever I go. I place a few drops on my tongue before meals to get the digestive juices flowing and, lately, I’ve been using them throughout the day, as I sort through all my things.
I’ve found them to be exceptionally comforting in this learning to transition, to integrate, to open up toward the tulips and cherry blossoms and lilacs that are waiting to bloom.
- 1 cup German chamomile flowers, dried
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon cardamom pods
- 1/2 stick cinnamon
- 1 tiny pinch gentian (If you happen to know a local herbalist, ask her/him for a bit of this, as you really only want to use a tiny, tiny amount. [It’s mighty bitter]).
- 1 orange, skin + juice
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Add herbs to a large, lidded jar. Pour vodka over and seal.
- Let sit for 4 weeks, shaking every so often.
- After 4 weeks have passed, strain herbs from liquid: this is your tincture.
- Place herbs and orange, sugar and water in a sauce-pot and simmer for an hour to make a syrup.
- Strain syrup from sauce-pot and mix with tincture.
- Pour some into a pocket-sized bottle to carry with you wherever you go.