where summer and autumn meet


This is one of my favorite moments in the year in the world of Northeast native plants, and I never let it pass without a trip to one of the native plant gardens near us, either at NYBG or BBG. It's a ritual to mark the shifting of the seasons, and a way to keep learning about our connection to the ecosystems that surround us, even as we go about our days along crowded sidewalks and tucked into bed in crumbling tenement buildings.

This year, the goldenrod is nearly past its prime just as the asters are getting ready to open. Last year, the two plant families seemed to reach their peak more simultaneously in a pollinator-laden riot of yellow and purple. The goldenrods, with their tuberous and densely matted root colonies are elbowing their way into the territory previously held by milkweeds and eupatoriums. The meadow plantings have grown full and lush, with the knee-high grasses and sedges providing support for the taller, leggier plants. Subtle shifts, for sure, but they feel meaningful. I've been watching each element of the garden come into its own from the beginning, and now we are bound together somehow. Our attention to these small details can be a path toward a deep love for the world and for each other. A love that moves us into action. I'd love to hear what you've been reading and thinking about this week, and how you've been taking loving action in the midst of it all. 

my own list of things read + done:

don't look away


And I'll leave you with a quote that I've been using to keep moving myself into action this week/month/year:

“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”

― Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark

ice brewed tea + help for Houston & South Asia


As muggy days fade into cooler nights, I wanted to share a new-to-me tea brewing method that I've been loving lately. In New York City, the days are still warm, but a current of turning inward runs under the surface, and I've been trying to set aside a bit of time to contemplate and plan for the days ahead. Ice brewing was made for this moment.

Kouridashi is a traditional Japanese brewing method similar to cold brewing, which extracts the most delicate and volatile aromatics of the tea leaves, without a trace of bitterness. It can be a lovely way to explore different facets of a tea you already know in its hot-brewed form. Because of the subtlety of the flavors revealed (floral, buttery, sweet notes), I find that it's best to use a single-note tea (like an oolong, white tea or a Japanese green tea), or a very simple blend. I've been using our Green Glow Elixir, which is a simple blend of organic Japanese sencha, matcha and wild mint. Because there are so many variables (size of ice cubes, type of tea, room temperature, etc.) the instructions below are more of a general guide, feel free to adapt it according to your tastes. Part of the pleasure of the process is learning to see your tea leaves in a new way and paying close attention to the messages they might reveal to you.

To try it yourself:

Place your tea leaves in a small teapot or a bowl. A tablespoon of tea leaves works well for Japanese green teas, use a touch more for white tea or oolong.

Place ice cubes on top (I used two large cubes from this mold). The speed of melting and brewing will be determined by the size of your ice cubes, but ideally you'd use enough ice cubes to melt into about 8oz of water. Feel free to experiment with your water/ice to tea ratio to suit your preferences.

Some like to jumpstart the brewing process with a splash of hot water over the ice cubes and tea. I prefer to just let the ice melt on its own, adding more if it seems necessary to create enough tea.

While your tea is steeping: read, resist, garden, meditate, go for a walk, brainstorm, organize, sing, strategize, nap, send resources to help Houston, if you can. Go take a peek at the vintage treasures I'm donating 100% of sales from this week for Harvey relief, too! I'd also like to mention that in solidarity with the people of Bangladesh, who are also experiencing devastating flooding right now, 100% of sales from The Rains botanical perfume until Tuesday, September 5th will go to OxFam's emergency response team currently working in South Asia.

Steep until the ice is melted, and strain thoroughly. Sip with love.

resources for this moment


(artwork by Grace D. Chin)

I'd just like to share a few resources that I've found helpful in processing the events of the last few weeks, and for moving into action against white supremacy.

Those of us who are white (as I am) are being called upon to examine and transform our own ideas and perceptions, and to use our time and our resources to help eradicate the cultural sickness of white supremacy. As white members of the healing community, specifically, I believe we have a sacred collective responsibility to use our lives and work to help dismantle this system.  

The links below are just a few places to look to for inspiration, there are so many resources being shared right now. Listen deeply, and expand the circle of voices you follow. I'm not an expert, I'm learning. We'll make progress when we commit to keep learning, together, even when things get uncomfortable. As white folks, it's our responsibility to center the voices of communities of color, but remember that it isn't fair to expect them to bear the burden of educating us. Read, listen to and financially support the people of color doing that work, and respect their time and energy. The work that needs to be done in ourselves and in our communities will not be quick, easy, tidy, or ever finished. Dismantling entire deeply entrenched systems of oppression is lifelong healing work, but we cannot afford to be deterred. Take heart, take care and take action. 

self-education + examination:

(some really helpful definitions) on racism, discrimination & bigotry by Karen Walrond at Chookooloonks

this piece by Ijeoma Oluo at The Establishment (she also has a book coming out soon, pre-order it here)

The Painful and Liberating Practice of Facing My Own Racism by Courtney Martin at On Being

a reading list for young and old on social justice topics (talking about these issues with kids is an important part of breaking the cycle) from Erin at Reading My Tea Leaves

action to take:

join your local Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) chapter or other local anti-racist organizing group, while remaining aware of the critiques of white organizing spaces, and committing to address them. We will make mistakes, but we cannot do this work without real accountability to communities of color.

Thanks for being here, let's keep talking about things that matter.


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