Before I left for the summer, I stopped and admired every flower. I watched the seasons change but within the seasons, saw each flower bloom and fade in my tiny Portland neighborhood. First the camellias, then the cherry blossoms, then the lilac, tulips, dogwood, peonies, and at long last, the roses.
I wasn't brave enough to forage them, because they were so precious, but I'd collect newly fallen petals and dried them out in hopes of making rosewater. My dear friend Adrian saw this and told me about a place in the gorge where there is bush after bush of wild roses, plentiful and heavenly to forage. It's a secret place she kept close, and when she invited me to come I knew I was in for something special.
Adrian knew how to get there by sight-- there weren't specific directions, just that she knew what looked familiar and what didn't, and before I knew it, we walked into a clearing of wild roses. It was quiet, except for the bees, and when I looked down there were wild strawberries at our feet. We took our time, following the wild roses until they brought us to a hillside of wildflowers and then I really lost it.
I asked her if she had a system for picking petals, and she said she only took what called to her-- though she was always careful not to strip an entire area. She'd pluck a few in one spot, walk around to the other side, then make her way to the next bush, much like a bee. I juggled foraging and also taking photos with two cameras, and when I looked up, Adrian was halfway across the clearing, small as a tiny dot.
We could have stayed for hours, but we both had real life to come back to. I let the petals dry for a day then put them in a jar to steep in honey, and now I have the most fragrant rose honey. The other day I was thinking about how lonely I was when I first moved to Portland and lost my job. I didn't know when it would feel like home, or if I'd find people who'd feel like home, too. Two years later I find myself with friends and adventures I couldn't have dreamed up better myself.
Happy, happiest birthday Adrian! I'm so lucky to call you my friend <3
wild rose honey
1. allow the rose petals to just begin wilting, preferably laid out on a drying rack
2. pack the wild roses into a jar. seriously, pack them in
3. fill the jar with honey
4. flip the jar upside down every 12 hours for the next 3-4 days
5. drizzle onto your morning toast, your afternoon tea scones, or dip a pinky in
as many wild rose petals as you can manage
mild, local honey