Honeysuckle Syrup and sparkling water make for a refreshing way to sip the spring season and try to preserve that fresh, floral scent as long as possible.
There are those moments that rock one’s personal history, those moments when we look back and recall exactly where we were with a nearly photographic level of precision. I remember the chair where I sat and the model that was on set the moment I found out Anthony Bourdain had committed suicide.
I was on a shoot with one of my favorite new clients (I’m a commercial/editorial stylist beyond this blog). The energy was so positive, so inclusive and so overwhelmingly female. I had taken a brief moment to check my phone- that reflex we all seem to have programmed into us these days- only to see CNN’s memorial style post. It was enigmatic, so I dug deeper only to discover the worst- suicide. I felt so immediately deflated.
Anthony Bourdain was a role model to so many of us. He had the dream job, but he really personalized and pushed his role. He had a way of asking tough questions and a poetic way with words. He harmonized cynicism and a rough exterior with an earnest intention to bring people together.
How could he end all of that?!
But that’s exactly what’s so hard to understand about mental illness, why so many of us brush it off too quickly- it’s not immediately relatable. I’m so grateful for the friends who have entered my life in the last year, friends who work to promote seeking help, writing through pain and finding support groups. They are friends who have had my back and lent an ear. Admittedly, I have so much more to learn about mental health, and I fear too many of my friends and family think (and say!) I’m too busy for them. I want them to know, and I need to express this more- this is not the case.
These are just a few of my friends who work share their stories and/or work on the mental health front:
The Food Mood Girl
The Homeless Gospel Choir
Amanda Filippelli / Write to Heal
What was so shattering about Bourdain’s death was how much he had achieved and how revered he was. He was successful, traveled the world, worked hard, was dedicated to a mission, and encouraged inclusivity. Millions related to him, as evidenced by the outpouring of sorrow upon the news of his death. To see someone have “it all” and have it not be enough was sobering.I work really hard and perhaps too much. I need to take more time with those I love, take more time to enjoy the journey, to appreciate those around me because feeling connected is vital.
I’ll remember the day Anthony Bourdain died, but I’ll also remember the night that followed. After letting my schedule get the best of me in years past, I had sworn I would attend this year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival. Despite the fatigue I felt from said photo shoot, I was intent on these plans, so the Rustbelt Farmer and I packed a bottle of wine and a picnic blanket, and we biked downtown to see the ever mesmerizing Valerie June.
While making our way through the concert field, our good friend Hanna (remember her farming work?) found us and invited us to join her group. Hanna and her boyfriend Drew are too of my favorites- earnest, passionate, kind, kind, kind people who make me laugh and feel more joyful. The lights came on, Valerie June’s medusa-like locks hit the stage, and she brought so much light to a day shrouded in darkness. The kids and adults next to me danced their hearts out.
When Valerie June tells the stories of her songs, she tells the stories of opening herself up to the universe, of listening, of transcribing the magic that finds her (much like Liz Gilbert’s process of writing the stories that find her). Her stage presence feels like an embrace, and on that day, a day laden with sadness, that embrace felt so hopeful.
Lately, I’ve started to disbelieve the notion of “balance.” Life isn’t that neat, tidy and compartmentalized, but I do know this, for all the darkness out there, there is so much light, but it’s not always easy to find, and we can’t always find it alone.
This honeysuckle syrup is an invitation to live in the moment and soak up the season, to tune in and be less busy. You quite literally have to stop and smell the flowers in order to make this drink. Honeysuckle, like Valerie June, has such a big personality. This time of year, that fresh scent will find me while driving, at top speeds with the windows down, even when there’s no yellow flowers in sight.
These are the much anticipated flowers that line my regular neighborhood walk with my Julep (she’s probably not a fan because I always want to stop and inhale deeply while she wants to charge toward the park!). The first blossoms tease, and then they burst onto the fence and urge me not to miss their short season.
If you just need a reminder to reframe priorities, to embrace the season and enjoy all of your hard work (ie: the reminder I(!!!) need!), I made this honeysuckle syrup drink for us. But if you need more than a break, more than flowers, more than a walk outside, I sincerely hope you reach out and find the appropriate resources because as Valerie June sang, “There is a light, You have inside you, Can touch.”
Be well, my friends.
Honeysuckle Syrup for a Sparkling Spring Drink
2 cups honeysuckle flowers, stems + leaves removed
1 cup honey
1 cup water
Clean fresh-picked honeysuckle by dipping them into a bowl of cold water and straining. Set aside.
Bring honey and water to boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the honeysuckle flowers, cover and infuse for at least an hour. For delicate infusions like honeysuckle, I like to leave the infusion overnight in the refrigerator before straining.
For a sparkling beverage, combine 1-2 Tablespoons Honeysuckle Syrup and sparkling water over ice. Sip and enjoy!
You can also drizzle this syrup over pancakes, ice cream or over a cheese spread.