Connect to Nature Online Class

24.06.2020

Garden Herbs and Other Delights!

Hello!
Welcome to another online Connect to Nature Creative Writing Class.

To anyone new to my online creative writing activity, this blog is a little place where every Wednesday I post a set of four creative writing tasks, all designed to help you to connect to the natural world and feel more at one with nature!

This week I thought it might be nice to use some inspiration from my kitchen windowsills and allotment where I have been growing culinary herbs. We often use the senses in writing to bring a piece of work to life. For example instead of just saying:

‘Today I took a walk in the garden.’

I can take you there through words, for example:

‘Today, I stepped into the garden and shivered. Not because it was cold, it was because a warm breeze was blowing and I immediately caught the scent of fresh roses and lavender on the air.’

Hopefully a sentence such as the above will delight a reader and entice them to read further, helping them to have a sensory experience through words.

So today’s session was inspired by garden herbs, but I will also include flowers and other sensory experiences in the natural world – particularly focusing on scents.

Task 1: (5 mins) If you have any kitchen herbs growing on your windowsills or in your garden take a moment to break off a sprig. Inspect the cutting in your hand. What colour is it, how do the lines travel across a leaf, what does it smell and taste like? If you haven’t got any fresh herbs try a peppercorn, or some dried herbs from a spice rack, you could even use a herbal tea bag if you have any.

Write ten words about the experience – (E.g Peppermint: Tingly, fresh, green, spicy, minty, stems, leaves, peppery, bursting, flavour!)

Here are some examples you could choose to use:

Garden Herbs IdeasKitchen finds
Rosemary
Thyme
Oregano
Basil
Lemon balm
Peppermint
Peppercorns
Fennel seeds
Mixed herbs
Curry powders (be careful spicy!)
Teas – such as chamomile or mint

Task 2: (5 mins) Routines and rhythms inspired by garden herbs. There are many health benefits linked to our kitchen herbs. For example: Mint is said to ease digestion, lavender can help soothe the mind and bring on sleep. Marigolds are antiseptic and used to heal skin problems. Lemon balm is said to be the elixir of life and to strengthen the heart. Bergamot (used in earl grey tea) and St John’s Wort are said to lift the mood and ease depression. Thyme was often used to keep the breath fresh and healthy in Roman times!

Write about a day in which garden herbs and flowers are used to balance the day. You could write this as a diary extract, or perhaps medicinal advice for a fictional character. Or if you like you could write about one of the health benefits you have experienced from a favourite garden herb or plant.

Task 3: (10 mins) I have read that the aroma of Rosemary is said to boost our memory function. I even found an article on it here which not only sites current evidence from a recent study, but also says that Rosemary Garlands were worn in exams in Ancient Greece! Inspired by this knowledge write about a memory of freshly smelt flowers or herbs:

Here are some examples to get you started (but feel free to use one of your own):

  • A freshly cooked meal full of herbs and spices
  • A wild woodland full of wild garlic flowers
  • The smell of freshly cut flowers (sweet peas, lavender or roses are good for this one!)

Task 4: (5 mins) Now you have fully warmed up to using the sense of scent in your writing, take it further than kitchen herbs. Write a paragraph of ‘free writing’ (whatever pops into your head) using one of the following themes:

  • Freshly cut grass.
  • The smell of sea air.
  • The smell of the air after a heavy rain storm.
  • The smell of lime trees on a promenade walk (for York Residents – the lime trees along the river near Millennium Bridge and along Bootham Road smell amazing right now!)

I hope that this session has awakened your senses and left you wanting to go out and find lots more interesting scents and flavours! A sprig of mint in lemon water is a lovely cooling drink in the hot weather. Remember there are no rules to creative writing, the whole point is to have fun with words, no restrictions!

I look forward to hearing how you get on with these tasks. Have a lovely week, see you on Friday with words and pictures that are sent in to me in response to tasks. I have an easy and fun art challenge coming out on Saturday.

Best wishes,
Emma

Published by Emma

Hi my name is Emma! I am a writer and artist. I work for the NHS at Converge (www.yorksj.ac.uk/converge) and I am also an MA graduate in Creative writing and am currently studying for a PhD in Humanities. I have been leading a creative writing class at the beautiful St Nicks in York (www.stnicks.org.uk) for the last five years. When I am not at work I'm on my allotment or at Base Camp (my home) planning new adventures.

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