In my mind elderflowers are linked so strongly with Joe…the final weeks of growing him, his birth, and his arrival into a heatwave when they were in full bloom. I have made elderflower cordial every summer for as long as I can remember, and was so determined I couldn’t miss this the year he was born. It would have seemed like missing summer. So, Mia and I made a batch of elderflower cordial in the days before Joe was born, cutting and washing the flowers from the tree in our garden, letting them infuse for several days before bottling. There were so many elderflowers that summer, and I felt the need to make another batch, so with a hot and restless newborn swaddled against me in a sling, I went though the cordial making process again. In those days when we stayed in our pyjamas all day long, I spent endless hours feeding Joe, and we lived mostly on fish-finger sandwiches, we made time for cordial making. It was so therapeutic during those crazy newborn days to be doing something so familiar, and to be acknowledging the seasons, despite the fact that day and night had temporarily lost their boundaries. The memories are complicated and sweet, and as I see the elder tree starting to flower each year I think of Joe, of his arrival, and of his upcoming birthday.
‘Elderflower’. The origin of its name is Anglo-Saxon and stems from the word Æld meaning fire; the hollowed out stems were used to start fires. It has been said,that the English summer is not here until the Elder is fully in flower, and that it ends when the berries are ripe. A wealth of folk-lore, romance & superstition center round this English tree. Used as medicine, lotions, scented oil, food, wine & tea. In countrysides,the Elder is certainly one of the most attractive features of the hedgerow.