Holding on to summer

Dried oak leaf hydrangeas

Dried oak leaf hydrangeas

Autumn is a time for collecting — thoughts, memories, leaves and flowers left behind by an ebbing summer. It was time, I decided, to cut hydrangeas as a reminder when winter’s icy clutches seem to hold on forever that spring will eventually follow. Though the flowers’ colors fade like suntans and lingering evenings, the memories they elicit take the chill off the long night.

Flowers strung out to dry

Flowers strung out to dry

After choosing, cutting, gathering up, carrying in and stripping the leaves off the blooms, I chose one of the two main methods of drying the flowers without letting them wilt and brown. I decided to hang them upside-down. You need space for that. If you tie them in bunches, the air won’t circulate around them, and they won’t dry properly. If you simply lay them flat, one side will be as flat as the surface they lie on. Thus, the idea of stringing them up along a line stretched across the kitchen.

If they don’t dry successfully, next year I’ll try the water method: leave them in water until water evaporates and petals become papery.

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