Saturday, March 1, 2008

Fun with Herbs: Wonderfully Green Weeds

One of the more interesting things I’m fortunate enough to be able to do is teach a class through the Derry Cooperative School District - Center for Adult Studies in Derry, NH. I taught a class for the first time with them in Spring 2007, and they were kind enough to invite me to teach again this year.

The course is titled “Fun with Herbs” and is a five week course that covers introductory topics and activities with the smell good, feel good, taste good, wonderfully green weeds. Here’s a description of the class according to the Spring 2008 course flyer:

“Learn the basics of how to use common herbs in your everyday life. This hands-on course teaches you how to plant a small window box garden, make an herbal inspired meal, create a soothing lip balm, blend your own home-made incense, and understand how to harvest, store, or select quality herbs.”

Each Monday evening for five weeks beginning in March, students get to know the plants. They get their hands dirty planting, cutting, cooking, blending and using herbs in ways they may not have tried before. The course focuses on just a handful of plants, which gives each student time to get to know each plant individually and to gain a working knowledge of what they are, how to use them, how to grow them, and how to harvest and store them.

The best part about the class work, other than working with the plants themselves is of course getting to know the students. During the first class I taught, I was pleasantly surprised by the sincere interest and enthusiasm of the six women in the group. Despite their different backgrounds and lives, they made an instant connection and were swapping contact information and sharing resources, tips and recipes without hesitation.

In today’s world of drive-through food, frenzied work-loads and over-scheduled lives, the simple pleasure of women gathering around a table to learn, talk, laugh, and share stories is a simple pleasure that I treasure. Taking time to interact with each individual person and to learn about them is refreshing. Taking time to slow down, be present and experience the smell, texture, and taste of the plants, is rejuvenating.

Teaching this course is as much fun for me as it is for the students who attend, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to spend my late-winter/early-spring evenings sharing the lessons of herbs - the wonderfully green weeds.

My First Foray Into the Blogging World.

I’ve finally taken my first step into the blogging world. It took me a while to get here, which you may think is odd for a fairly outgoing, career ‘marketing type’ such as myself. You know us marketers, those annoying types of people who spend every day thinking about how to position, brand and present a company in the world in the best, most memorable way possible, to increase sales and reduce the friction of the buying cycle.

Yup, I’m the kind of person who formulates an opinion on website functionality when I shop online, make comments out loud (even if I’m home alone with only the cat to hear me) when I receive a direct mail offer with no tracking system on it, and laugh uncontrollably when I see a live trade publication ad with an outline of an empty box and a big bold “FPO” printed diagonally in the location where a photo should be. For all you marketing types reading this, yes, I really did see “FPO” (for placement only) on an ad by a former client and yes, my laughing was loud and boisterous.

So, with years of writing and managing the corporate communications of companies to public audiences, you’d think I’d have no trouble at all with writing my own blog, right? Wrong. This is a challenge of a different sort. This is a personal blog and as such, well it’s personal! Throughout my entire life, it’s always been easier to do for others rather than to boldly step to the front and center of the stage and declare “this is me”. It’s a bit nerve racking to put myself out there on the fail tree limb and pray that a strong breeze doesn’t shake the branch uncontrollably and send me tumbling dangerously toward an uncertain, unpleasant, free-falling failure. But since inaction guarantees failure, I’m taking my chances on the tree limb. I hope you’ll join me.