Monday, March 18, 2013

Re-Imagining Lavender in Texas

Hannah and I are strolling our bicycles through the quaint German village of Fredericksburg, Texas when we hear a woman calling to us from her car.
"Do ya'll have a place to stay tonight?"
We hesitate for a moment. She elaborates.
"My son used to work at a bicycle shop, and we host cross-country cyclists all the time at our ranch. Come on down!" She handed us a piece of paper with her phone number and an address, rolled up her window, and was off.

A few hours later, we're deep in the wind-swept hills of west Texas cattle country, home of Imagine Lavender Farms and Bernadette and John McFarling. The energetic couple show us around the "ranch", which is not only home to goats, chickens, cows and horses, but also an expansive field of lavender plants.

Lavender has become a sustainable cottage industry here in the hill country west of Austin. Its antimicrobial powers and uplifting aroma lend themselves well to a variety of products, and the breathtaking beauty of a field of lavender in full bloom brings tourists from around the world.
Bernadette McFarling measures out lavender sugar in her workshop.
Those who perform alchemy with lavender keep their recipes and formulas closely guarded, but Bernadette says the key to using lavender in cooking is to be sparing and allow the lavender buds to meld with, rather than overwhelm other flavors. In salad dressings, sea salts and a variety of beverages, lavender is a distinctive and delightful addition. The annual Lavender Festival held in the nearby town of Blanco, Texas is practically steeped in lavender lemonade.

After a day of smelling and tasting, Hannah and I were well rested and ready to continue our journey. We rode on toward the east coast with a new appreciation for flowers and southern hospitality.

Wandering around the lavender fields in the fog, we discovered Bernadette's zen garden nestled in among the rows.

1 comment:

  1. You must be getting very close to the end of this journey across America. I hope you come thru Texas again and of course stay with us. The goats Ms Hannah & Tuula have become super moms with robust kids dancing about the pasture.