My name is Hattie Abernathy…
Some people call me a witch, but never to my face. They’re probably scared I’ll turn them into a frog – not that I ever have. Yet.
The year is 1915 and I was born in 1812. Yes, you read that right – I’ll be 103 this year. I suppose you want to know the secret of my long life. Would you believe me if I told you it was all down to plenty of fresh food, fresh air and laughter? No? Well it is. And a little bit of magic, of course.
I’ve lived in Little Morven for most of my life. I stay because I’m needed and besides, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be. I won’t say the English weather hasn’t started to take it’s toll on these old bones – these days I’m a little creaky in the mornings – but when you know where you belong, why would you want to be anywhere else?
‘Whoever came up with the phrase ‘sleeping like a baby‘ never had a baby themselves. I’m a great-grandmother and I can assure you that if your baby sleeps through the night, you’re one of the lucky ones. When I had my Rose, I couldn’t get her to sleep for more than two hours at a time and that was on a good day. And then, before you know it, you’re so tired that your body just won’t fall asleep even when you get the chance. That’s not a good place to be in.
So I knew how Claire Sykes felt when she came to see me yesterday. And for her to come and see me I knew it had to be bad. You see, when you’re married to the parish priest, going to see the village witch is just not done. And the Reverend Sykes is a very special type of parish priest. The type that thinks they never should have stopped burning witches at the stake.
By all accounts, they’re an unpleasant family and I’ve had my fair share of trouble from them, but a healer doesn’t pick and choose who’s worthy of healing. I’ll leave those sorts of decisions up to the Goddess.
So when I saw her coming up my garden path, I gritted my teeth and invited her in. I could tell she would have preferred to wait outside but then she might have been seen. And people talk, you see.
The baby was a sweet little thing, blonde just like her brothers and sisters. She was fast asleep in her basket with a heavy cloth over her to keep the sunlight out.
Apparently she sleeps very well during the day and that’s the trouble.
Does she get plenty of sunlight? I asked Claire. She looked at me as if I’d grown an extra head. It turns out she has some silly notion about keeping babies in the dark so as not to damage their sensitive eyes. This is England, I told her, not the African desert. No wonder she can’t distinguish between day and night! Take her for two walks each day, one in the early morning and one in the late afternoon and for goodness sakes let her get some sunlight on her skin.
I left her to digest this astonishing information while I got my jar of sleep tea from the kitchen. I always have some made up because I drink it myself most nights. It’s made from rose petals, lavender, chamomile and lemon balm. I grow all the herbs myself and then dry them. I like to keep an amethyst crystal in the jar too as it helps bring restful sleep and is protective as well.
I told Claire to drink the tea and it will come through her milk. That and some sunshine will see her baby right. I didn’t expect her to thank me as she left but she did. She almost choked on it but she thanked me just the same. Even at my age people still surprise me.’
Hattie’s Sleep Tea
1 part dried lavender flowers
1 part dried chamomile flowers
1 part dried lemon balm leaves
1 part dried rose petals
1 amethyst crystal (optional)
Add all herbs to a clean, dry glass jar and shake to distribute. Add the amethyst crystal if you like (after shaking or it may break).
Add one heaped teaspoon to a cup of boiling water and allow to infuse for 3-5 minutes. Add honey is desired.
For optimum benefits, drink 3-4 cups throughout the day.
If making the tea with fresh herbs from the garden, use 2 tsp per cup instead of 1 tsp.
Note – chamomile is a flower in the daisy family which some people are allergic to.
If symptoms do not improve, seek the guidance of a qualified health practitioner.
This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Please don’t sue me.
Free Tasty Treat!
Grab your free copy of ‘Beyond Marmalade’, your guide to salting and preserving citrus. Other recipes and gardening tips also sporadically included.