I tell my son tales of the fairies who tend to nature’s garden. They coax out the spring buds with ancient songs and sweet promises of sunshine. They paint the landscape in flowers and compose the birdsongs and the hum of the bees and dragonflies.
There are the fairies who watch over our vegetable gardens, encouraging the roots to dig deep, the fruit to swell, and the honey to burst from the hives. There are fairies who cast spells on the clouds to quench the sunbaked earth and call out to the winter for mercy when the icy darkness has become too much to bear.
I want the earth to be a magical place for my little one, so I tell him these tales with wide-eyed animation and a practiced melodic tone that I hope will plant them into his memory forever.
One of our favorite family hikes is Skyline trail. For the past two summers our boy has been but a passenger, but this year, on his sturdy, 2-and-a-half-year-old legs, he is finally capable of climbing portions of it on his own and does so with determined (adorable) enthusiasm, stopping to pick nearly every flower and greet every butterfly.
We always aim to make it to the saddle so we can visit our fairy friend who lives there — a set of small ceramic figures some wonderful soul left hidden among the trees just off the trail.
We found the fairy on her swing last summer and since then have made many visits to her shaded abode to have our lunch with her and chat. We must spend a good while there while my son carries her and gazes at her with sparkling eyes and presses her to his cheek — he loves her so.
To whoever left that delightful surprise, thank you for helping me make his world magical.
The next time we visit I think I’ll bring along something special — this sweet and versatile lemon “tea” syrup — because everyone knows fairies love gifts of sweet things.
Korean Citron Tea
2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 cup hot water
Canning equipment to hold about 2 pints
Sanitize all of the canning equipment in boiling water, remove the jars and allow them to air dry upright, keeping the lids and rings in the hot water.
Wash your lemons thoroughly with baking soda and water. You will not be removing the peels so it is very important that they are clean.
Slice your lemons with your sharpest knife as thinly as possible, paper thin, and place in a large mixing bowl.
If you want to use a mandolin, I urge caution and the use of protective eyewear … trust me, this comes from experience. Remove all the seeds as you go.
Pour the sugar over the sliced lemons and mix until evenly coated. The sugar will melt and form a syrup.
In a separate bowl, whisk together your honey and hot water and set aside.
Distribute the lemons and syrup evenly into your canning jars, filling up to about 2 inches from the top.
Pour your honey over the lemons in each jar to fill. Wipe the rims clean before lidding.
Boil in a shallow water bath for 10 minutes, remove the jars and allow to cool completely.
Keep in the pantry for up to a year. Once opened, store in the refrigerator for as long as it lasts — in this house it’s gone in a day or two.
Hot: Scoop two heaping teaspoons into a mug and fill with hot water. Stir often to keep the lemons off the bottom.
Cold: Fill a tall glass with ice and scoop two heaping teaspoons over the ice. Pour in cold sparkling water and gently stir.
This also makes an amazing addition to teas — ginger or green teas are excellent options, or maybe to enhance your Earl Grey.
Eat the lemon slices at the end if you wish, I always do.