A China Royalty Gift for Father's Day
by Vennie Chou
Every spring I wait for the “Spring Thunder and Lightning “. When I was a kid, I was told by my po-po ( grand ma) that the Spring thunder and lightning wake up all the insects and animals from hibernations. Humidity and heavy rain follow after the Spring thunder, and it is usually in June, Father’s Day month.
Coming from a tropical city, I experienced those heavy rain... and those annoying mosquitoes and black flies and many pests insects. In many traditions, people would throw copper metals, like copper pennies in ponds and wishing wells. By doing so, mosquitoes would not lay eggs in those ponds and waters, as the eggs would not survive. During this period in China, for thousands of years, people would hang wormwood outside their doors and windows to keep the pesty mosquitoes and bugs out. People made and carry sachets and pouches so they would not be bitten by the bugs, as sometimes the bugs often carry diseases. In fact, the sachets were given to the empresses by the emperor in history to protect the Chinese royals.
Father’s Day is just around the corner, and many fathers like to go fishing or hiking , golfing or other outdoor activities. I would like to share this recipe containing the herbs that are used traditionally in sachets to keep one from insect bites. Insects do not like the scents of these herbs...in fact, some says insects are afraid of these plants.
Here is what I put in my sachets: (10 grams of each herb)
Wormwood ( 艾草）
Cloves ( 丁香）
I put all these dried herbs in a blender and ground them into smaller pieces/ powders. I stuff the grinds in a sachet. The blend smells so beautiful... it is subtle with a hint of joy ( from the peppermint). This is a much better choice than the chemical insect spray.
Fathers can carry the sachets in their pockets. In addition, one can smoke these herbs to keep bugs away when outdoor. Amazingly, most of these herbs are harvested during this Spring rain time. It is almost a gift from Mother Nature for us to use.
I made a big sachet for my father and I placed it in a pouch made from Fish leather... Process of tanning fish leather is a very old technique and does not use toxic chemicals. Fish leather is tanned using tannins ( often use teas and tree bark, like cedar). The leather can be dyed using berries and plants. I collect fish skins from restaurant wastes（ saved for me by chefs) when I need them.
I hope this can inspire everyone and making that human-plant connections! I wish all the fathers a healthy and fun day on Father’s Day!
Authors are gardening and essential oils experts in a variety of categories including distillation, plants healing and cleansing properties.