A Year on Ozolini: January

This year, we want to give you, our dear readers, an intimate look at the family who makes Lauku Tea, the Lukina family, and their life on Ozolini farm in Latvia. Every month, Evita herself, the current steward of Ozolini farm, will write to us and share her stories of family, artisanship, and sustainable farming as the seasons change throughout the year. Even though English is not her first language, she's a beautiful writer—you'll love her stories! She'll share photos and videos too, and we welcome you to share your comments or questions for Evita either on our Facebook page or by sending us an email. She'll be happy to answer them.

So without further delay, here is what January was like on Ozolini farm.

 

 
Lauku Tea // A Year on Ozolini: January

January, 2017

The first step is the hardest. So, the journey begins with the first step taken. 

It’s no problem to set a goal or decide that you will pursue your dream, as this doesn’t require from you action. And I know all about that — it took me 3 years to quit the office job and join our family business of producing organic herbal teas. The toughest part is the moment you must start to do actual work, to take action.

This first blog entry is the first step towards the year long journey together with you my dear reader. You are very kindly invited to be a part of a change in nature, our tea-growing life cycle, and the rhythm of our life throughout a year here at farm Ozolini (Little Oaks). My blog will be accompanied with photos taken by my dear friend and photographer Agneses Aljenas. She is the one who sees Ozolini through the lens of her camera to the tiniest detail true. 

Except this month.

When I wrote these first paragraphs I had no clue about the year is ahead of us. Now I know that sometimes you are not given a courtesy of choice to make the first step or not. There are times you must do what’s needed on the spot. January 6th stroke us unexpected. We found out that Martins, my husband and earth axis of our whole family, is seriously ill. There is a brain tumor to fight with. As we entered the battle, and our first win a successful surgery, there was no time for proper photoshoot, or anything else we planned in our lives.

Here is the view from the house to the fields where we grow peppermint, oregano, thyme, lemon balm and calendula.

Here is the view from the house to the fields where we grow peppermint, oregano, thyme, lemon balm and calendula.

But we snuck out to Ozolini, to our place of strength, just before the surgery. It was a grey day, but you can still see the peace and silence of Latvia’s nature during wintertime in the few cell phone photos we took.

There are long-gone years of my childhood where we had proper winters from December til March. We live in a region with very distinct seasons. But nowadays in Latvia there is a lot more change over the period of Winter. As expected, we get days and weeks full of snow and temperatures well below 0º, especially in the place where our farm is located, but there is equally periods with all the snow melted and temperatures well above 0º.

On this day, we got somewhere in between.

Lote, Martins and Miks returning from walk. All three dogs follow us step in step.

Lote, Martins and Miks returning from walk. All three dogs follow us step in step.

Walks are an important part of our family recreation. Ever since I learned that walking in the forest is the new yoga (read about it here), I take our walks with even more presence and appreciation.

Brigita finds lots of joy in Nordic walking over Wintertime, as it provides not only additional exercise but also stability on often icy roads around the farm. But Dima and Martins are the experts of forest walks. They can vanish in woods for hours, and all three dogs faithfully follow them. It's impossible to sneak out of our yard without the guidance of our dogs. Even volunteers we host at the farm in the Summer get new shadows in the form of our dogs.

Our dogs leading the way down the forest road: Emma, Muša (means fly in Latvian), and the big one is Sisis.

Our dogs leading the way down the forest road: Emma, Muša (means fly in Latvian), and the big one is Sisis.

There are two places on Ozolini especially dear to me: our forest lake and the oldest Oak. The name of the lake is Bottomless Lake and only the bravest dare to swim there. It's a swap lake with a muddy bottom and brownish water. I call it also Tea Lake as the water has soaked in the healing properties of all the herbs growing around it. To have a swim there is a blessing any day during our short Summer.

The view of Bottomless Lake.

The view of Bottomless Lake.

The oldest Oak has about 300 years on his shoulder, which is also about the time the first people started to care for the lands surrounding the current Ozolini house. The Oak grew in an open field, thus spreading his branches wide open, but is now surrounded by forest and is hidden from eyes of inattentive observer.

The Oak has an ear and one of the branches has grown in a shape of Little Buddha, so whenever I have a questions or story to tell I pay a visit to him.

Here's the branch of the oldest Oak. Can you find a shape of Little Buddha? 

Here's the branch of the oldest Oak. Can you find a shape of Little Buddha? 

January is the month of reflection. Nature and all her beauty takes some time to relax. For us on Ozolini, it's the time when we still actively make mixtures of tea, package it and deliver to the shops, both locally and to you internationally. 

Our biggest lesson of life this month was that you must live everyday as this might be the last day on the planet Earth. Show your love for people around you openly and limitlessly, and enjoy every little detail of your life — a walk, a conversation with your kids, a family breakfast, little tours and trips and even a cup of tea shared in silence. Appreciate these little miracles of life.

Hugs and bućas,
Evita

Lauku Tea Blog