Growing up on Long Island has created a deep lagoon of nostalgic, maritime memories & romantic stories that reoccur like the tides of The Great South Bay. They evoke salty, summertime stories that last generations & they ebb forever with coming of the harvest moon. When summer rolls around the one product we look forward to reformulating is our Surfer Soap. This all natural, wild crafted, light castile soap is far from simple.
The very nature of nature is its unpredictability & from year to year, although most things can be count on, you just never know what plants will grow in the places we trek to. One year we may have harvested beach goldenrod near the bayside beaches of our very hometown but the next, it will pop up on the other side of the dunes. Where we thought Pine Barrens golden heather would be growing is now an empty sand wash. It is this very idea that we founded our Surfer Soap on - that every year the aromatic formulation will be different & directly in tune with the natural world of Long Islands coastal environments.
When the weather breaks & summer peaks it's head over the horizon with it's huge, sunny smile, we are out there on the hunt for glorious aromatics. Ready for the bloom that is coming in full blown, floral explosion that will sweeten the air & brighten the landscape. There is a short window for this & our schedule is carefully executed so not to miss these precious & wonderful days in a season so loved & one that is so quick. One the first few days, like the busiest of bees, we are attracted to the soft , sweet scented breezes blowing inland from the coast. They takes me back to my childhood, back to afternoons spent beach combing with my family in Montauk, back to when the hour and a half drive felt like a week long road trip. Oh yeah...we are on the hunt for wild rose. This is very invasive rose from eastern Asia & although it is considered noxious here on LI, it is one of the the most beautiful & cherished scents come springtime. Distilling this is nearly impossible due the fragile nature of the scarce oils within it's petals. We have spent many years trying many techniques with so many flowers & this year using enfleurage & vacuum extraction we have harnessed this amazingly subtle note.
As the days creep closer towards summer, we can always count on the ol' faithfuls. The plants & trees we use in so many of our products. Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) grows almost anywhere there is an open field. Most people know it's smell from their cedar closets but we know it for its soft, resinous, herbal like notes that comes form the distillation of its leaves. This along with common juniper are the backbone of our Surfer Soap & they create a complex, aromatic tapestry to build things like beach goldenrod, mugwort & bayberry upon.
Long days harvesting near the ocean is a dream life, an almost permanent vacation. We take the time to "smell the roses" (bad pun!) every so often & the view is always familiar but never less astounding. Our Atlantic Ocean - that seemingly, endless blue. It has always evoked images of foreign lands & travel to places unseen. When we peer into that wonderful waterscape, we are looking out towards the Caribbean Sea & eventually we hit landfall in South America. It is always a great conversation starter sitting on our towels taking a break for lunch. The sound of breakers crashing on the shoreline sets the mood with a natural soundtrack.
Our journey to make our Surfer Soap is rich with so many memories & that is our driving force in bringing it to the bottle. When I was a kid I remember searching for hours in the rocks & jetty's of east end of LI. I was looking for an little critter I could lay my eyes on. One thing that I always loved was the way the seaweed, clinging to the rocks, swayed & danced with the moving waters. There were so many different varieties - red, green, brown, hairy, leafy & finger-like. All these years later it is an amazing thought to know that somehow that connection has been made from those rocks to our final product. We infuse many different types of seaweed into our soap bases for their fortifying & nourishing elements (they also add that sweet, ocean water aroma).
Now that summer is almost here so is our newest Surfer Soap.
Up at this elevation the bug didn't infect the firs. This was a comforting thought but a fleeting one because soon to follow was the impending knowledge that some day, in the not so distant future, the climate would warm just enough for those bastards to make their ways to these healthy stands.
For me wild crafting is a ritual. Its a study of myself & what it means to be part of the natural world. In a nutshell, it means I go into the wilderness, whether it be the grand wilds of America or the local ones in my backyard, & I get dirty.
The thing to consider is that there isn't as much plant diversity here as there is on the west coast for example, and this is something to really think about because this means that these plants & trees have existed here for thousands of years, undisturbed by serious adaptation.