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Patti Cowger

At this time of year, I switch from my winter, morning routine to my spring-summer-fall, morning routine. I get up an hour earlier, fix my warm turmeric drink (recipe to follow), and head to my backyard. I don’t sit and read the paper or catch up on emails like I do in the winter, but turn on my garden fountain and the water hose instead. I hand-water my plants — the ones in pots as well as in the ground.

Yes, I do have a drip system but I enjoy my little ritual. My neighborhood is very quiet no matter the season but at 6 o’clock in the morning, the silence is gloriously loud. It’s sprinkled only with the soft trickle of my fountain, the cooing of doves and the chirping of sparrows who live in my tall, pittosporum bushes. This pittosporum variety is called “tenuifolium” or “screenmaster.” Mine are about 15 feet high and enclose my yard on three sides. It’s a beautiful way to hide fences and create privacy.

I guess you could call my morning routine a form of meditation. The key is being in tune with my surroundings and breathing it all in.

I designed my backyard in a semi-formal, French garden style. That is, I first laid it out on a grid and drew four symmetrical pathways (pea gravel) with ball-shaped pittosporum (aka “Korean balls”) and white flowering plants inside the quadrants. The pathways are bordered by a patio, an arbor, a prolific lemon tree and ferns.

It’s a white garden with azaleas, gardenias, jasmine, potted geraniums, bacopa, lantana, and million bells. I’ve always liked white gardens because they light up at night with the help of the moon

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Spending my mornings as I do sets my mood for the day. If I’m lucky, the mood is not quickly derailed. In fact, this calmness and clarity came in handy one day last week. I met with a client who had just that day to select tile for her new home. No problem. We chose 12 tiles, two slabs of quartz and a variety of grout colors for three bathrooms and a kitchen in two hours. In fact, it was just shy of two hours and not a single instance of settling just to meet a deadline.

My turmeric drink contributes to my restorative, meditative routine. It’s thought to relieve internal inflammation and lower blood pressure. I’m okay with this thought even if it turns out to be psychosomatic. This drink is also known as “golden milk” but I’ve tweaked it a bit. In a small sauce pan, mix one teaspoon of turmeric powder, one teaspoon of cinnamon, one teaspoon of coconut oil, two dashes of black pepper, and one cup of milk. I use almond or coconut milk. Heat the mixture until it comes to a simmer. I drink it with a straw so that the turmeric doesn’t yellow my teeth.

All of my spices are organic although I don’t know what that truly means. But since I drink this every day, and since the idea is to make it healthy, I opt for organic and hope for the best. It’s important that the coconut oil is unrefined and that you add the pepper. Both ingredients help you to absorb the turmeric.

If you want to give it a try, you might start with a quarter of a teaspoon of the spices as they may be hard on your stomach at first. Then, gradually build up to a teaspoon. If my potion does not sound delicious, you could add unsweetened cocoa powder and/or maple syrup.

Here’s to your health and to your garden and whatever aids your restorative powers and guides your daily decisions.

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Patti L. Cowger is an award-winning, Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net or follow @plcinteriors.