Self Preservation

The skies are intense at the moment. This morning there was a darkly luminous grey. A few days ago there was a dawn of the most startling fuchsia which had me prancing around the garden in my dressing gown. When I wake in the wee small hours I find stars so startlingly bright that I linger at the bathroom window until my feet are frozen.

On our walks Lyra and I are thoroughly wind buffeted and I have occasionally resorted to the hat from Peru with ear flaps. Thank God there are no paparazzi photographers lurking in the hedge. We see deer on almost every trip out at the moment. Standing on the rise of the hill, looking down at the deer running parallel to the trees in the field below two days ago, in a strange trick of the afternoon light it seemed as though the does were running through the air above the tree line. All that was missing was Santa in his sledge. The leaves are falling thick and fast but, curiously, the scrog apples are still hanging on tightly. Mushrooms are springing up everywhere now. Tom seems to have started a fungus farm on some old logs. Lachlan is reluctant to eat the specimens to be found in the wild, wisely, so is growing his own in a Tupperware container.

On Thursday, the scattering of rusty red leaves on the bare fields made me think of gingerbread so Auntie Zee’s recipe was rooted out and the pages unstuck (treacle…). Collecting the sultanas without my glasses on let to an unexpected substitution of sour cherries. Consumer feedback thus far is good though. (The recipe can be found via the home page). In other preserving news an experiment to make ketchup with the green tomatoes worked rather well (recipe also loaded). I was minded to make more but Keith has bagged the remaining ones for chutney.

The flowers I cut for drying over the summer have been brought in now. Various batches of pot pourri have been mixed and sent to friends as a “dismal weather cheerer upper”. The co-op has, annoyingly, stopped selling its croissants (which are excellent) in paper bags and now they come in clear plastic containers. Not so good for the environment, but they do make excellent postal pot pourri containers. Today I settled down to make up some dried flower arrangements for the house. The key, I always think, to a smart looking arrangement is having something suitably leafy or frothy to fill in the inevitable gaps between the more structural elements. In dried flower world alchemilla mollis and acchilea completely fit the bill. My garrett is now filled with the slightly tangy smell of dried flowers. As a child I positively loathed this smell but now I rather enjoy its complexity – this seems to be the olfactory equivalent of anchovies and green olives, something to grow into.

Sad news of an old London friend recently has made me rather thoughtful. Johnny was one of life’s great enthusiasts and threw himself into everything with gusto. It strikes me that in the end a life is measured in the did’s not in the didn’t’s, and taking time to enjoy what we can when we can (rather than fretting about what we can’t) is the best way forward. So I’m going to be unashamedly arty farty and end with a much loved bit of Andrew Marvel.

Let us roll all our strength and all 
Our sweetness up into one ball, 
And tear our pleasures with rough strife 
Through the iron gates of life: 
Thus, though we cannot make our sun 
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

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