Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Of recent times

I don’t mean recent times in the news – xenophobia, threat of nuclear war, the arrogant spread of Mammon’s slime mould converting real resources into the vanity of money at a disheartening rate, the ever-widening gap between rich and poor sticking two fingers up at the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s all there, and it fills me with grief, even despair if I let it. But for now, for my sanity I’ve stepped back from it to look at the small and close-at-hand.

In our garden we’re coming on to “all is safely gathered in” time, blackberries, greengages, apples, pears and beans safely stashed in the freezer. Our beans did so well. We planted only a small row, half a dozen plants along a bed no more than four foot or so, growing up bamboo poles against the balustrade of our little deck (the back door is three foot higher than the garden, so we step out onto a deck, then three steps down to the garden). We’ve been eating them every day for several weeks, and had enough to freeze a few bags as well. We’re onto the last few now.

As well as things to eat, the fir cone harvest (brilliant kindling) has done us proud as well.



Then, in other matters, Our Alice and Hebe went to stay for a few days at Minster in Thanet to learn about making icons – an extra strand they have for some time intended to add to their daily work.

This was the result of a few days’ making:






Otherwise life continues as normal – writing, cooking, painting, stone-cutting, making music, cleaning, talking, thinking, praying – all the things we do. Humans, foxes, crows, badgers, seagulls - and of course, cats.




"For the divine spirit comes about his body to sustain it in complete cat." 

(from Christopher Smart's poem about his cat Jeoffry in Jubilate Agno)


Blessings on your day. xx

16 comments:

Fiona said...

Blessings back to you, Pen xxx

Pen Wilcock said...

:0)

xx

Elin Hagberg said...

I had to google greengages, that was not part of my vocabulary training. Once I saw a picture I knew what you meant. We sometimes pick some wild plums but this spring was cold and most of the blossoms died due to frost since I haven't seen a single plum in the tree this year. On a good year you can get a couple of jars of yellow plum jam from that tree though.

I live in an apartment so no garden for me. We do have red currants that grow in the yard outside our building that everyone can pick but I usually let them stay on the bush for the kids to eat. When they are near falling of the branches I have on occasion picked some to mix with wild raspberries in jam. I love that combo. This year I only picked enough to make a pie though so nothing in the freezer this year. We do have plenty of rhubarb though as we picked some from some relatives. I have also picked a big glass jar full of dried mushrooms, a mixture of different boletes, ceps and horse mushroom. I hope to pick some funnel chantarelles too maybe already this weekend but they might need a couple more weeks. I like mushroom picking but of course it does require some knowledge and a lot of caution. Thankfully one of the perks of living this far north is that some of the more poisonous mushrooms are rare and thus there is less risk of picking something dangerous. For example both destroying angel and death cap are almost non-existant here but we have some other amanitas and cortinarius that can cause some harm. I must say I long for having two kids that can move on their own in the forest soon as that could make it possible for more forest trips and more of nature's gifts for us but now Ingvar must be carried or sit in a stroller and we pick whatever we can find close to the road/path.

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah - I am keen to learn about harvesting wild fungi, but also feel apprehensive in case I pick the wrong one and kill us all. Only a week or two back, a friend kindly gave me a really excellent book for identifying fungi, so I intend to have a try.

Pen Wilcock said...

Also, next spring I plan to pick and dry/freeze nettles, which grow abundantly near us. We drink a lot of nettle tea, so it makes sense to preserve our own instead of buying teabags in a packet!

Elin Hagberg said...

Puffballs, boletes, ceps, parasol mushroom, chanterelles, hedgehog mushrooms are good beginner mushrooms. Learn 1-3 mushrooms well each season is a good rule as it does take time to learn all the characteristics. Mushrooms are just so much fun so go ahead and learn more. The best way to learn is if you have a friend who would go with you and show you how to find and identify things. A book is great but cannot compete with that.

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes - good ideas! The man who wrote the book lives near me, so maybe he is willing to teach beginners.

rebecca said...

"The small and close-at-hand" come with peace and purpose for me. I find the precious moment all I'm able to manage. Maybe all I'm MEANT to manage. I shall continually remind myself to live in the present and release the future to the One able to handle it....

As for mushrooms, I am content to purchase the the limited variety in our grocery's produce department and usually only those reduced in price due to overstock or nearness to their "expiration date"... :)

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah yes - but foraging is not only about saving money; it's also about awareness of our dependency on systems (having money to spend, the existence of shops, supply chains, transport) and exploring, while we have the support of that infrastructure, what our solutions might be should we have to manage without it. I hope I will always live in my family house with the supermarket at the end of the road, food on its shelves and money in the bank. But if things don't go according to plan, knowing where the mushrooms grow and which ones to pick could be handy. Good source of protein, easier than killing things.
And then there's the environmental impact of our infrastructure; learning to lessen our dependency on things done for us by machines - or industrially processed, packaged in plastic and brought from great distances - can be one of the small ways we reverence Earth and God who made her, and fulfil in some tiny way our trust as Earth's stewards.

Rachel marsh said...

Love those icons, glorious colours. I lived in Thanet for three years and visited Minster regularly, thanks for the reminder :-)

rebecca said...

I understand. :)
Sorry to give the impression that I don't. And right now with the natural disasters affecting both supply and transport, I have additional awareness (though little, I know, compared to you). What I meant mushrooms are not the hill on which I will die.
Meanwhile, I DO enjoy an occasional bowl of pigweed soup.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Rachel - how interesting! Thanet was new to me. I liked it - loved the monastery!

Hi Rebecca - Pigweed! I had to look it up! x

Julie B. said...

I would love to visit that monastery. And perhaps stay quite a while. And the gifts that have been bestowed on those daughters. So extraordinary. It's always a treat to read your thoughts and see little glimpses of your and your loved ones' lives, dear Ember. xoxo

Pen Wilcock said...

:0)

It was a treat to go there!

xx

Nearly Martha said...

And blessings on your Autumn evenings as well! We are enjoying closing the blinds on windy evenings and having a brew

Pen Wilcock said...

Waving! xx