Updated: Feb 10
It’s been really wet and windy on the island, which on the one hand is lovely as it’s filling up our water reserves, but on the other, well, it’s raining. Island living is like that, and silver linings has been a theme this week: both girls have been off school with a bug, one at a time, so although I haven’t been able to get much soap made, I have been able to enjoy lots of cuddle time with them individually, a very special thing. I can count on one hand the times my twins have been apart, and I’ve really enjoyed having each of them to myself for a little while, and then seeing their joy when they’re reunited at the end of the school day.
All the cuddling on the couch gave me lots of time to browse through a few books – including Big Dreams, Daily Joys, which I think I’ve written about before. It’s by Elise Blaha Cripe and I highly recommend it and her blog, which you can find at ELISE JOY. I have a look through it when I can’t imagine how I will ever get anything done (work, hobbies) in among all the stuff I have to do (family life), and suddenly I find that five minutes while waiting for the kettle to boil can actually be the most productive five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes of my day.
I spent longer daydreaming with salt sugar smoke, a book about preserving fruit, vegetables, meat and fish by Diana Henry. I had pulled this out because of an Instagram post I’d seen about making rose hip syrup, by @clouded.silver, and I was looking for a recipe.
The weather has brought many challenges, but it has also brought an abundance, and while our garden constantly struggles from a lack of attention there are still strawberries to be found under the Triffid-like weeds and the rose hips are bountiful, flashing an almost unseemly crimson among the leaves. Inspired by these garnet jewels and the simplicity and delight of Henry’s recipes, when the rain eased on Sunday we went foraging.
We have been collecting and eating field mushrooms for months, a truly magical and unexpected harvest this late in the year. I am hoping to preserve these last ones and enjoy their meaty earthiness when the winter gales threaten to carry us away and we need to feel connected to the ground, too heavy to move with tummies full of good, big, old-fashioned steak and mushroom pie.
We carried home buckets of sloes (gin!) and brambles (more pie! Jam!) and stuffed our pockets full of hazelnuts. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with these, but we cracked and ate some after dinner, more than half of which we’d grown ourselves, and I felt so blessed just to be able to do that.
The year is turning, and autumn is here, and as I start to take stock of what’s been achieved and what’s still to be done, it feels like there’s definitely more silver than cloud.