The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness has drawn to a close. The season of perpetual rain has begun. The fruits of the wild fig in the field have ripened, exploded and fed the hornets. We are still waiting on the domesticated figs to make up their minds. Two inches of rain, at least, has fallen since last Sunday. Yesterday it was not safe to drive, the rain fell so hard.
The plums, apples and pears have been the joy of the ewes for many weeks now, as have the chestnuts and acorns. A varied diet is good for all. The humans (that is A³ plus Michelle) have had a good harvest of champignons also.(I do wish I could find an adequate translation for that word. Mushrooms will not do, for they are not all field mushrooms (agarics) nor will 'toadstools' with its overtones of poison).
|Just a glimpse of this winter's stores.|
|Apple juice anyone?|
|And this is last winter's jam!|
But this year, I sit here, rather smugly – for I am not being bullied by the 'mellow fruitfulness'; I do not have to pot/jam/freeze or otherwise conserve anything. Alexandre braved the wrath of the sheep and collected many kilos of apples for pressing into juice (and that after depriving them of most of their plums!) Audrey has made enough tomato coulis to keep the local McDonalds in sauce for a few days. And there is green tomato jam.
Arnold had a rush of blood to the head when he saw Alexandre's sacks of apples and remembered he had taken away our aged barrel of 'cider' more years ago than we can remember. It was our first attempt to process the abundant apple harvest. We took the apples to the local trout farm at Lisle – now a very distinguished river-side restaurant called Le Moulin de l'Isle – where they were washed in fish-water, then crushed. The resulting filtered juice was put into our 50 litre oak barrel. And that was that. The bung was in as was the wooden tap. We never managed to get either to open which is why Arnold took the barrel away. It is now soaking in the gentle rain so that its staves will swell, ready for next year's juice.
Ah well, I like rain! I like walking in the fields, protected by my boots from evil, biting arthropods. I like kicking away the leaf and twig dams in the newly born stream so that the water rushes through to the lake. I like what the rushing water reveals, the fossils, the broken coloured quartz stones – the odd golf ball. I am happy in the wet. Especially as there is always a fire in the range to dry me.