There's a sense of satisfaction won from putting your own vegetables on your own plate - I guess the same must be true about making furniture (or a house even) from your own timber or raising stock or poultry to feed your family. You have been involved in its production. The end result has involved your own hard labour. It has mattered. I am reminded of 'The Farmer's Arms' - 'God Speed the Plough'.
Let the Wealthy & Great,This week I have mostly been dealing with the abundance of fruit and vegetables from garden and hedgerow and thanking the Great God of Deep-Freezing. Big ugly-sweet tomatoes have been simmered down with onion, garlic, herbs and seasoning to a rich gloopy sauce redolent of summer - to be savoured over pasta perhaps on a dark winter's day. Berries of all colours have been jellied. Their flavours intense and tangy - fine to set alongside a roast or game bird, the sharpness a perfect foil to a rich, maybe bloody, meat. We eat and give away those vegetables best eaten fresh, others are frozen. The pantry shelves are lined with shiny jars, labeled with what-where-when. I'm having more of those 'pioneer wife' moments - anticipating the coming cold and the failure of the wagon train to bring in much needed 'vittals'. Pretty soon I'll be eyeing up the neighbouring cows in case the children need leather for shoes....
Roll in Splendour and State,
I envy them not I declare it.
I eat my own Lamb,
My Chickens and Ham,
I shear my own Fleece & I wear it
I have Lawns, I have Bow'rs,
I have Fruits, I have Flow'rs.
The lark is my morning alarmer.
So jolly Boys now,
Here's God Speed the Plough
Long Life and Success to the Farmer.
Onions, red and white, are racked in the garage - as is garlic. Potatoes are waiting to be bagged and stored. This sorry bucketful will be cooked up and frozen as mash à la Delia - except these will not be 'Aunt Bessie's frozen Homestyle mashed potatoes' - they will be mine.
The little trees in the orchard - now in its 4th year - are laden with fruit. (Bless 'em.) Winter vegetables will remain in situ. I am already planning where next year's crops will go and onions are to be planted fairly soon.
This is not a boasting-book of what we have grown - more a catalogue of amazement and wonder at what a handful of seeds can produce. I am also aware that what is perhaps a hobby for me was once a necessity and that without the summer's harvest a family could face a lean winter.
So it is with this in mind I reflect that it is a good earth isn't it? Fruitful, generally benevolent and for the most part forgiving. For this, sing praises.