The geese are splashing about in the water trough, splattering my kitchen window and having a marvelous time. Down in the shed I hear the whirring of the buffing machine as Bear works on my helmet, modifying it to be a medieval Kipchak one. It’s looking so good and I can’t wait to wear it.
It’s wonderfully fresh and cool this morning, with good, strong breezes that send our windmill whirling, filling up our tanks so we have plenty of water for animals, gardens, and orchards. We just finished breaky – toasted triple cream brie and strawberry jam sandwiches – and finally got to taste-test the cherry port and peach sherry brews we made last week. They are delicious!! Fruity and fragrant but not too sweet. We strained and bottled them all and now have lusciously boozy fruit to spoon over vanilla ice cream in the days to come.
Last week was a rough one as I dealt with viral conjunctivitis in both eyes, and a venomous insect bite that made my right foot swollen, fiery, and painful. There’s nothing like not being able to see or walk properly to slow life down and give me treasured time to rest. So I did. Naps and snoozes, audio books and time to simply lay there and think. It was just what I needed to help me refocus for 2018, and clarify what I want to do and learn and experience this year. As my eyes cleared up, I got back to my writing and my art, jotting down lists and ideas, sketching out plans for gardens and projects. Sometimes I think that half the fun of things is the planning and anticipation.
By the weekend I was feeling almost human again, so Bear and I got in the car and drove to visit our friends, Doug and Avis, and pick up a load of hay. I swap hay for weeding, which is such a great trade. I get hay to mulch our gardens and orchards, and I get to spend hours chatting with Avis while we yank weeds and chop unruly grasses that try to sneak in.
Doug and Avis never let us go home empty handed, and this time was no different. They gave us a whole box of pickling onions, massive bulbs of Russian garlic, beetroots, cucumbers, and zucchini. Avis and I scoured the tangle of bean vines and emerged with a bucket of tender green beans. Such wonderful gifts.
My favourite part was heading into their fig orchard and picking one perfectly ripe fig after another. They’re so beautiful and fragrant and I’m excited to make Chia Seed Fig Jam, Roasted Figs with Mascarpone, and Fig Frangipane Tart. Mmm, mmm.
Sunday we got to drive over the mountains and spend the day at the Brisbane River with a bunch of our Viking friends. It was a hot but gorgeous day and we had such a great time swapping stories, reminiscing, and sharing plans for the new medieval season. The food was amazing, roasted sausages and all sorts of delicious cold salads, and it was such a great way to kick off the 2018 medieval season.
On the way home we stopped at a roadside market having a super deal on gorgeous cherries and super sweet watermelon. We stocked up and have been treasuring every delicious bite.
Yesterday was my day off, and it arrived with a break in the heatwave that’s been knocking us flat. It was sheer bliss to wake up to cold air blowing in the windows, and I celebrated with a mug of hot chocolate while I kept warm under a quilt.
I spent some very happy hours in the gardens, pulling out old plants and giving the others a good soaking. I found all sorts of self-seeded plants – borage and feverfew, tomatoes and hollyhocks – and I’m excited to see them flourish.
Today is a Use Up All The Harvest day, grating zucchini and freezing it to add to soups in Autumn, thinly slicing cucumbers for Scandinavian-style pickles, roasting beetroot and sweet potatoes, frying up leeks and freezing them to add to eggs, fried potatoes, and salads.
I’m so thankful for all this bounty, such good things to nourish and fortify us for the work we have to do.
What are your favourite summer fruits and vegetables? xo