Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Fall comes fiercely knocking
The wind is swirling as only the Mistral winds can do. My stone house clings to the ground, but dreams of sailing off to OZ fill my nights. I can sing this sound of the wind, as it buffets my windows and shakes and rattles the doors. It invigorates and sends me to bed at night feeling I've done a major day's work. But have I?
Now that the tourism season has come to a close (but for possible chocolate/truffle requests in the next few months) I have time on my hands. I return to my role as mother, home-maker, gardener and contemplate what next. There's a good translation on the horizon -- Joel Durand, the chocolatier, has his book to be put into English, and so I'll likely have that shortly in my hands; and there are house projects -- re-do the walls of Leo's room, build the chicken coop, and hopefully get a proper heavy wooden shutter between the north-side terrace and my single-paned glass/iron door onto the kitchen.
There is also my project for the school: to design a welcome/cultural adaptation program for visiting (and perhaps settling) Anglo-saxons. I await only the green light. I am also the new designated liason between Leo's teacher and the other parents. A meeting or two to be as yet scheduled.
I've been to the local farm to pick up extra cases of tomatoes for sauce -- and chopped, sweated, simmered and prepared jars for the season. I'm tempted to see if there are any more. Home-made sauce from truly ripe tomatoes is simply a thousand times better than using even quality/organic canned crushed tomatoes. Just no comparison. Hmmm
And of course bread was baked (as per my recipe in the post from February 2009. I've new takers now for my multi-grain, slow-rising loaves. They please at a certain home in Nîmes, and they serve as a thank you to my good friend who helps me every Monday to cope on Leo's tennis lesson, receiving both Jonas and our newest boarder for afternoon snacks till I come and pick them up.
Some chocolate muffins - as per my classic recipe with turned raw milk, baking soda and some mashed squash (from the garden) to moisten them. I also added 1/4 cup dark cocoa and switched from normal sugar to a rapadura brown sugar. Theme and variations is the name of the game.
Time for more syrup as well. The mint and elderflower from the spring are long gone. My year's yield of Lemon Verbena needs to be harvested. It won't last the winter (though the plant will, brown and sad-looking in the corner of my garden till green leaves emerge next spring). Blended with some garden mint and lemon slices it will be that little extra to get us through the next couple of months. Here again, I follow a standard recipe of 1:1 (1 kilo to 1 litre) sugar to water, bring it to a boil, turn it off and add my leaves and lemon slices. Leave to infuse overnight and then bring back to a boil and pour through a sieve into my bottles. When you banish sodas and juices from concentrate from your house, it is nice to offer a delicious alternative.
What leaves do not go into the syrup I will dry and use for winter herbal teas.
It's just that time of year. I feel the passage of seasons shifting all my rhythms, driving me to re-organize, plan, adjust, fix. I feel like a bear in need of collecting his winter stores and so live till another spring arrives. I've lit fires in my cast iron stove all day yesterday and today. I'll need to go and collect a few more cords of wood. My tomato plants still laden with fruit quite green are struggling in this wind. I've righted them twice now. Hoping?
Jonas and I are reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy now. The chapters on harvesting and preparing for their long Northern New York winter resonate in me. However, I've not 5 hogs and a steer to butcher, no need to make my own candles from suet, nor shall I be filling the root cellar with potatoes, apples, carrots and such. I can rely on the neighborhood farm to have these for me till at least late January. But I'm hunkering down all the same.
Yesterday saw me preparing my missive to the world from Provence, and updating my web site. Time to re-arrange, adjust, improve, tweak. And time to say thank you to the many who came and toured with me in Provence this year.
As I worked on that HTML code, re-wrote sections, etc., my friend who's helping me build a chicken coop as a trade for being my dance partner for a tango workshop came by and together we devoted the rest of the afternoon to digging, afixing, preparing, and finally to pouring some cement along the trenches (to keep out the foxes). Little by little it is taking form. Though I'll likely wait till spring for my chickens -- caring for them through a cold winter can wait till I'm more experienced.
And yourselves? Where does this change of seasons find you? What rhythms shift and adjust, or are you in lives more adapted to the 21st century, un-ceasing rhythms that ignore these outside changes and simply keep you moving forward? It's been years now that I've lived the tourism and seasonal calendar. Myself who had no idea what was in season when during my childhood in suburban New York am now deeply attached to these cycles. I suppose I am odd now. Perhaps one of the reasons I so love the Little House books. Reconnecting with a time when the seasons dominated lives, when man was wise and skilled and worked with what was before him, even to collecting all the wild berries in the forest, all the beechnuts fallen from the trees.