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Posts Tagged ‘fall’

When I choose a word for Weekword, my choice is often based on what I’d like to see other people interpret; I rarely choose something because I’ve already had an idea for a post. This means I often find myself scrabbling around at the last moment trying to think of a post for my own word. But this choice was a bit different, because it came out of a thought I had on Monday.

We’ve been having pretty grotty weather here lately. It’s been chilly without that lovely autumn crispness. Drizzly rain that goes on and on, rather than downpours which fade into pale sunshine. Wet mist that doesn’t lift, just hangs around like a bad mood all day. When the weather’s like this, it’s easy to think that the outdoors is ‘nothingy’. It seems to be lacking – the temptation is to stay inside and ignore it. But sometimes that’s not possible (when one has a dog who needs walking and small people to get to school) and the outdoors must be faced.

I walked the Little Girl to the school bus on Monday, and turned to walk back to the house. My first instinct was to put my head down and get back through the grey drizzle as fast as I could, but something stopped me. Even on the greyest, most unprepossessing day, our little valley has something going for it.

The river wasn’t a low, clear trickle, singing its way over the stones as it is in summer, nor a thundering torrent as it is in winter. It flowed gently along, quietly, a thin brown like petrol station hot chocolate. The ground beneath my feet had gone to mud – in some places balletic leaps were required as I hadn’t worn wellies. There were no pleasant breezes or high winds, just a gentle buffeting which made leaves flump wetly from the trees. And the autumn leaves, without the sunshine to illuminate them, didn’t glow with that bright, joyous flame immortalised on all those photos of fall foliage. They glowed gently through the murk, like a fire banked down until the family return.

The elements – water, earth, air and fire – not in their pure, flamboyant state, but there nonetheless. Subdued and muted, perhaps, but not gone. Not nothingy.

I enjoyed the rest of my walk back to the house.

Why not go and see what the other Weekworders have come up with this week?

Margot

Natalie

Katy

Emma

John

Genskie

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Well, compared to last year’s flurry of preserving, we’re very quiet this year. Our apple trees seem to take one year on, one year off, and this is an off year. My polytunnel was invaded by red spider mite, so I have no tomatoes or courgettes. But through the wonders of Freecycle, I got hold of some damsons. Well, lots of damsons.

I wanted to make some jam. Last time I made damson jam, I believed the recipe when it said blithely that you didn’t need to stone them, just scrape the stones off as it cooked. Well, that might work for a small batch but not for a big one. By the time I got the blinking stones out, the jam had overboiled and set like a rock. So this year, I decided to stone them. I don’t have a cherry stoner. I did have several kilos of plums. Stoning them with a knife was going to take ages and, I realised, waste half the fruit because the stones weren’t coming away cleanly.

So I cheated. Damsons onto baking trays, like this:

and into the oven (at about 150C) for 10 minutes or so, so they look more like this:

This made them much easier to destone. I made the jam, which is stashed away in the larder. It’s not my year for perfect damson jam – the damsons were quite tanniny (they were all windfalls, so they were ripe – maybe it’s the variety?) so the jam is probably one to have with cheese rather than on toast. Still, onwards and upwards!

The good thing about the tannins is that I also made some damson gin. I imagine the tannins will be very effective there. Damson gin is lovely – not as popular as the ubiquitous sloe gin, but I like it just as much. Recipes vary – I use about half the weight of sugar to damsons. My proportions are something like: one pound fruit to half a pound sugar to just over a pint of gin (not very scientific, but that’s what my jars hold). I don’t stone the damsons, just prick them all over and put them in the jars, followed by the sugar, then top up with gin. I give it a good shake, and shake a couple of times a day until all the sugar’s dissolved. It won’t be ready for a good while, but it’s already looking promising:

Yum yum!

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