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22 September 2008

Working with the seasons

Well, here he is - Hanno admiring the view when I took him out to lunch on his birthday. We met up with Bernadette at an "English pub" in a town up in the mountains. The food was good and the view from the top of the mountains down to the ocean was superb, but the price of the lunch and drinks was what we would normally pay for a week's food. We both wondered later if it was worth it. My guess is it wasn't. Maybe next year we'll do something different.

Hanno asked me to pass on his thanks for all the thoughtful birthday wishes. It is still amazing to us both that there are unseen friends all over the world who know what we do most days. Ahhh, the wonders of the internet.

One of the many pleasures I have found in simplicity is a rediscovery of the seasons. I no longer try to block out or ignore seasonal weather, trying to make everyday the same with air conditioning, I embrace the seasons now and work according to them. Yesterday I spent the day writing but had short breaks to do the seasonal chores that couldn't wait. Our storm season started early and the past two nights we've had wild and loud thunder that sounded like bowling balls rumbling along then crashing into a wall of light. On those nights the heat builds up and then breaks with rain falling and cooler air. On that first stormy night, still warming wrapped in my winter bed, I knew the next day would bring a transition to a summer bed.

Sure enough, the next morning, I opened up the windows wide and stripped the bed completely. I removed Hanno's electric blanket and rolled it up around a pillow for safe storage during the summer, then took the bed protector off and washed it with the sheets. This is the season for cool pure cotton sheets. My flannel cotton sheets are now washed, line dried and folded in the linen cupboard until the seasons change again.

I also removed our wool doona (duvet) and replaced it with a fluffy lighter one that will do us over summer.

I went back to writing for a while until Hanno brought in a small basket of windfall lemons. The storms have started to pick the lemon tree for us, and when we have a lot of lemons, I make summer cordial.

About six or seven lemons gave enough juice for a flagon of cordial. It's a simple recipe of juice and a sugar syrup. The syrup is made with equal parts sugar and water, boiled till the sugar dissolves. Allow that to cool while you juice the lemons. I fill half the flagon with juice and fill it up with syrup. When you make the drink up, you pour enough cordial for your taste into a glass (about one part cordial to five parts water), and fill it up with icy water, and ice cubes if you have them. I didn't, so that was another seasonal chore - I got two ice cube trays, filled them with filtered water and have them now sitting in the freezer. In the next day or so I'll add a plastic container that will hold the ice cubes in the freezer while the trays make more cubes.

In the afternoon, I had another break from writing as Hanno was mowing the lawn in the front garden. I made up a lemon cordial for myself and a rosella cordial for Hanno and we sat in the cool shade of the front verandah to cool down and relax.

I am back to writing again today. I have taken two weeks off work to get my book proposal done, or at least almost done. So I'll be busy tapping away on the keys again but I have no doubt more seasonal tasks will pop up during the day and no doubt they'll be done - slowly and with the pleasure of the task.

Welcome to all the new readers who arrived over the past week or so. I hope this week is a good one for all of us. I hope you appreciate each day for what it gives you and you slow yourself enough to truly live your days.


  1. love feeling the change of seasons. It is such a natural rhythm when we are in tune with them.

    Good luck with the book proposal.

  2. The next time I find a bag of lemons on the markdown rack at my local grocery store, I'm going to make some cordial of my own. Yummy!

    I know that feeling of when hubby and I celebrate at a nice place, then afterwards "buyer's remorse", so to speak, sets in and we question our decision, but of course it's spilled milk by then.

    Since the view sounded so lovely, maybe you could take a picnic next time and find a spot along the way to sit, eat, and enjoy the view.

  3. I have loved reading your posts the last few weeks. Here in the states I am enjoying the seasonal change to fall. It is so nice read about your change on the other side of the world.

  4. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I'm doing seasonal work also.
    I did a major declutter over the past few wks. I have 5 generations of "Stuff" I had been hanging onto . The time felt right to pass alot down to the 2 gens. below me. I feel so much better now! Amazing how "Stuff" holds us down. Soon I'll have to prepare our winter bed.
    For sometime now when we have reason to celebrate we often do a picnic, I go with a theme have a cloth table cloth, candles, real plates ,silverware etc. we really enjoy it. If the weathers bad we enjoy a picnic inside. Works well for us. And its something we both Love to do.
    Have agreat wk.

  5. Rhonda
    Of course it was worth any time spent with friends and loved ones looking at the wonders this planet has to offer is worth it. Think of the money you paid for lunch as your entry fee.

    Off to see if the storm knocked fruit off our trees although I think we only have grapefruit left now - grapefruit cordial?????


  6. I'm enjoying the seasonal change here too! Cool morning and nights. Soon I'll put the electric blanket on the bed. Planting our fall veggies. My husband's birthday was last month and we went out to eat and said the same thing to ourselves. It was good but not for that price - next year we'll do something at home I think.


  7. Here in Texas it is nice that it is finally cooling off just a little bit. Last week was quite nice but now it has heated up again some. Another month or so and we will have nice cooler weather.
    In the meantime, the garden loves it! :-)

  8. Hi Rhonda,
    Seasonal change is wonderful, we haven't quite got to a summmer bed down here yet. The weather has been warm though, but I sure there is more cold to come.If it stays like this for another week I will change to the summer doona next weekend. Have a good day writing.

    Tracie xx

  9. I too ended up with a box full of lemons thanks to a windstorm that picked them for me! I'll be making the lemon cordial today. Cheers!

  10. We seemed to be heading into autumn in England but we're enjoying a few days sunshine so maybe we'll get our summer now, better late than never as the saying goes!

    I'm glad to hear you're making progress with your book, cant wait!

  11. When the season change, I always seem to get rejuvinated. How wonderful to have a lemon tree. I miss the ones we had when we lived in CA. I may have to get some lemons and make this myself.

  12. Warmer nights have already arrived down here too. We use cotton sheets year round but the layers are coming off!

    I need to do something about our Meyer lemon tree which is in a huge pot. It has half a dozen fruit on it but few leaves and is not looking well. I'll consult some books on my day off today. If you have any ideas Rhonda, I'd appreciate hearing them.

    Best of luck with the writing.

  13. Rhonda I am so glad Hanno had a lovely Birthday.
    That man of yours is like a fine botle of red. Improving with age, love to you both

  14. Hello everyone! It's good to see some of you getting into the lemon cordial as well.

    Rose, re your meyer lemon. How long has it been in the pot? If it's been in there more than 5 years, it needs repotting. If not, I'd prune it back by one third, cutting right back to shape the tree as you go. I did this to our orange tree in winter and now it's entirely fresh green growth.

    Once that's done, replace the top two inches of soil in your pot, apply organic fertiliser - worm castings, comfrey, blood and bone, or whatever you have on hand and give it a good water. When the leaves start growing again, apply two tablespoons of potash - it's organic, this will encourage flowers.

    It will need a good watering program throughout summer, every second time you water add a SMALL amount of fertiliser as well. Citrus need a lot of nitrogen to do well. Good luck!

  15. Is "Hanno" short for "Handsome?" :-)

  16. What a lovely place to pause during a busy day of writing and working. Just reading your most recent blog I felt myself relax. The pictures of your sheets hanging in the air bring back memories of my childhood in the Midwest. I did start hanging my clothes out after Hurricane Wilma when we were out of power for 10 days and I have kept up the habit since then because I love the way my clothes smell after being outside in the sunshine.
    Thank you so much for this simple moment.

  17. Your Hanno is a very handsome man!

    I love the seasons too. I was able to have my windows open all week, breezes blowing in, birds chirping and no air conditioners going to block out the sounds of nature.

  18. It seems so odd to read about your preparations for summer as we have just now begune our preparations for winter! Enjoy the opposite season!

    Personally I love all 4 seasons, there is something refreshing about them all.

  19. In case anyone is wondering grapefruit cordial is YUM. I made some this morning and the kids and I just had a glass with lunch. I made up the rest of grapefruit as well. THinking it would be great with a dash of gin and toppped up with soda as the sun goes down - but it is school holidays here so maybe earlier if they keep arguing!!!LOL


  20. I live in a climate where we barely have seasons. I know it is autumn, only because it is cooler at night, tonight being the coolest I have felt in a while. And the wind has picked up some. I never change the bedding with the seasons. It's basically the same boring it can get! We do get winter weather, but it is just more of the same temperature, with rain. Spring the same...the temperature is the same except it has stopped raining hard. Then summer...same temperature, no rain.
    But we do get an Indian Summer, for about two weeks, We had it at the beginning of September. We may get another week in October, maybe not. I like your seasons.

  21. ah Rhonda you are putting away your Winter bed things as we are getting ours out ready for use again lol.We often get four seasons in a day here so our Winter gear is never far away!

    We've also felt regret at times when we've eaten out and then afterwards considered the cost and what that money could have bought us instead.I've tried not to do that as outings are lot fewer and farther between these days & as long as we've enjoyed ourselves I try and think that's what really counted,it does niggle away in the back of your mind though doesn't it sometimes especially fuel prices as they are today adding so much to the cost.I kind of feel that I could have made something a lot nicer to eat for a whole lot less,so now we try & take this into account before we go think about going anywhere and most always take a picnic out with us and find somewhere quiet and beautiful to eat it,or we'll make a special meal at home together instead.

    That lemon cordial looks lovely I'll definitely give that a go thanks again Rhonda :)


  22. A belated Happy Birthday to Hanno, sorry I missed the day.

  23. I too love the seasonal chores. I am totally looking forward to changing to the summer bed. It'll be a while yet in Melbourne though.

  24. Ah the in Maine we have just had our third hard frost! Our growing season is SO short. I am envious of you who plant and harvest and plant again. I understand now why the old Mainers ate a lot of dried beans.
    The tree are turning to their lovely autumnal colors and the deer are appearing regularly in the back field. Can winter be far behind.

  25. I have just stumbled upon your site and it enompasses how i am trying to live my life, i gave up a stressful teaching careeer and moved to the country to be surrounded by nature and live asimple life...
    I live in the lake district and the trees are just about to change ready to fall...keep on blogging, you are an inspiration to many x

  26. Thank you Rhonda. I just checked in before going to bed and I appreciate your advice, it marries with Pete Cundall's in his book. So I'll go that way.

    I am making biscuits on my day off (Mondays) and they are so much more satisfying than commercial ones as well as being better for us. We eat them for morning tea in our shop and my 82 year old Mum enjoys them here at home. Such a small tip but so wise and useful. Many thanks.

  27. We're heading into Autumn with the others in this hemisphere. However thinking ahead to spring I am having some conifers and other shrubs taken out to make room for a vegetable bed. Nothing grand, but a big step for me. I am also planning an experiment to buy only food produced within a 100 mile radius of here, with a few exceptions that I will try to get via Fairtrade. I will cook more things from scratch and plan ahead more thoroughly.
    I shall miss bananas and citrus fruits but I look forward to eating local food in season. We have wonderful meat here produced by small farms. We also have farmers' markets for fruit and veg, so even if we don't have a big garden we can still eat healthily, save food miles and support local business at the same time.
    I have a whole different mindset since simplifying and look forward each day to this blog to reaffirm that I am part of a small, quiet revolution.

  28. I just discovered your blog and I am really enjoying it. Thanks so much for sharing your simple (yet very rich) days with us. I aspire to live the way you do. Can't wait to try making your lemon cordial. I'm trying to save money (and be healthy) by eliminating wine from our diet. I am always happy to find a fun drink like this.
    Karen in Connecticut

  29. I had a birthday too this weekend and we went out for lunch. We could have bought about half a weeks shopping for the price. You do wonder if you should spend so much but then we don't do it very often.

  30. Charis, I love your plans. I wish you all the best.

    Happy birthday, Tilly

  31. How long does your lemon cordial last? I have a recipe that calls for citric acid, do I really need to add this?
    Also, how do you make the Rosella cordial?
    Bec xxx

  32. Hi Rhonda

    What a lovely post. It made me want to be there enjoying the cordial with you! You are very inspirational and although I have a lot of work on today, I am at home and it is making me think, what should I do today to enjoy the day? I might have a bit of a spring clean... though we're heading into Autumn here in the UK...

    Happy writing.

  33. Hanno is a hottie, keeping it together for an older guy!

  34. Rhonda I'm gonna make some cordial tomorrow - sounds great. I've been looking for a basic recipe without citric or tartaric acid and yours is the only one I've found. I should have checked here first!

    Do you manage to store the cordial for long?


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