8 December 2008

The signs of December

There is a distinct feel to certain times of the year. July at my home is fluffy slippers weather - cold. In July, there is soup on the stove, woollen gloves in the car and I always feel that, given a little time and help, I could mother the entire earth and make everyone warm.

December is altogether different, it's hot and humid bare arms weather. The never-fail signs of December are afternoon thunderstorms rolling in, the clinking of ice cubes in frosty glasses of lemon cordial, the ceiling fan moving slowly on hot summer nights and when I hear kids playing in the street during the day, it's a sure sign school is finished for the year, summer holidays have started and Christmas is just around the corner.

Shane and Sarndra came over for lunch on Saturday. How good it was to see them! I made up some bread rolls, salad from the garden and added a plate of local cheese and some pastrami for the meat eaters. They brought some cold brewed ginger beer and lemon, lime and bitters with them, which went well with the food. Later we all had a slice of my orange coconut cake and coffee.

We caught up on all the news and had a look at photos of their newly acquired mother hen and baby chicks. I am so thankful to see Shane so happy and content with a girl he obviously adores, and she him. There is a lot to be said for these times around the kitchen table, reconnecting and further strengthening our family ties. They seem to go hand-in-hand with Christmas and hot December weather.

Yesterday it was just Hanno and I for morning tea. I started another pair of fingerless mittens, this time in pure Merino wool, for Sarndra. I sneakily had her try on the little red pair I made for size. ; - ) I remember my own mother trying to size something for me, saying she was making it for my sister. I have no doubt Sarndra knew what I was doing, but played by the rules and didn't say a word about it. She is a good fit for our family, there is no doubt about it.

The hot weather is great for the garden but the heavy rain does a fair bit of damage. These golden nugget pumpkins are surviving, but only just. Still, there are quite a few of them out there and soon we'll be able to pick them and store them in the kitchen for eating later in the year. We've had a few more strikes of fruit fly in the tomatoes but overall there seem to be fewer of them around. Of course, it will next summer before we know if these measures we've taken are working. I'm sure there are eggs in the soil, but hopefully, as each year passes, there will be fewer.

And in the background of our lives, the animals wander in and out. Hettie sleeps in the hay in the shed, but every morning, when she hears us having tea on the verandah, she runs over to be fed some cake. The chooks are happy to roam around the backyard, scratching and pecking, searching for bugs. Heather, our salmon Faverolles girl, is broody again and spends her days on the nest where she pushes herself deep into the straw hoping no one will see her. And Alice, our Airedale, is happy to follow Hanno around while he works in the yard, or sleep on her bed in the kitchen, away from the March flies of December.

Life's good.



  1. gosh its funny reading that lol! the smalls birthday is in July & thats sit outside & sip Pimms & try & do as little as possible in the humid heat & then December,now lol! its -2 deg outside,freezing fog & trecherous lanes gulp!

    I love mothering people when its cold,I would fill hot water bottles galore lol for whoever needed them,sliding into a warmed bed is just so needed when its chilly,talking of them,I had better get on & get mine up there!
    GTM x x x
    ps we have the same blue CK mug :o)

  2. Good morning Rhonda,

    What a lovely post today. It all seems to evoke the word PEACE. It's fun to see the pictures to. Just wondering what the book on the table is? It has such a pretty cover. You can just look at a picture or you can really look into a picture, which is what I try to do. The mugs and plate with their feminine design, the bone handled knife just like the ones I have and the white cat. I also had a beautiful white cat when I was first married. She was so special and her name was Puccina, When she died I was so sad and my husband presented me with a little ginger rogue called Giallo who thought he was a human. When we lived on the farm he would go away for a few days and them come back with flees on his ears from the rabbits he would hunt. He always arrived back at about 3am and sit on our bedroom windowsill and howl till I got up and gave him some warm milk. I guess these things are what memories are made of. Have a great day and thanks again for sharing a little of your life with us.

    Blessings Gail

  3. Hettie looks lovely! I didn't know you had her.
    The coconut orange cake looks lovely, too. May I ask for the recipe? (Unless you've already shared it and I don't know...)

    December heats sound strange for me as well. I was born in December. In fact, my birthday is today. When I was taken home from the hospital (which I don't remember, but I heard a lot), there was a snowstorm. Today it was just raining, but still heats sound so... unlikely. And yet it makes good sense. Enjoy your hot and stormy December!

    Gifts... That reminds me of how my sisters once asked me whether I knew of a good thing to give to their fellow students. I said I had seen a beautiful mug with the handle shaped as a seahorse. Well, of course it was me who got it that Christmas. :-) I loved it; I used to drink milk from it. It broke many years later and got thrown away, but I still remember it, and the way I got it.

  4. Good Morning Rhonda
    Seems so strange when you talk of hot soup and fluffy slippers in July and bare arms and clinking ice cubes in December. Here in the UK it is cold and very wet at the moment. We don't often get snow where we live but there has been a fair bit further up country. I am so looking forward to a taste of your tropical Christmas when I visit my girls in Sydney later in the month. I have missed my times around the kitchen table over the last year.

    Have a good day.

    Pippa x

  5. I enjoy reading your blog in opposite seasons! It helps me look forward to gardening next spring/summer. It's cold in Texas now.

  6. Good morning ladies! It's a funny old world we live in, isn't it.

    Gail, the book is Nourishing Traditions. I'm still making my way through it.

    Hana, a mug with a seahorse handle! How sweet. I'll post the recipe later in the week. I'm working today and tomorrow.

    Pippa, I'm so pleased you're visiting for Christmas. I'm sure you've been missed.

  7. I have been enjoying your blog very much. We are about the same age I'm guessing and share a lot of the same thoughts. I was surprised about the cold in July, not thinking at the moment about being on opposite sides of the world. Here in Colorado it is really settling into winter. We went sledding up in Breckenridge with our two boys yesterday and the entire town is decked out for Christmas. Once we had a Christmas in July and the A/C worked overtime keeping the house cool. Thanks for the peek into your part of the world! And the cake looks yummy too..

  8. Here's a handy "winter warmer" tip for dog owners. The next time you have to scoop your dogs deposit into the little plastic bag, dont just drop it into the waste bin...why waste that lovely warmth?? Tie the bag CAREFULLY and pop it in your pocket to warm those frozen fingers. If your dog is feeling genourous he might even drop a second gift of hand warming joy !

  9. Thank you so much, Rhonda Jean! And good morning to you - it's evening for me here in the Czech Republic.
    I really enjoy reading your blog. I introduced you to my sister and she obviously enjoys it as well, because she introduced it enthusiastically to Mum. Sister and her boyfriend are making their own bread (started before introduced to your blog, it was why I thought they'd like it). I'm not there yet, but I love baking something from time to time. My favourites are little buns of leavened dough. I think I'm going to make them again this week.

    Today I was also reading a cookbook from 1956. There was communism here, and the book is full of socialist talk about working women and children in nurseries. But there's even more of useful simple traditional recipes in it. I'd love to try out many of them. Maybe I'll share some on my blog if they prove successful.

  10. Rhonda, I spent my first 45 years in the north of New Zealand so when I read your words they bring back memories. But now in the UK December for me is darkness at 3.30, warm soups and casseroles, knitted socks and thermal undies. But I know that where ever you are, with your famiies love it is always the best season.

  11. Reading your post I could feel summer....the laziness of a summer afternoon was conjured up for me with just those few words.

  12. Rhonda,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful little blog! I check in on it on a regular basis and just enjoy it immensely! I tried your lovely lemon butter (curd) for my Irish-born husband, and we're really enjoying it. All your little posts are such a pleasure to read and give me so much food for thought in our own modest efforts to try and live more simply and "down to earth". Thank you again,
    Karen in Florida

  13. We are having very nice weather for the garden here in NZ. Lots of rain and sunshine in Wellington. I have lots of potatoes growing and keep mounding them up like mad. Hoping for a good crop.
    Here in NZ December is always summertime. My birthday is around late Nov and we have always had barbies for it. Our weather here is more marginal than Queensland and we can be quite a bit cooler too. July is definitaly fire weather. Hot fires at home and lying on the couch reading a book while the dogs and my husband snooze. Mmmmmmm. Cosy.

  14. Life IS good! I enjoy reading about yours.

    I'm letting some barmbrack raise and it's just about ready to put in the oven. Barmbrack has become my one "bready" indulgence. Thanks for the recipe:)

  15. I made my oldest close her eyes REALLY tight today so that I could try a sweater on her for sleeve length. She's excited that Mom is knitting for her, and I hope the surprise isn't too ruined. I just had to try it on!

  16. I've always wondered what it would be like to live where it is always hot at Christmas.

    Your July describes my December. :)

  17. Ah yes, those summer afternoon thunderstorms, we are having them frequently, the last few weeks, some days torrential and quick and some go on most the night, then everything is so fresh in the morning and the weeds so easy to pull (not that I ever seem to keep up with them)

  18. That was a lovely post. Its cold and frosty here. I wish I could knit those fingerless mittens seem like a good idea.
    Best wishes from Brittany France.

  19. I have the same gingham curtains as you do,,but mine are valances..I LOVE red and white gingham. Thanks so much for sharing pics. I LOVE looking into the home's of others,,and picturing myself sitting with you over a cup of tea. Blessings...

  20. It's really fun to read about your weather. Summertime and warm. We have
    - 15 degrees celsius these days, and a lot of snow. And "strangely" enough, that give us the christmas feeling. Isn't it funny how different time of the year gives us our right christmas feeling?

    I wish you and your family, both four- and twolegged, a merry chrstmas!

    Best wishes, Kristin

  21. I think maybe instead of retiring to Florida over the winter months here in Pennsylvania, we should head to Australia. Actually a friend of mine goes to Australia every year over the winter for a month to stay with friends. She usually takes one family member with her on her journey.
    I think I may try my hand at making fingerless mittens, although I crochet instead of knit, I think I can come up with something.

  22. When you have time, could you post the recipe for the orange coconut cake. It looks awesome. Thanks!

  23. Life's good, indeed. And mmm this cake looks so good! I'm still planning to make the chocolate sour cream cake, the recipe for which you shared some time ago...

  24. I love the 'I have found such joy' poem. Just wonderful. (Still cant get over your heat and summer and our cold and winter.) Lovely post. thank you.

  25. love coming to your blog always makes me want to do something about simple living..thanks for the inspiration

  26. i always have to smile when i read how opposite our weather patterns are. so.. what we here call "summer vacation" is in december? how long does it last? does this mean the kids go to school during june, july, august?

    if you feel comfortable, please e-mail me your address. i'd love to send you a holiday card. i'm at karbear1103@yahoo.com.

    continue to be well! the cake sounds delicious.


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