17 May 2012

Working with the seasons

As you can see, I've changed the template again. My apologies to those of you who visited yesterday while I was working on it. There were all sorts of strange things on the blog while I sampled different templates. I wanted one with a post date and a footer and while the one I eventually chose doesn't have everything I want, it's close enough for the time being. I still have some work to do on it - such as removing that grey band, working out how to swap the time for the date, moving the navigation bar and a few other tweaks, but at the moment I've given as much time to it as I have and now it has to wait for a day or so until I have the time to finish it.  I'm sorry for the inconvenience it causes but I love change and do change the look of my blog every few months. It's slow because I have to teach myself the coding as I go. Still, I look on it as a learning exercise and I am grateful for everyone of those.

Hanno asked me to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and messages. We will go back to the doctor and physiotherapist today and see what progress has been made. He is still in a lot of pain but he said yesterday that he thinks it is easing slightly. When I get Hanno back home again and settled, I have a couple of meetings to attend this afternoon, then I'll go into Brisbane for the talk and book signing at Avid Reader. I'm really looking forward to it because I've been told so many good things about that wonderful book shop.


The bunnies are warming themselves on the flannel sheets.

Today I want to talk about the seasonal work we all do. We live in the sub-tropics so we don't experience the full wonder of four seasons. I would say we get a very brief autumn and spring and a long winter and summer. Nevertheless, as soon as the cool weather arrives, I feel like I'm deep in the heart of  New England or Manitoba, and I start my autumn tasks. We have no fire wood to gather here but I have on my lambswool slippers and extra layers of clothing but my most important ritual is to take the flannel sheets from the linen cupboard and make the bed warm and cosy.

Just doing that one thing takes me instantly from thoughts of a cool salad for dinner with ice cubes in water to going into the kitchen to get out the slow cooker. When those flannel sheets are on the bed and wool slippers are on my feet, everything changes.

When you do most of your own cooking at home, you notice how much the weather effects what you do. Bread takes longer to rise, yoghurt needs an extra covering overnight and you need to find a warmer spot for your sourdough starter and fermenting. But here it is also a good time for cheesemaking. We're about to eat two very good looking camembert cheese I made a while back, soon I'll have a hard cheese on the go too, with the option to leave it to ripen on a cool shelf instead of in the fridge.

So while a beef casserole and herb dumplings bubbles away slowly in the kitchen, we also have our garden to look after and that takes on a different feel in the cooler months. In summer it's all heat, humidity and bugs here. In autumn and winter it's perfect growing weather and there's a slight feel of urgency in March as we sow seeds and Hanno prepares the soil for yet another year's planting. Watering the garden takes on a different feel too. Instead of the playful and cooling exercise it becomes later in the year, in winter, I rug up and wear gloves when I water the garden.

I love working to the seasons. It gives a new feel to the work we do. In the cooler months I feel I'm providing protection from the cold and warming food to those I love and in the hotter months, it's all shade trees, ice cubes and salads. One day I would love to build a fire in the fading light of day and sit near a wood stove to warm up and knit at night but in the meantime, tell me how you stay warm in winter and how you go about your seasonal work.

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