Joy in small things

Our new potatoes are ready. It sounds impressive but I must tell you that they were grown in the greenhouse, so that is cheating a little. They were planted just before we went into isolation. My idea was that we could be self-sufficient in vegetables and fruit for months.

These days our meals have become especially important events, they punctuate our day and give us a structure. So, what a thrill it is to be eating our own potatoes, at last. They are about the size of golf balls; we dig three plants as a meal for two.

When they have been dug up tradition says that you must run with them to the kitchen for maximum freshness. After a light wash, they should not be cut but go whole into the pan of boiling water.

Served with a knob of butter, they are sweet and soft and silky on the tongue. Almost like fruit, I serve them for lunch in round white bowls with fresh green herbs. They are so delicious that my mouth waters when I see the plants in the greenhouse, where all our other vegetables are growing in abundance.

We will have lots of apples in the autumn too, If the frothing blossom covering the orchard trees is anything to go by.  For some reason, a mass of flowers seems to have exploded this year. I wonder if it is because the air is purer with less traffic, or is it that we had such a warm April?

Whatever the reason, the woodland is covered in white blossom too. The mountain ash and the wayfaring tree are both dotted with lacey bubbling flowers.

The artist, David Hockney said that for a very brief time in spring, it looks as though champagne has been thrown over the bushes and it’s all foaming up. It has happened so suddenly. I want to savour the moment as it will all be gone as quickly as it came. This is a fleeting small joy but so important to me now. I probably missed it in my hurry last year.

Our skies seem to have exploded too, with the swallows and house martins. I sit out at dusk on ‘swallow watch’ and see them swooping and dipping around the trees. They are catching the flies which are taking shelter there.

And now we are in May the aerial acrobats are joined by other birds sweeping the high skies. These are the swifts, newly arrived from Africa. They have flown over the Sahara Desert and could have seen camels on their way. Now they see our sheep with lambs in the fields. But they will be concentrating on something else. They will be catching insects, after their long journey, and preparing for egg laying and rearing young. They must hurry and make the most of the next few months because they will be gone as quickly as they came.

I can see the swifts now scything the air over our roof top. They scream as I watch their frenzied flight, they don’t stop even to sleep.

It was my very special VE Day birthday on 8th May and I opened a bottle of champagne and listened to their screams of joy as they flew past.
(Taken from column in the Shropshire Star)


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