Small sweet surprises

It is seven months since we went into isolation. My husband and I have been at home avoiding contact with people since early March. Thousands of others, for health reasons, have done the same. We imagined that all would be well, at least, by the summer.

But here we are in autumn and we are still isolating.

To keep ourselves busy and give us an aim we decided, at the very beginning, that we would try and be self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. And luckily that is what we have been able to do.

Today, I have made the last raspberry crumble. They are autumn rasps and normally I don’t bother with them because they are soft and squashy. But this year everything we can eat is precious and must not be wasted.

Every week this month my husband has been saying – “I think these are the last of the crop.” But every week there have been more. Then, yesterday he picked another bowl full and left them in my cool utility. I didn’t see them at first, but I knew they were there by their strong rich smell. They are delicious in my crumble, more so because they are the last. I know for sure, this time, because the stems have been cut and thrown into the chicken pen for the hen to peck.

Our carefully nurtured soft fruit is over and now we look to the orchard. Pears usually take a long time to fruit and they say you should plant ‘pears for your heirs’. But, as if knowing that we are finding this year difficult, our young trees have fruited in abundance. Pears are dripping from them, hanging like golden pearl drops. They are still hard but they have been picked and stored in our cool garage.  They will begin to soften soon. I have started to eat them already.

Another tree which I have been amazed by this year is my walnut tree. I bought it about 20 years ago in the hope of nuts in the autumn. But it took several years to crop and then the squirrels got the lot. We cut the branches nearby so that they could not jump from neighbouring trees to the walnut. This did not work because they just shinned up the nut tree trunk. So, last year, we put a collar on the trunk – one of those you put on the dog to stop it scratching when it has a wound – a big white cone. The squirrels managed to circumnavigate that too.

But this year, for some reason, the squirrels have not been and we have walnuts bursting out of their green cases, ready to be eaten by us.

Small, sweet surprises keep us all going.

(Taken from my column I the Shropshire Star)


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