Looking on the bright side

Today the universe is a brighter place. It is not to do with the state of the world or politics or even the mellow season. But everything looks clearer and the walls of the house look whiter. It is as if Mr T has decorated whilst I have been away. It is to do with my eyes.

There is a story in our family about our grandma. She lived with us in our big old farmhouse and the tale goes that she needed an operation on her eyes. She had to have an injection and sat stoically in her fireside chair looking up at the ceiling. The doctor injected into her eye and she did not flinch or, so we were told. I see her in my mind’s eye watching the needle getting closer and closer until it went into her eye and she must not blink. In those days operations were sometimes done on our kitchen table.

Grandma was very brave and the idea was that we should be the same. But times have changed, I was in hospital for an eye operation last week and there was little discomfort.

Some things stay the same though. The autumn season is upon us again. The equinox has gone and our nights are slowly getting longer. It happens imperceptibly until one day I say to myself, ‘Just a minute wasn’t it only yesterday that I did not need to draw the curtains until late evening?’ Now, I am pulling them mid evening as I shiver a little.

And as if that was not bad enough, we had our central heating on last night, the first time this season. In the mornings I am up early enough to see the sun rise, and it is not that early. It is around seven in the morning. It rises just to the side of our cow shed but in July it rose much more to the north over the pond in Oak Meadow. The angle in the sky between sunrise and sunset keeps on getting smaller until the solstice in December.

Looking on the bright side (which I can now) the season for fruit has been a good one. We are already picking our eating apples and the pears are looking good. We have lots of damsons too which we usually ignore. But this year Mr T has made damson chutney and I have made damson jelly. I boil them up then leave them on the kitchen table in a straining bag fastened over a large bowl. Then I boil again. Damsons have a high pectin content and they reach setting point quickly, like the sun nowadays.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)

Making damson jelly


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