August is hours away and I always get reflective as we're leaving July. I just can't help feeling that we must start soaking in every morsel of heat and brightness as we're on the countdown to winter. In some ways August is my favourite month of the year: That urge I have to cling to the summer and get locked in there no longer exists in me, the feeling that it will be nice to sit by the fire settles somewhere in my mind while the thoughts of paying for heating haven't yet begun to terrify me, the weather is usually nice and the gardening slows down, we've done what we could with what it yielded and, if we didn't, then it's too late. We still have blackberries to come, of course, but in our garden they arrive on their own, not in a chorus of things shouting to be picked. I also like to think of the autumn in terms of what we need to plant along the lines of trees and bushes. I have a number of plants that I need to move too. We have been enjoying our onions and potatoes for weeks now and have plenty more to keep us going. It's not just the freshness I appreciate, it's also that when I'm grocery shopping it doesn't include lugging potatoes to the car and then out of the car. Digging up what you need for a meal is such a pleasure. Between my dad and our neighbour we have maintained large stocks of cucumbers which the children decrease by at least one a day.
Sadie and Holly really got into the picking this summer. As per last year, Holly was more interested in just eating while Sadie and I worked but she was interested. Of our strawberries, gooseberries and blackcurrants it's the blackcurrants Sadie loves and I think it's safe to say that a lot of her summer was spent sitting by a bush and indulging.
I found the two of them very helpful in the elderflower-collecting department. They were close to fierce, not one head escaped. I hadn't a drop of cordial left to freeze but it was delicious so we can't complain. I found this recipe over at My Make Do And Mend Year and was a little sorry then that I drank so much cordial because I'd have made a lot more cake if I'd kept any.
We came out with around 40 jars of jam and it is yum. A few jars were liberated by callers....I know
Here's my painting offering, not of crows which I would be too afraid to paint but of my two helpers (which I used to put in inverted commas but now don't because they are actually very helpful) at work: