Tuesday, 7 September 2010

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"

... so begins John Keats' poem, To Autumn 1820.

I was up at the allotment early today, by 7 o'clock, and spent a couple of hours generally tidying before torrential rain brought me home again.

At this time of year this is often the best part of the day. There is a feel of autumn, a gentle nip in the air without being too cold, and it is often misty, before the sun finds enough strength in its rising to burn the moisture away. Today was no exception, and it was very pleasant up on the plot before that rain came.

First I picked all the runner beans that I could find. It was a good haul; I had not been up there for a couple of days. They will store for quite a while in the bottom of the fridge and it is important to keep picking them to encourage more flowers to set. I also picked the yellow courgettes. These make a wonderful soup, with a beautiful flavour, a lovely colour (as long as white onions are used, definitely not red ones!) and it has an extremely pleasant "gloopy" consistency to it. It also freezes well for winter use, when a hot soup is most welcome, with "tear and share" type breads.
There is also plenty of fresh green spinach and I brought an armful of that back with me which I have cooked and again frozen for my winter store.

Then I checked all the protective netting around the brassicas to make sure the pigeons couldn't get at the leaves - otherwise the pesky birds are quite capable of stripping the leaves down to bare midribs given half a chance. Whilst doing this something caught my eye and looking up I saw a beautiful heron gliding overhead, slowly and elegantly.

and Keats' poem?:

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells"

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