Our gardens are full of the good things one finds there as summer wanes: small and large pumpkins, the last of the ripe cucumbers, chili peppers ready for drying, plump tomatoes for canning and drying, blackberries, and an infinity of sunflowers! And we’ve had lots of butterflies and hummingbirds in the gardens this year — a nice thing to watch in the afternoon as I’m doing now.
Which is why I’m out here with a thermos full of cider apparently reading a book, Jane Yolen’s One-Armed Queen, which is most excellent, except if you were here, you’d find me watching the butterflies more intently than reading the book. It’s not that it’s not an interesting book, but rather that the butterflies are more interesting as they are in the sunflowers nearby with upwards of a half dozen on one giant head.
After a while, I decided that I wasn’t going to get anything out of the book so I turned my attention to helping Gus pick the crop of blackberries. Obviously Mrs. Ware uses them in muffins, makes rather splendid blackberry tarts out of them, and a blackberry cobbler that’s served with vanilla ice cream, but Gus noted that his wife Kate has been making wine out of them, a wine she calls Midnight Wine on account of its colour, which is like a night sky without stars or moon.
We got the berries for her new batch, so nothing would do but I come back to their cottage to sample the batch put down five years ago. Kate had a twinkle in her eyes when she noted it had a twelve percent abv! It was a damn fine wine — dry and not too sweet. We made a lunch of it along with some cheddar cheese, smoked salmon, and crusty rolls served with a garlic spread. All in all, it was a splendid repast, complete with conversation that had nothing to do with the Pub. We did get a listen to the first recording of Solstice, a side-project of Snow on the Mountain group which we’d booked last year, which was quite nice.
I’m now sitting out by the Standing Stones after taking the long walk to them, writing this letter to you here before heading back to the Estate Building before it get too dark to see the rough path. If you’d been here, it’d been perfect.
With love, Iain