The summer is slowly cranking up – we are past the longest day. The mad rush of spring catching up on lost time after our extended winter - everything from March to June happening at once - has quieted. Now we want the sedate and orderly progression of seasons. As farmers, we are so reliant on the weather happening at the right time in the right order. We sit on top of natural processes, imagining we control them. The weather gave us a little slap to remind us who’s boss.
The miracle of spring is here in May. The farm had a bleak and wintry look through to the end of April, every bit of our 52 degrees north of latitude – we are as far north as Newfoundland. Buds burst into a blasting cold gale, the grass shrivelled into purple bonsai, all the right shape but dwarfed. The wildlife had a hunted, hungry look. I saw a treecreeper, the shyest of birds, come towards our bird feeders, where normally only the bolder birds come. Now, with sun and balmy warmth, birds are singing loud all day, bumble bees are starting their busy summer. I had no idea how much those simple sounds lift my heart. Oddly enough, the house martins arrived 11 days earlier this year than last year – perhaps they know something we don’t.
February has a reputation for being wet and gloomy. I long for it not be that way, and grasp at the lighter mornings and evenings. The sun does more than scrape itself off the horizon. The morning chorus of songbirds kicked off earlier in the season than I remember. I know it’s birds defending territory, but it is a gorgeous start to the day as first one bird, then others join in till you get a swelling joyful sound.
In this blog series our intrepid intern Molly will find and interview American cheesemakers attempting to re-create traditional European cheeses. Learn about the difficulties as well as the benefits of this type of cheese making, as well as how terroir and the idea of a cheese tied to a location so distant changes when that cheese is made in a new location. Also, each week you’ll have a chance to win an issue of culture: the word on cheese. Last week's winner was Jill Budzynski!
The dark time of year, dark mornings, night comes so early. When we have sun it seems very special, and with a thick enough coat and hat is a magical time, precious brightness, low light highlighting every bare twig and blade of grass. The earth feels like it is ruminating, digesting last year, brewing next year. The undergrowth disappears, leaving everyone’s tracks clearer. Tom & I were in the garden one late afternoon, and about 20 wild boar solemnly trooped by on the other side of the stream, a couple of sows, a few gilts, but mainly this year’s piglets. Boar, like the farmed pigs they are so closely related to, have large families. Tasty, but scary when you get too close. When we said we wanted more room for wildlife on farms, I’m not sure we meant this: be careful what you wish for, you will get it.
Our beautiful farm is stepping into its most beautiful garb - light, lacy, luminescent leaves, newly unfurled on the trees. Spring blossom makes dark branches a graceful backdrop. You can see why the Japanese hold cherry blossom festival, and party as the petals drop on their picnics. The hedgerows explode with Queen Anne’s Lace, cow parsley, white umbrella flowers on long stalks that suddenly make the lanes very narrow. After it rains the heavy flowerheads lean in and brush your car, leaving petals on the side. The birds get busy nest building and egg laying: not the peregrine falcon that the pair of goshawks nesting over the hill devoured. The peregrine was being trained, but escaped from the next village, but got no further than here.
Well I guess you can say I was lost in the woods for awhile and the summer ‘heat’ got the best of me. Now that things have cooled off a bit, I’m back in action and getting all kinds of ideas for blogs.
Fall is one of my favorite times of year- the cool crisp air, being able to wear cozy sweaters and slippers, and enjoying fall’s seasonal food such as squash and apples.
We order apples by the bushel at the cheese shop I work at and they (as some may know) compliment cheese beautifully. The many different varietals are overwhelming. You got your McIntosh, Gala, Empire, and Honey Crisp, and lesser known varietals such as Roxbury Russets, Cox Orange Pippin, Mutsu or Northern Spy. Each of them have varying flavor and texture profiles.
12 December 2010
Still in California.
Tonight I “dined” at a cheesy (not the kind we usually discuss here) little kitsch spot that shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. I say innocent because no one could ever possibly, in all earnest, display the item I am about to describe to you, without having only recently emerged from a cultureless exile, like a cliché town where Kraft Singles microwaved on top of freezer-section pie is considered normal.