Have you noticed the abundance of acorns, holly berries and the like this autumn? Well, there they are and several people have now told me that the more nuts and fruit that appear on the trees, the harder the winter will be… as I was dwelling on this, the weather suddenly became harsher and their words came back, alongside the realisation that Nature prepares us for what lies ahead. We are all getting the message that we need to plan (as She herself has done) for a long, hard winter, with a wealth of fruits and nuts to store away.
A recent trip to my aunt in Worcester has given me a basket of crab apples to play with! Always a keen gardener, who enjoys providing a playground for her grandchildren and birds alike, Lynn has a beautiful crab apple tree, and ever since I can remember, she has made crab apple jelly. Sadly, she is now too unwell for such kitchen endeavours, but with her in mind, this week I am going to make the jelly in her honour. I am also going to make some tiny toffee apples for a treat my childhood tooth cannot quite resist - in the hope my teenage-lazy-beyond-belief son will feel enticed back into the kitchen. But for now, they are a conversation piece in the studio and home kitchen, where their kiss-me-quick crimson cheek pulls our attention towards them.
We humans have been on a long journey, out from the Garden of Eden, separating ourselves from our mother, Nature. It is a compelling argument that this begins with cooking. Learning how to make and manipulate fire, and provide for ourselves with ingenuity, creativity and desire, is our human destiny. In this separation delusions of power, control and grandeur abound, as ego led competition increases, repressing our cooperative nature. When we loose our connection to the source, we also loose our connection to our unique herd-pack, our community, that is fundamental to who we are: a social being, who desires their place at Nature’s table alongside the other birds, beasts, nuts and berries…
There is nothing quite like foraging for food. Picking berries from my aunt’s abundant garden brought me closer to her, and close enough to hear Nature’s message that it is time to prepare for an unusually tough winter. Whilst cooking has separated us from the natural world, making us feel special and different, by tuning into the food we make, we can choose to come home. Make winter stores to brighten and nourish dreary days, uses our natural resourceful talents - bringing a sense of gratitude for Nature’s plan of challenging delights.