I haven’t been writing much lately as I haven’t been-well- feeling it. To be honest writing the blog had become a bit of a chore in the middle of stressful and overwhelming period. I needed to stand back and not think too hard about the whole thing, to rest my mind following a pretty tiresome spring, where just about everything that could go wrong, went wrong-teeth, jobs, cars. You know one of those times that seem endlessly unlucky and overwhelming. If I hadn’t stepped back, I fear I might have abandoned the mountain forever. I was afraid my creativity had drained away for good, my mind an empty husk without a story left to tell.
However such is life that these times are not forever, a little bit of self-care and a break has restored my faith in the writing, thankfully and peace reigns in the magical days leading up to the solstice. I love our green, lush garden in June, the trees and bushes beginning to bloom with the promise of a bounty of fruit. I have had a few early starts so I love to take to the bed of an evening, curtains open while it is still light in that pink, hazy, still time before the skies darken. I read and watch the birds dip and rise and the nocturnal creatures emerge; bats and moths. It is peaceful and soothing.
Under the open window I can hear the leaves swish, and I almost feel a painful nostalgia for my childhood home in County Limerick. Back then, in my bedroom under the eaves of our townhouse, I could hear the mountain breeze lifting and swaying the leaves of the old sycamore tree in the grotto across the road in symphony. The tree in the grotto is sadly long gone of course, but she remains in my memory as a majestic thing, standing proud with her full summer foliage.
The summer solstice is poignant. It is the brightest of days, and at this time it never really gets totally dark in Ireland; a faint astrological glow remains until dawn. It makes me sad to think of the time folding inwards again-but yet it signifies the height of summer, to come Strangely I find many people very tired at this time of year, perhaps it is the end of the school term, time for upcoming rest and freedom.
In among the green, other spring fruits and vegetables have emerged-the cheery sight of raspberries that grow wild by the willow trees, and the spring rhubarb that has a record growing season in this house from February to October.
So, in celebration of the solstice, and summer and the bounty of this hopeful and beautiful time, here is a bright little summer cordial recipe with ingredients from the garden, including our fresh rosemary. This can be added to sparkling water (or gin or vodka in a cocktail, if this is your thing!).
Approx 4 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
A handful of raspberries (optional)
Zest and juice or two citrus fruits (I used orange)
Sprig of rosemary (basil is also nice)
Cup of sugar (or adjust for sweetness or tartness)
100 ml water.
Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to boil, once boiling, simmer down on low for about 20-30 mins. Once all the ingredients have combined, place a strainer over a jug, add the mixture and allow to strain into the jug, this should take about 20 mins. Add to a sterilized glass bottle-in this case I used an old cordial one, and store in the fridge-it will last about 10 days.
Til next time folks, as the wheels of the earth turn again, may the next 6 months, bring hope and happiness to you.