The shortest day of the year approaches, with the sun setting early in the northwest at 5.15pm in glorious palettes of red and orange below grey clouds that might finally signal the longed-for start of our winter rainfall. Cold short days bring the cook and gardener together before the fireside each evening, and a whole new suite of jobs - notably bean shelling and garlic splitting - begin.
Dried beans (for seed storage ) pulled from the last of the Lazy Wife beans have been separated from the green beans, which will be cooked by boiling in salted water, pureeing, then mixing them through onion cooked gently in butter.
Garlic saved for seed last year is taken out of the store room and the best cloves broken out and prepared for planting. Some of these garlic cloves are beginning to sprout; nature’s signal that planting time is indeed here.
The weekend comes around, and both cook and gardener can be found outside in the winter sunshine; 300 garlic cloves and about the same number of red, brown and white onions seedlings plus leek seedlings all get planted out in a single bed in a single day.
Night falls and the job’s done. By mutual consent, we declare ‘Feirerabend!’ – an evening off!