Thursday, 25 October 2012


oops, it's gone sideways again! who can help me fix this?
So as October draws slowly to a close, the season of  ripe fruitfulness does likewise, and I find myself making grape jelly again -- as I do every year, using the grapes from the vine that winds itself up the brickwork beneath the front terrace. It has always been here, and I feel a kind of housewifely obligation to use what it yields for a few jars -- 6 this year -- of dark purple jelly, shining and brilliant on the spoon before it melts a little on the hot toast, or blends itself into a pot of yoghurt. It is a crazy "waste of time" in some ways, as it is so labour-intensive, but aftrer a few hours of picking, sorting, smushing, boiling, dripping through a muslin bag and boiling again, pouring into jars and sealing with wax, voila! writing the labels to stick on the lids, I have an enormous feeling of satisfaction. Here are the grapes, pre-jelly.

some of this year's apple crop, stored in the cellar
Now there are still lots of apples in the cellar for making apple sauce, and apple pie (particularly Aunt Christine's Apple Pie, a big favorite with Mas Blanc guests), and there is a large bag of almonds ready for someone to crack during the Christmas season. The apricots are now happily jammed in jars with a few marischino cherries for colour, and the plums? well the plums didn't do well, same as the cherries that were eaten by enormous beetles -- done in by forces of nature.  It'll be a bad year for the olives this year too, on account of that freeze that came in February, and I am not even going to try to gather them, as there'll not be enough to make a difference at the mill. There have certainly been some happy days picking olives in the past, but not this year. I can never spend time out among the olive trees without missing Bob, my husband of 40 years, who was so much part of this place, Mas Blanc.

 Only a few years ago, Bob and I, working together, picking olives
The last of my visitors has been taken to the train station in Nimes, and now there is a quiet period of reflection to go along with the work of cleaning up the garden and finishing the painting of the shutters -- the wood is always painted blue, and the job is being done this year by my friend David, partner of my friend Patricia... whereas I am painting the metal hinges and bars with shiny black "non-rust" paint, a most satisfying persnickity job one must accomplish with a very small brush. It is the editorial finishing touch.

And I will finish now, for tonight. Mas Blanc is resting under a sky filled with stars, and a moon that is filling out nicely. A good way to end the day.