Today is a special day, and not just because it’s the first day of summer or even that it is father’s day… Trouping through the 7 foot grasses, evading the swarms of deer flies, sweat dripping from your face and then you come to it- a mountainous shrub covered with cream colored flowers beckoning you forth with the most alluring aroma … it is the first day of elderflower harvest.
Pinching off the umbrels and delicately setting them into our bags until they formed a mound of sweet floral nectar just begging to be made into a new batch of St Steve’s cordial is more than a sign of the season, it is a sign of life …and just really cool.
Some of these flowers will find their way into a fresh batch of St. Steve's Elderflower Cordial right away. The rest of them will be dried - a beautiful reminder of what's to come - a taste of mid-summer's day in the dead of winter.
We think lace must have been invented because elderflowers are so fleeting...
The skies are gray with low clouds that seem just out of reach. The air, moist and thick but with a warmth that bedevils any sense of dreary. Plumes of green foliage spring from the earth that was so recently nothing more than a frozen white canvas. The mirrored pond flickers to and fro as the converging ripples dance from the unseen life frolicking below its surface.
The artic kiwis stretch their arms across lanes to hold hands with their sisters forming a dense catacomb of intertwining green. These arms are laced with a myriad of small white flowers, beckoning pollinators with their sweet aroma, offering gifts from their delicate jewels. Touched by a breeze, this buzzing mass of life dances to the rhythm of summer, it is chaos and unkempt but it is also marvelous… if you can slow down and take a breath and then listen… and if you listen long enough then maybe, just maybe you can hear the music.
We like to make it sound romantic, idyllic and earthy. The idea planting of a seed and harvesting food can do that, but farming is at its essence a business and although we grow year-round we are still ruled by the seasons.
In autumn, we prepare, plan, and store for the long cold winter that awaits us, hoping we have done enough. The winters are always cold and dark, but some are really cold. Not only can we keep things alive, but can we survive the added expenses and limited production that come with it?
Spring, ah yes- spring! Spring is the seasonal turn of the economic cycle. The end of annual recession, spring is hope shown in all the glory of budding shoots and tilled fertile soil.
And that brings us to summer. Beds are full and the fields are planted and turning green. This is the time to pay off the debts of winter and invest for the future. It is the time to make hay… and kale, arugula and basil. The time to work from sun-up to sun-down and a little longer on market days. The farming life is paid for in the summer and we can only hope we can make enough to get us through the seasons that lay in wait.
It is the season of plenty, let us rejoice and be glad. The mortgage is caught up and the basil, arugula and even mizuna all look great……………. OK, enough of lollygagging, let’s get back to work.