June has had a few hot and humid days, just one at a time in between cooler, less humid days. This is my kind of weather. But today another heat wave began and it is to last for a few weeks, perhaps for the rest of the summer.
So this morning I sat on the back porch until it felt uncomfortably warm. It was lovely while it lasted. The sun shone, the scent of roses wafted onto the porch each time the breeze passed over Granny’s Rose bush. The morning on the porch was wonderful.
And that is when I saw it. A smallish robin hopped across the lawn, then disappeared into the red currant bush. They seemed very busy in there. I had to investigate. Sure enough, that robin was feasting on my red currants! I watched throughout the morning as they left the bush, only to come back a short while later to see if any more currants had ripened. That little raider repeatedly returned for more, and they weren’t telling the other birds about those currants. I think they got most of the crop. Attila will put bird netting around the shrub, so we will see if any currants get harvested by humans. Next summer the bird netting goes up in mid-June.
We visited a u-pick farm over the weekend, and picked eight litres of strawberries. So expensive, $36. The picking wasn’t great, the hired pickers had been through the patch, so really we were gleaners. It took quite a while to fill our baskets. Unused to working on my knees, or bending down to the ground from the waist, I found picking a little bit painful. I did pick four litres though, as did Attila. It was a lovely drive there and back again, which made it a really nice outing.
When we got home from picking the strawberries, I went to work in the kitchen. They are best when fresh from the field. As the sun fell late that day, a dozen 500-ml jars of Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate sat cooling on the kitchen counter. Two tablespoons of the concentrate in a tall glass of cold water makes a delicious and refreshing summer beverage.
Yesterday was busy in the kitchen again. I baked bread, made ginger tea, and a batch of gelatin dessert. I had always used packets of Jello in the past, commercially packaged gelatin in fruit flavours. But lately I’ve experimented with using Knox unflavoured gelatin to make a treat just like Jello, only with less sugar, more nutrients, and no chemical additives. I started with what I had, an unopened box of Knox gelatin powder, four packets to the box. This gelatin is old, over 30 years old I would say, purchased before I met Attila. Back in the days when two such boxes of Knox gelatin cost 2 for 45 cents, or 23 cents a box. Now the same product costs $3.99. I wondered if it was still viable. Using my home canned Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate, I made up a mason jar of knox gelatin, water and the concentrate. It was delicious, and the Knox gelatin certainly had not lost it efficacy, and it still tasted fine.
Yesterday Attila brought in the final rhubarb harvest. I had only used four litres of the strawberries to make the concentrate. There was fresh produce to process, but I was too tired to press on.
This morning the strawberries were washed and heaped high in a bowl. They were taken out to the back porch, along with a paring knife, a second big bowl for the hulled, and a smaller bowl for the hulls. Attila had brought me a folding table up from the basement, which was set up on the porch to serve as a work station. It took hours to hull those strawberries! How pleasant it was to sit listening to the birds, feeling the breeze, breathing in the scent of sun warmed roses, watching bumblebees, and bees of all sizes and shapes, lazily circle the pink roses.
When the strawberries were hulled they were taken back indoors and placed in a cooler. Out came the cutting board, big measuring bowl, and the rhubarb that had been harvested yesterday. Another happy hour was spent on the back porch chopping rhubarb. Once chopped it came into the house and the into the cooler as well.
After a brief lunch consisting of potatoes, kohlrabi, and onions, and some homemade gelatin dessert, it was time to move on to the day’s canning project. Two batches of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling yielded nine 500-ml jars, and some left in the pot for snacking after jarring. Cooks get to taste what the goods!
Another day strip to the Camp was undertaken over the weekend. Attila works at keeping the “grass” mown, a big job.
I spent the day removing the valences and faux drapes from Grace the Trailer. Grace is a luxury model, long past her prime. The drapes don’t open or close, they are decorative only, and every window has them. I do not like them. Getting the valences off required quite a bit of maneuvering to get the screwdriver up into right spaces. What made the job truly miserable was the discovery of mouse nests, and dropping at the top of the drapes. It was not only disgusting, it required a lot of spraying hydrogen peroxide, and wearing a mask while doing the job. All but two windows are now without valences or faux drapes. The fabric was saved, brought home and washed twice. It is beautiful fabric, there are yards and yards of it. It will be put to good use on a future project.
It is my goal to remove all fabric elements from Grace the Trailer, so that all surfaces are easy to clean in the spring as we evict the winter mice. We are still catching mice even now.
For the last few years we have been remarking on the reduction of birds at the Camp. It was puzzling. But the riddle has been solved.
The huge rat snake that wanted into Grace the Trailer apparently came back to the trailer after we had left. That visit was a mistake, as a predator found it and killed it, we think perhaps a racoon. I found the snakes skeleton in the clearing, completely stripped to bare bones.
Our visit was serenaded by birds, lots of birds, different kinds of birds. They are back! It is very likely that the rat snake hunted our property, in the trees, which encouraged most smaller birds to find other nesting and feeding grounds. So much goes on in the world that we are not aware of!
Updated on Wed, Jun 22, 7:35 PM
FEELS LIKE 38
Wind 22 S km/h
Humidity 68 %
Visibility 23 km
Sunrise 5:24 AM
Wind gust 32 km/h
Pressure 100.8 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 8:55 PM
“The best mirror is an old friend.”
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