Damson Wine and Time to Reflect …

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Last year when we survived a plum blossom storm that resulted in a surfeit of damsons and plums. Ate them like a hero, crumble, stewed,, every which way … and turned some into wine. Six demi-johns have been sitting on the back bedroom window ledge since last year. Generally neglected (save for almost guilty “must-do-that-tomorrow” thinking) and gathering dust.
So, as a respite from battling nettles and enthusiastic brambles at the allotment today, we had a go at bottling the wine. Bottles we collected from a lorry spill over ten years ago, corks from the market stall, patience from wherever it comes from.
Surprisingly none of the contents of the brown demi-johns has gone off: a bit of a fear when we started, then, frankly a curse as the carrying and siphoning went on and on and on …

Taking a break in the mid-morning sunshine on the sun-baked back lawn with, ironically a cup of tea, we took five minutes of quiet. Beneath the too-far spread umbrella of mock orange which is shedding pure white petals and a divine scent , attracting bumblebees and a hunting robin pair.
Like a few moments on the plot yesterday, between the water carrying and planting runner beans. Time to notice and enjoy all that has been done and all that is happening. I am generally not good at doing this – so the intense heat (30 plus Celsius is sweatbox hot for me) slowing me down did me a favour.
The cinnabar moths raiding the flowers in the “mini-meadow”, the exotic poppies that survived being weeded out that rise like flower fairy towers from the Potato Haulm Forest, the dipping flights of swifts, the woven spider nets visible every now and again, the ants working away where this year’s parsley is expanding and pot marigolds are flourishing. Small sounds from the wildlife pond behind the bench I am sitting on (note to self: when I get moving again it needs topping up, the heat has evaporated it at a tremendous rate). The leaves of the now established pumpkins spreading out like something from a John Wyndham story. A trio of scarlet pimpernel plants on the potato ridges remind me of hours spent learning the names and associations of wildflowers as a child. The green wealth of the hedge inter-planted with gooseberries … and the strawberry masses.
Strawberries, that snaps me back. We have been dealing, gratefully with a glut of these. We have neighbours now who will not answer the door because they know we will only offer them buckets of strawberries (perhaps I exaggerate, but only a little) and have decided to make strawberry wine. There are, I suspect “wine experts” on every allotment – and why not? – but we have a great book called “Drink Your Own Garden” (Judith Glover) that has easy to follow instructions …
… and we need to empty the demijohns of last. Years. Damson. And. Plum. Wine.

Somewhere in the background (although it’s possibly rolling in from memory) I swear I hear someone singing softly:

There’s a Hole in My Bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza, a hole…”



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