I had a lovely weekend. Up early on Saturday to get to the market before heading to the community garden. Picked the last of the tomatoes there then pulled up and chopped up the remaining plants and removed the stakes and string which had been holding them up. Picked the dried parts of another plant as well. I did ask what it was but since I didn't have anything to write with the name didn't stay with me for long. Some kind of an oriental which had a lovely scent to it, a bit citrusy and really good. The master gardener said that we'll harvest the seeds out of those dried pods on one of the days in winter when it might be too cold to work outside. The parts of the plant which weren't dried were chopped right back then. And finally I dug a big hole so that the buckets of jerusalem artichokes packed in sand could be buried. We put the buckets in, covered them with other slightly bigger buckets placed upside down over them and then packed the earth back in around and over them.
Then I had an hour to myself at home before heading out to a Darkness Ritual. This was at the same place I went to the Harvest Thanks Ritual at the end of September. This time the idea was all about accepting the darkness of winter into your life and letting go. It was a far more introspective ritual than the harvest one was, much more meditative. I didn't enjoy it as much and found it difficult to focus really but when trying to concentrate on what it was in my life that I needed to let go off I found myself thinking that it wasn't letting go I needed to do but rather holding on. I was thinking about my oldest sister, who hasn't spoken to me (or most of my other siblings) for about three years now. As is the way things always go in our family there hasn't been any big argument or anything so there's nothing to work on to try and figure out what the matter is. It sort of started when she was going through a hard time after her hubby had been sick and she really just wanted to retreat from the world for a while so we gave her her space as requested but she just got less and less interested in keeping in touch with any of us at all. I persevered for longer than the others, even calling in unexpectedly once but you do get tired of the two minute phone calls which end with a sudden "I have to be somewhere else" and always being the person making contact and when she didn't even bother to show any interest in our youngest sister's wedding I had had enough. I've been through so many stages on this whole roundabout that it was impossible to keep track. I'd decide it was her tough luck and if she wanted to be like that then fine, whatever. Then it'd be her birthday and I'd think well, I'll just ring and say happy birthday. Or I heard her hubby was sick again (and bear in mind, this is a guy who married into my family when I was nine, so he has been around for a long part of my life) and would ring to find out how he was. I don't think I actually managed to speak to her for the last three years or so though. Either no-one or her hubby would answer the phone. But last week I had a really strong compulsion to just phone her and ask if we could start talking again. Don't know where it came from although part of it was because I realised that I hadn't turned my calendar onto October and I know it was because I didn't want to have to think about her birthday (it didn't work and her birthday really preyed on my mind this year, more so than usual). So, I decided that the thing I needed to let go off was all the hurt and anger and grief that this whole situation has caused me and then I just needed to make contact with her. So when I came home after the ritual I gave her a ring, her middle son was just heading out so answered the phone and almost immediately said "hang on, here she is now" (I'll never know whether, if her hubby had answered the phone, she might have realised it was me and made signs at him that she wasn't there, which I suspect happened more than once in the past) and put me on to her. I didn't go with the self-pitying, somewhat dramatic "please can we start talking again" in the end but was able to use halloween as my excuse for ringing and start a conversation by asking if she had dressed up or done up the house or anything. It was a bit of a stilted conversation in a way, felt like it was taking a lot of effort, if you know what I mean, but we did talk (well, mostly I talked) for about twenty minutes which is a good start. I've just decided that I'm going to ring her at least once every two months and talk to her whether she wants it or not and that I am not going to give her the opportunity to turn around in 20 years time and tell me that it was all because I was so wrapped up in my own life that I was never interested in what was happening with her. I'm just going to keep on keeping in touch and she can like it or lump it but if she wants to lump it, she's going to have to say that directly.
There you have it. Despite the fact that I didn't like the ritual as much as the last one, I am glad I went and have signed up for the solstice one in December. Something good (hopefully) came of the whole thing at least. And I do really like the idea of marking the seasons in some way.
Yesterday then I had my fabulous session of trying on clothes I thought would still be too small but weren't. While doing that I cleared a proper space in my wardrobe to store the dried goods I've been trying to stock up on a bit. I also started a spreadsheet to make sure I keep track of exactly what I have and when it's good until. It was good to see it all in one place. I realised that I have plenty of pasta but really should get some more rice and some other pulses as well. I'm going to ask at the fair trade shop if they can buy in a big sack of rice and depending on how much that is, might just buy one big sack and make it into little ones myself.
After doing that I headed out for a walk. Did the same round as before so about two hours of walking. I'll probably do it again another two or three times (maybe with a slightly heavier bag) before looking at a different route.
When I got home I did the few bits of washing up from the day before, put some pasta leftovers covered with cheese into the oven to heat for dinner and chopped up some apples for the dehydrator. Once I had eaten, I set about chopping stuff up to make tomato ketchup and while that was cooking I chopped veg to make soup, using up the curly kale that I had brought home from the garden. I also chopped up veg and tomatoes to make a sauce for lunches during this week. Once the ketchup was made and bottled (only two 120 ml jars, I swear I get less and less out of that recipe every time I make it) I put the onions, courgettes, garlic and tomatoes on to cook with a load of herbs and when that had softened up well I added in some chopped chicken breast. I left it cooking but it never really seemed to start smelling good so I finally dumped a slug of balsamic vinegar and a few crushed dried little chillies into it. It remained uninspiring but I got four good sized portions out of it. What a difference a night makes though. I had the first one for lunch today, just bought a roll to eat it with and it was delicious. I think I'm finally starting to be able to use chillies in cooking properly.
I left some porridge steeping in milk overnight and had the first porridge of the winter for breakfast this morning. Hmmm, I love porridge. Off to put more steeping now for tomorrow and will add a handful of the dried berries from earlier this year. They were a delicious addition this morning.