Getting back to doing all those things I normally do is making me feel more at home. So it has been a week of returning to green and thrifty. It's been a while, but good to begin some small, absorbing thrifty projects again.
A couple of weeks ago my mum brought me apples from her tree, and on our moving day Rosy and her friends picked some apples from our trees to bring to our new house. This week I stewed the last, sad ones with some rhubarb, which also came from mum's garden. I must repeat again my oft-repeated best rhubarb tip because it is so brilliant: add a quarter teaspoon bicarb soda (baking soda) to the pan when cooking rhubarb. The soda neutralises the acid in the rhubarb somewhat, which means you need to add much less sugar.
Today my new neighbour ran across the road to bring me a bag of brussels sprouts because they get a vegetable box, and don't like sprouts. Did you know I have a secret super power? People bring me things. Even people I have just met, or sometimes people I have never met. It is odd but good. Now I feel confident to take a pair of pink glitter gumboots over to her daughter, being as she seems to be of the excellent 'swap things among neighbours' fraternity (I can't think why, in all the decluttering I do all the time, I still have a pair of pink glitter gumboots to fit a five year old. And I even moved them to the new house..).
My mum brought me a bag of pine cones as fire starters. She has been collecting them on her walks. I brought an armful of river driftwood home from our week end picnic for the same purpose.
I have been picking rosemary, parsley and rhubarb from my new garden, and the last of the lettuce and some beets from the pots I moved from the old house. Food from the garden is the homiest thing I know. Except a fire. That is good too. I have worked out how to keep the fire crackling along all day. I wish I could tell you I spent the weekend with the wood-splitting axe splitting all my own wood, but I didn't, I stimulated the local economy and got a nice man to come and do it for me. I now have a shed full of perfect small logs just the right size to fit in my perfect small wood heater. Tonight I am experimenting to see if I can keep the fire going all night. Will report in the morning.
This morning: No luck with keeping the fire going overnight, despite filling it full when I went to bed and turning the vents to their lowest setting. Then, in my bedtime reading (one of the Miss Read novels, published in the 50s) I found this sentence:
March that year was one of the coldest that Fairacre had ever known. The nights were bitter, and cottage fires were kept in overnight with generous top-sprinkling of small coal dampened with tea leaves, and stirred into comforting life first thing the next morning.
Then I dredged from my memory the word 'smoor' which I must have also read in a novel, because where else do I learn anything? This is what I found:
Vbl.n. smooring, a ritual damping down of the domestic fire at night, once common in the Highlands in Catholic districts, Gael. smaladh an teine. Also attrib.