The evenings are drawing in and I like it. I love the summer but, if truth be told, I breathe a sigh of relief when it slowly ebbs into autumn.
Because in our island kingdom the weather is varied; wild and crazy one day then calm and serene the next. We are never really sure what we might get so when a warm sunny day is pulled out of the bag a strange sense of obligation takes over. We must revel in the sunshine, lie in it, bask in it, soak it all up because who knows when we may get another one. A sunny day encourages us to put our lives on hold; we must make the most of it.
Now don’t get me wrong I love warm, summers days but I think I love a sunny, late summer day more; it feels like a special treat.
They say the rain in Manchester is what makes it such an industrious, creative city. Studies show that a warm, sunny environment makes a person relaxed and subdued; no bad thing when you need a break but cloudy days cause us to think deeply and clearly.
I am in no doubt at all that moonlit evenings make the Broccoli family more industrious, especially when there are delicious jams to be made with punnet upon punnet of juicy strawberries.
The boys are busy hulling strawberries, weighing, measuring and looking quizzically at me waiting for their next instruction.
It’s why I want to do more of this in school. Because making jams, sauces and relishes is like capturing pure joy.
Some of you may know that I have the best job in the world; I work as a Level 3 Forest school practitioner in a primary school and, this year, I am giving the school kitchen garden a nudge, well, a boot up the pants actually.
Introducing children to growing and eating healthy crops lays down strong foundations for life and the skills they learn are varied and useful. Emotionally, gardening is good for the soul; simply by being outside our levels of well being go up whilst physically connecting with nature can improve our mental health. I have no doubt at all that gardening is the best way to practise mindfulness if, like me, you struggle to sit still.
My writing is interspersed with watching the youngest Broccoli make strawberry jam; he is 11. So far he has put the strawberries in the jam pan and simmered them for five minutes before mashing them with a masher. I am sitting, contentedly, at the kitchen table with a glass of red wine in my hand and Padfoot is warming my feet; the jam smells lovely.
Looking up I realise youngest Broccoli has also melted some dark chocolate over a pan of hot water and is dipping some leftover strawberries and placing them gently on a saucer; my heart is melting too.
He he turns his attention back to the jam.
“The sugar’s dissolved” he shouts ” what next!”
I navigate him to the jam thermometer and tell him it’s a waiting game.
He is learning so much.
The jam is done; it is sticky, gooey and so tasty. We stick our fingers in the pouring jug to taste. It is delicious.
Middle child has arrived and she is inspired by our industrious kitchen.
“Can I make gingerbread men?” she enquires.
“Of course you can.”
Because this is what weekends are for.