Today is the first time, since the start of the holidays, that I have been alone.
As I write, it’s quiet. Really quiet. Almost forgotten how quiet feels. I can hear an insistent woodpigeon calling but that is the nearest to the usual fanfare of children. I have the house all to myself for a few hours. Although I am missing them, I do need this time to myself.
(Note to self: I must make a few more harvest aprons as presents. Pick peas and pop in the expanding pocket, leaving both hands free.)
It is probably the lack of interruptions that allowed me to ponder. You see, earlier, as I sat outside our kitchen door, wearing my handmade, kitchen garden apron, in the shade of our old cottage, I couldn’t help thinking how podding peas is a leveller. Not just peas, but the preparation to store any edible goodies from the garden.
(Heritage Pea variety: Ne Plus Ultra)
If any of my ancesters had walked round the corner, or even former inhabitants of the cottage, they would have instantly known what I was doing. A far cry from many of the activities that fill our days. Can you imagine how difficult it might be to explain mobile phones or computers to your Great, Great Great Grandmother? Microwaves, dishwashers, washing machines. The list goes on.
No, podding peas would be something that they understood instantly. Something they could relate to. In fact they may have pulled up a chair and helped me pod my basket full of pea pods. They would have known what to do, and more than likely, shared their wisdom by telling me what I was doing wrong. I’m sure I would learn a lot.It’s not just a leveller with ghosts from the past. I have sat in kitchens in foreign lands and helped prepare food for storing. I can’t remember podding peas, but certainly bottling tomatoes and de-stalking blackcurrants. I have not necessarily shared a common language with some sat round the table, but we have communicated. We have got on with the task, and bonded in the way people do around a kitchen table. We all knew what to do.
One kitchen I remember was in France. It was the neighbour of a friend. Although they understood my shaky french, I was finding the neighbour’s accent difficult to navigate. The seven year old grandson stepped in. A mixture of his few words of english and lots of gestures seemed to bridge the gap. We parted as good friends and the garden offerings were ready for preserving.
(some pods set aside for next year)
Today, I had the company of just the dogs, and a mob of sparrows using our drive as a dust bath. I think they must be youngsters, judging by their noise and jostling.
Maybe the lack of (helpful) companions conjured memories of former times. Either way I now have a bag of homegrown peas in the freezer. A happy feeling. Especially as my children have probably eaten twice as many peas straight from the plants over the summer months.
They call them garden sweets, as they are super sweet when snuck from the stalk young. I’m going to miss looking out of the kitchen and seeing the children working their ways up and down the lines, checking for rattling pods.
Ah well. Until next year, then.