Category: The Wheel of the Year

Including the work of other writers much admired by the Witch

F IS FOR FAINT FOOTPRINTS

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Daffodils and aconites on the rec. , Cowley Street, Derby

Yes, here is the Golden Age has not quite vanished.

Here are the last, faint footprints of the Goddess …

(Publius Vergilius Maro, writing between 70 and 15 BC, loosely translated by M. E. Rose)

G IS FOR GREASY JOAN

Here’s a poem  written by Shakespeare, one winter 400 years ago.

WINTER

When icicles hang by the wall,

And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,

And Tom bears logs into the hall,

And milk comes frozen home in pail;

When blood is nipped and ways be foul,

Then nightly sings the staring owl,

Tu-whit, tu-who! a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keep the pot.

 

When all aloud the wind doth blow

And coughing drowns the parson’s saw,

And birds sit brooding in the snow,

And Marian’s nose looks red and raw,

When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,

Then nightly signs the staring owl,

Tu-whit, tu-who! a merry note,

While greasy Joan doth keep the pot.

 

G IS FOR GREEN FINGER’D VIRGIL

Here’s a poem written  over 2000 years old,  by Publius Virgilius Maro, otherwise known as the roman poet Virgil who was born 70 BC and died 19 BC.  It’s freely translated by M. E. Rose in ‘Green Finger’d Virgil’ from the Pickpocket Books series No. 9 ISBN 1873422105.

AN OLD MAN AND HIS GARDEN

I remember once, under the towers of Tarentum,

Between two yellow fields,

I saw an old man with a few acres of soil,

Unfit for ploughing, or vinyards,

Or even for grazing cattle,

Yet among the scrub he had planted a real garden.

Even when ice held fast robust little brooks, and broke the teeth of rocks,

Under his sheltering walls he had hyacinths blooming.

His the first roses in spring, the first apples in autumn.

He could transplant grown trees and have them fruiting.

There were pear trees, plum trees, lime trees, laurestines

And guarding them all a sheltering column of elms.

What a gardener – and what a bee-keeper too!

But I must get back to farming

And leave other poets to tell this kind of story.

 

 

W IS FOR WINTER

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Snowy fields near Kedleston Hall, Derby

Winter has at last arrived – and it is mid January!  We had a night of hard frost followed by a flurry of snow on the weekend.  There has lately been an uncoupling of time and temperature, and things have gone askew.  Warm winters can be more disturbing than cold summers.  A bit like when Tiffany Aching dances with the Wintersmith and, mistaking her for the Summer Lady, he falls in love with her.

Haven’t read ‘Wintersmith’ by Terry Pratchett yet?  You have a treat in store.

This is the time of year to keep body and soul together.

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One way to do this is to put a pinch of ground ginger in your tea.  It doesn’t matter what kind of tea you drink, or whether you have milk or not.  Just take a little pinch and stir it in.  You will barely taste it, but it has a magic effect.  If you have a cold, it will make it better.  If you don’t have a cold, it will prevent you getting one.  This clever tip came from the Indian check-out lady at my local Sainsburys, and I can vouch that it works.  Do try it.

Three wise colleagues recommend ginger ale if you are suffering from morning sickness.  And the next time you are on an ocean cruise, they swear there is nothing more effective than ginger ale to quell the nausea of sea-sickness when the going gets a tad squiffy in the Azores.

Y IS FOR YULE

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My advent window this year

Today is the 9th day of Christmas and ’tis still the season to be jolly.

It has been an eventful time.  My true love and I have celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary, and I like to think of us as a pair of  carthorses pulling the Waggon of Marriage up the Steep Hill of Compromise.

Time to lighten up a bit?  Then let me say that this year Christmas has been an enjoyable time, where friends and family have been embraced and an unashamed amount of food and alcohol has been consumed.* The photo above shows the window of my front room, with lights and gingerbread stars, and is part of Advent Windows, organised by my local community group, Six Streets.  (If you live in north Derby, you may like to have a look at what’s going on in the area http://sixstreetsderby.org.uk)

Yule was celebrated long ago by the people of the northern world, with mid-winter fires to lighten the darkness, much ale, roast hog and who knows what else besides. For those who are curious about such things, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  (in the excellent translation by Simon Armitage) and The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett, master of imaginative magic,  capture the spirit of Yule.

*Note the crafty use of the passive voice!

And now to help you inch towards a healthier January, yet to cunningly use up all that cheese, here is a recipe for …

CAULIFLOWER & CHEESE SOUP

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Cauliflower and Cheese Soup, soothing, nourishing and on-the-road-to-wholesome

Ingredients

  • Onions 2
  • Garlic 1 clove
  • Cauliflower 1 (mine was old and had been lurking in the shed for 10 days)
  • Bay leaves 2
  • Oil for frying 1 TB
  • Marigold stock powder 1 tsp
  • Cheese 50g or there abouts (blue cheese is good, but any cheese will do)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg and black pepper
  • Salt to taste

To make

  1. Peel and chop the onions roughly. Ditto the garlic.
  2. Trim and chop the cauli roughly – you can use the stronk and any good leaves.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the veg.
  4. Add enough water to cover and bring to the boil.  Add the stock powder and the bay leaves.  Simmer for 30 minutes until tender.
  5. Remove the bay leaves.  Liquidise the soup with a hand-held blender.
  6. Grate or crumble the cheese into the hot soup and simmer till it has melted.  Taste: it may or may not need salt, depending on how salty the cheese is.
  7. Ladle into bowls. Grate some nutmeg and grind some black pepper over the surface.
  8. Enjoy with crusty brown bread and someone nice.

 

N IS FOR NOVEMBER

Misty morning with poppy heads
Misty morning with poppy heads

Remembrance Day has come and gone, and it is still strangely mild.  I am looking forward to some wild weather and a good sharp frost.  This year, I have grown yacon, a sweet root from South America, but it can only be harvested once the frost has killed off the foliage.

I also like the frost and the wild weather for their own sake.