Saturday, 16 November 2013

Rosehip November


SINCE THE WINDS CAME, the yellowing leaves of the year and the last apples have fallen into our gathering early dusks, and we have looked out beyond the black sky-writing of the now bare branches into the cold cold soon-come night and thought of Indoors and Fire.


We've been nearly three damp months without a usable woodburner (our only real heating), and finally finally, we have a hearth again, and we did not have to move house! It's amazing how not being able to light a fire takes the heart, in a very real sense, right out of a home. All the complexities of thatched listed buildings, landlord's house insurance, chimney regulations and suchlike, have been remedied, and the original fireplace has been uncovered from behind decades of brick and plaster. We are overjoyed with warmth!


Meanwhile, my studio has been a hive of Calendar packing. I was so pleased to have sold out within such a short space of time! Thank you folks as always for loving and supporting what I do - it makes a real and tangible difference. I have made a second order with the printers, which I will be listing for sale this coming THURSDAY NOVEMBER 21st at 8pm UK TIME (find out when that is where you are here). Be quick folks: I predict this lot will whisk off the shelves rather fast too!


Though the sunlight streams into my lovely studio, the winds also blow in through cracks between the floorboards, and so woodburner-installation shall be happening there too before long.


A painting has been birthing on the floor of my studio for some months now. It's on a large piece of oak which won't fit comfortably on my desk or drawing board, and it is almost done. I can't show you it yet, but will be sure to do so in due course. My back and knees are quite glad it's nearly finished.


In other autumnal news, those in the South West and beyond are cordially invited to come and say hello at my stall at these upcoming craft fairs this month (and snaffle the last calendars left!)...
The first will be the always cozy and convivial delight that is the South Devon Steiner School Advent Fair near Totnes on Saturday November 23rd:


The second will be a gathering of local art and craft talent on Saturday November 30th for the Chagford Winter Artisan Fayre, where you will see many wondrous creations in wood, clay, silver, pencil, paint, bronze, fabric, ink, thread, paper, wool and gem:


There have been cold, sunny November stomps on the moor, where we looked down over the valley of the river Dart, and the many beautiful ochres, umbers, ambers, rusts and browns that clothe it.


And we gloried in the low November sunlight edging the mossy moorland woods as we walked out the heavy-booted things of the year passing behind us.


I have been helping clear and prune an old overgrown local orchard where the apples are sweet and the ivy threatens to win the battle. Under the autumn crowflight, we tended trees in the smoke from an applewood fire, and learnt about which branches to cut, and which to leave to bear fruit next year. 


When the elderberries were ripe, I gathered them to make syrup - an excellent tonic for the colder months which will fight chills and ills before they get you. I followed the recipe in Roger Phillips' Wild Food. Simmer the black elderberries with sugar and cloves, then strain and bottle.


It hasn't lasted long.


And from the orchard cuttings, I rescued ripe rosehips, and bottled them dry with sugar, after making a few cuts in the skin of each hip. For this I followed the instructions in Hedgerow Medicine by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, but also those given by the mother of a friend from Bulgaria, who told me that they still make syrups by layering berries with sugar in a jar, and leaving them for a couple of months until the sugar and berries have turned into a syrup, and then straining and bottling. This retains far more of the goodness than the cooking method, so we shall see what emerges from the jar in the new year.


On which subject, I cannot pass by without sharing Rosehip November by Vashti Bunyan. This quiet, atmospheric song sits on an album she released in 1970 - Just Another Diamond Day - which she wrote whilst travelling in a wagon through Britain. It garnered very little initial acclaim, which caused this gentle soul to abandon her musical career entirely, until recently when after thirty years had passed and her music had gathered a cult following, she once again took up her guitar. Some people find this album a bit twee, but for me there's something essential and sparse and honest in the music and artwork that reminds me of the feeling in the fallen autumn leaves and in our innermost desires to sit on a dark evening by a log fire warming our toes and dreaming of the road ahead.




27 comments:

Lunaea Weatherstone said...

Oh my goodness, I love Vashti Bunyan, and I thought perhaps I was the only one. I should have known that you would like her too. As always, Rima, it is a joy to visit your beautiful world.

Tiffany Davidson said...

My favorite album by Vashti! And you did so well putting into words how that music makes you feel.
This is the first I've listened to Vashti since this time last year, and now I feel nostalgic and longing for my dead dog who died last December.

Warm, thoughtful hugs to both you & Tom. Thank you for being beautiful souls ~ knowing grins amidst sidewalk frowns.
x
Tiff

Reifyn said...

I see you've got a lovely Morsø Squirrel stove, with a depiction of a squirrel on the sides. I had one of those in Scotland; kept the whole place warm, although it's comparatively small—that's Norwegian craftsmanship for you.
I haven't gathered rosehips in years—we used to get them along the shores in Nova Scotia once upon a time. Always nice to be reminded of such late autumnal things.

Alex said...

What a great post, brimful of the season and warmth. Most excitingly (for the bushcrafter in me), it contains not only Wild Food but also what looks suspiciously like both an Opinel and a Gransfors Bruks - beautiful works of cutlery.

I'm trying to comment on blog posts I like - finding I lurk too often, without actually letting the author know their work is appreciated - which this post (and blog) most certainly is.

Thanks. Alex

Teresa Kasner said...

I enjoyed my visit to your part of the world again.. you're living a very enriched and natural life. Bravo!
((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Abby Nolan said...

Rima - I love when you share your musical tastes and your uses of nature/herblore because your art has been steeped in these things. It is so enlightening

Valerianna said...

Happy for your hearth, and the one in your studio to come! Seems a fitting way for your studio to be warmed. I'm reminded of your winter painting of all the people gathering sticks and preparing for winter. I paint with the flames of a gas burner in my studio... when winter snows blow, and I'm warm and cozy in the studio watching flames, I fall deeply into an enchanted flow.

Ms. said...

Oh, was it the wheel or fire--the first invention? Surely it was fire, I think, then love, then gathering, and all of it was art! Happy is the artist with a fire, love and art!

Velma Bolyard said...

you've painted the windingdown of the year, a good time for me, despite the loss of light and deepening cold. yay for the selling out!

Velma Bolyard said...

and i forgot to mention that beautiful color study of elderberries in the willow basket.

mama p said...

always so comfy by your hearth, and so glad for it! thanks for the music. i had forgotten her, 'til now.

Heather said...

Your woodburning stove looks so comforting. You have my sympathy for having to wait for it - I hate being cold. Beautiful seasonal photos as usual. How I would love to be near enough to visit those Fayres - they sound fascinating.

Anne said...

Hi Rima
I was just wanted to ask what species of rose you got the rose hip from?


Jane Aston said...

Beautiful Rima, I feel very nostalgic for Dartmoor after being at Dartington College, I dropped out of the college after a year and lived in a tiny place on Windmill Down, Totnes for another 5 years. The house you visited in Wales too was very special. I live in France now, similar life here. Accordians galore!!

Rima Staines said...

Thank you all, happy to hear you've toasted yourselves at this hearth :)

To answer questions...

Reifyn - yes, the Morsø is the best woodburner I've ever known! It's so lovely to have it lit again!

Alex - your beady eye is right on both knife counts! Thanks for your appreciation.

Velma - thanks for loving the elderberries.. the basket was made by me - my first attempt!

Anne - they are wild dog rose hips - that grow in many a hedgerow :)

Do hope I'll see some of you at the fairs :)
x

A mermaid in the attic said...

Sigh, I am going to have to get up VERY early to snaffle a calendar...it will be 4am here!

Thank you Rima, for a beautiful, calming post, I needed it today (been out at a rally for Climate Change Action here, in what should be lovely Spring weather, but instead has turned into high, HOT Summer, and have been alternately encouraged and mightily depressed by what it all means).

Thank you also, because it was you who introduced me to the wonderful Vashti, after reading about her on your blog 2 or 3 years ago. It might seem odd, but I find her CD really good for getting on with housework, of all things! It's gentle and lovely and full of such beautiful imagery, but also happy and full of life, and it galvanises me into action!

Anonymous said...

I woke up this morning with dream images of rose hips, elderberries, wicker baskets, and wind moving through branches, flowing through my mind :-)

Cath

Charlotte said...

Took a gentle read through and agree with all your commenters. A lovely posting. I aspire to a Morso, we couldn't quite stretch to one when we put in our fire. They are wonderful and even Tim's Finnish family use them Here is to a winter of warm fires, inspiration and elderberry cordial.

Carmine said...

What a haunting song, I had not heard of Vashti before now so thank you! Making remedies, cordials and other brews from the wild's offerings appeals to me mightily. Now, to find what my own North American locale gifts to wildcrafters and hedge witches...

Ruthie Redden said...

So glad to hear you have your fire now, they truly are the heart of the home aren't they, I love the whole ritual of stick gathering, building the fire, the lighting, and the connection to times of old. Loved Vashni Bunyan, thank you x

aEiOu said...

I am nearly 50 and would you believe, that is actually the first apple tree I have ever seen in my life! Thank you for that :-)

Velma Bolyard said...

rima--that basket--well made!

Thilda said...

Thank you for those 3 prints; Father Christmas and Girl mad as birds...
They are lovely! I got them today! :)

Moon and Hare said...

Congratulations on your stove. I grew up with a stove in the house, and you are so right, it does become the center of things warm and comforting. Lovely post.

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Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

So pleased to read that your wood-burniner is restored. Not a moment too soon as the Winter chill cuts. Good to know that you're both safe and warm.

Love from blustery Wales.

Somerset Spa Girl said...

Yum, elderberry syrup sounds seriously amazing! This is such a beautiful post, makes me so nostalgic for long walks in the British countryside!