fruitful thinking

There are certain things we take for granted in life.

Like the fact that certain fruit – cherries, apples, oranges, peaches etc. – are more or less round; and the fact that others – lemons, mangoes, kiwi fruit, strawberries – aren’t. And that there are fruit like plums that can be round or not, and others, like pears, that are so special and specific that they have their own shape name: pear-shaped.

Sometimes the things we take for granted are in fact not true.
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assorted fruit

Today I bought nectarines in the market. Five big, dark fruits that will need several days before they’re anywhere near ready for eating. Five fruits that cost me £2.50.

As I walked home, I was thinking that if they ripen properly, they will be well worth it, but if, like so much produce these days, they ripen unevenly, or rot before they are truly ripe, I won’t be very happy: after all, they cost ten shillings a piece, and that is a lot of money.

I’m not sure what triggered that reversion to old money, nor quite what path it was that my thoughts followed past the old-fashioned rambling rose draped over the wall to the fruit-filled memories of childhood.
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autumn berries

I said yesterday that there still seemed to be a fair number of flowers around considering it’s now officially autumn. So today I went out to see if I could find something more seasonal to feature on the blog.

Hips and haws, blackberries, elderberries, snowberries, cotoneaster, yew and rowan… I went round gathering fruit from other people’s gardens and along the canal path – or at least gathering photos.
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autumn memories

Despite the glorious flowers still to be found in window boxes and tubs around the town, summer is officially over: the days have been getting shorter and Thursday was the Autumn Equinox.

I think all the local churches have either had their harvest festival or have it scheduled for tomorrow and the thought of harvest has reminded me once more of Spain. We didn’t pay much attention to the garden but even untended trees produce blossom and fruit as the year turns.
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food for thought

IKEA catalogue cover
With their pristine kitchens and artfully messy family rooms, IKEA homes always make me feel inadequate. Somehow the simple storage solutions aren’t enough to help me keep my house in order, though I admit that’s my problem, not theirs.

Still, there doesn’t seem much hope that spending a small fortune on stackable storage units and designer drawers will improve matters, so when I picked up a copy of the catalogue, rather than thumbing through and compiling a wish-list, I stopped to ponder the cover, which in itself provides a host of images to question and wonder at.
newspaper cones & flower pots  on the IKEA catalogue cover
Firstly, there’s the mystery on the top shelf: what on earth are those little newspaper cones?

Are they purely decorative? Are they an unfinished children’s school project – miniature Christmas trees, perhaps, waiting to be painted green? Are they paper cloches keeping seeds in the dark? (If so, wouldn’t they just collapse when watered?)

Bottled onions  on the IKEA catalogue cover

Then there are all those Kilner jars. Well, OK, they’re from IKEA, so they are Korken, not Kilner, but it’s much the same thing.

But what are they being used for? Those onions aren’t pearl onions, the tiny white ones I associate with pickling; they’re too big even to be shallots; so why have they been put in jars? They should surely be hanging in the shed with the air circulating to keep them dry and fresh over the winter.

Bottled lemons  on the IKEA catalogue cover

Bottling lemons seems quite reasonable in comparison. Except I thought you bottled them in brine or vinegar or sugar syrup. It’s all very well having an air-tight seal on the jar, but unless the fruit or veg is submerged in some kind of liquid, I don’t think it’ll keep.

Then there are all those unlabelled bottles on the bottom shelves: is that jewel-bright liquid raspberry cordial or home-made wine? In this family-friendly environment – is it family-friendly with all those heavy glass jars within easy reach of little hands? – I suspect the former.

And don’t get me started on the carrots. There are two full shelves of carrots in jars as well as the great crate-full under the trolley on the left. My mother used to say that eating my carrots would make my hair curl; it seems to have been more successful for the little girl in the picture than it was for me.

Bottled parsnips  on the IKEA catalogue cover They say fine words butter no parsnips, but, fine words or not, IKEA apparently bottle them. And turnips, too, judging from the pile on the table. (I assume the mother has just dashed out to get another hundred pounds worth or so of jars. I hope there’s an adult in the house to keep an eye on that child – after all, a trip to IKEA takes a minimum of half a day even if you only go for one thing.)

I do know about preserving soft fruits and vegetables, but it had never occurred to me that root vegetables should be bottled. IKEA seem to think they should be: carrots, turnips, parsnips… but no swedes. I wonder why.

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