Friday, 29 May 2009
Last year we made loads of fruit liqueurs in the Autumn. Willow quite rightly pointed out that we'd neglected to make any nice drinks for the underage half of the household, I promised her that this year we'd put that right, so today, Willow, Xanthe and I made elderflower cordial (don't tell Willow it also tastes nice with gin!)
The conditions were perfect, hot, dry and still. For a common plant, elder is surprisingly sparse around our house, I'm only aware of 3 in the vicinity, one in our front hedge and 2 down the bridleway opposite. We stripped the one in the garden (12 heads) and set off down the bridleway. Elder no 2 only had 6 or 7 heads in full flower so we made our way down to the 3rd one.
As I looked up ahead I saw a small muntjac deer cross the footpath. Muntjacs aren't as impressive as the larger red deer, they're about the size of a large dog, don't have antlers and some churlish people complain they're ugly. However, I can't shake my urban upbringing and am always wildly impressed by seeing any type of deer so I grasped the opportunity to make some idyllic childhood memories for my children.
I hissed at the kids "There's a deer!! A DEER!!!!", dropped my bag of flowers, picked up Xanthe, grabbed Willow's elbow and started trotting down the path. "Where Mum? Where?" Bellowed Willow at top volume "SHHHH!!!!! There he is, there, going across the field!"
"I can't see, can't SEEEEEE" So, ignoring squeals about nettles, I pushed Willow through the long grass at the side of the path so we could get through to the edge of the field and get a clear view of the little deer.
Just at the moment Willow burst into tears at being nettled the muntjac plunged through the hedgerow into the cemetery next to the field so neither child got to see him. With great restraint I didn't swear and used the opportunity to teach Willow to identify dock leaves. Let's hope Willow fondly recalls the idyllic sunny spring day of 2009 when Mum pushed her into a bed of nettles. Sigh.