My Garden ~ a Kiwi's take on life

"I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills," William Wordsworth


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Jemima duck waddled into my garden

Jemima seemed most fitting to name our latest feathered friend. She waddled into our lives one morning about three weeks ago. Shy, yet trusting and friendly like Beatrix Potter’s Jemima Puddle Duck, she has let us hand feed her and even give her a cuddle, and she stops, holds her head in a way looking at us that suggests she is listening to us chat to her.

We think she is an escapee, that being from our neighbour’s duck pond across our stream where hundreds of ducks of different breeds live. Bruce happens to like ducks and geese. What child has not loved listening to Beatrix Potter’s stories about garden and farmyard animals being read to them? When they were little, I used to take my grandsons to scatter grain at feeding time. It is fun to stand in the middle of the noisy rush of quacking and honking birds, like a big city rush  hour which I no longer  miss..

In the  relaxed way things happen here, one day, we will wander over to Bruce and ask if he is missing a duck. His answer will be laconic and he will not know or even worry that Jemima has herself a new home. Bruce took on six ducks recently because their owner could no longer care for her pets. Jemima is probably from that small flock. She is earning her keep and is doing a great job scooping up the bugs and slugs in my garden. For now, Jemima can sleepover at our place and be one of the poultry girls.


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Nature Makes Food Delicious ~ quote

“If you do not try to make food delicious, you will find that nature has made it so.”

Tonight at the dinner table as we enjoyed the crispness of tasty steamed green Mangere Pole beans  and flavoursome, vivid blue, heritage Maori potatoes freshly picked from the garden, I realised the truth of Masanobu Fukuoka’s words.

My life is richer for being able to chat over the blogging community garden fences and to swap cooking tips in bloggers’ kitchens as they cook. Anything I know is because others have generously shared their wisdom or resources. Bill Mollison considers that

We’re only truly secure when we can look out our kitchen window and see our food growing and our friends working nearby.

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi  With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive  http://www.maori.cl/Proverbs.htm

 

This is my third challenge post. Thank you Carol  for nominating me for a three-day quote challenge. Please check out Carol’s Food For Thought post at https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com

In the fun spirit of voluntary participation of the challenge, nominees may choose to

  • Post for three consecutive days
  • Posts can be one or three quotes per day
  • Nominate three different blogs per day

Please check out these great blogs I follow

Waste-Less Living

Sustainable in Holdfast Bay

Tastes of Life


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‘Teach the People’ ~ quote challenge

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people. – Confucius

Some years ago when I began blogging on WordPress, I was in awe of the creative, the witty, the informative, the insightful posts by writers the world over. I was challenged by my son to extend my writing, to set up a blog, to expand my garden diary scribblings. Never did I think scratching and grubbing in my garden dirt would germinate words of reflection, thoughts about life lived as I know it. My garden is where I lose myself, or as Himself likes to tell others, where I lose either my coffee mug or wine glass. Well at least I do put them on a gate or fence post so they are easily found. It is not as if I drop them in the long grass. Truth is, I need two hands to attend to a garden task. There is always a weed to pull, an insect to watch, a tree to hug, a tomato to taste, beans to pick, a flower to enjoy.

At least it is my words that are being posted these days. Since writing those earlier posts, I feel a certain sense of amazement how my blogging horizon is expanding.  Writing is an art and like my garden plants that grow in happy companionships,  choices of words craft ideas that grow the writer’s voice.  WordPress bloggers are wonderful writers, inspiring to read, witty, sharing, encouraging, causing pause for thought. Learning is ongoing.

And, there is much to learn. My grandsons feature in some posts. As we work and talk, generational garden lore and cooking knowledge is passed on. In a previous life, my framed qualifications show the world I was a secondary school English teacher. A four-walled classroom and a whiteboard is an artificial construct. When thirty or so teenagers with diverse learning needs filled the space, the more I listened, the more I observed my students, the more I learned. They had stories to tell, to write of things that interested them. Shakespeare and poetry had to be made relevant to their lives. Luckily for me we embarked on journeys of discovery and learned together. By the time I left education nearly thirty years later, I felt I might just know a few things about effective teaching practice. From experience comes the lesson.

Thank you Carol  for nominating me for a three-day quote challenge. Please check out Carol’s Food For Thought post at  https://cookingforthetimechallenged.wordpress.com

In the fun spirit of voluntary participation of the challenge, nominees may choose to

  • Post for three consecutive days
  • Posts can be one or three quotes per day
  • Nominate three different blogs per day

 Please check out my nominees’ wonderful blogs:

Ruth’s Reflections 

NavasolaNature

Chef in Disguise  


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Preserving tradition ~ homemade jam

We all like to eat well and if you want to eat then learn to cook well. Recipes handed down through families are culinary treasures. In New Zealand when I was a child, it was common to preserve fruit and vegetables, to make our own lemonade. No convenience store down the road for us. Visitors to the farm who turned up at morning teatime quite often stayed for dinner. Food draws people together and it is nice to offer homemade preserves with other food.

Relishes, chutneys and jams that are simple to make, are staple items in my pantry, used to jus up different recipes. Each season, fruit and vegetables ripen faster than we can consume. Home preservation is a practical money-saving activity that I enjoy and the chance to do some cook creative cooking. Yesterday, I turned a surplus of cucumbers picked from my garden into a lightly spiced relish that partners well with cheeses and cold meat. It will not last long in this household.

Surplus fruit gets frozen each season and the cleanout of the freezer prompted a jam-making effort. The raspberries, strawberries, boysenberries, white sugar and pectin smelled divine as the fruit came to a boiling roll in my jam-making saucepan. Using a wooden spoon, I stirred occasionally for the six-minute cooking time.

The low-pectin berry jam recipe has varied a little from my mother’s recipe: 1.75 kg of fruit, 1.1 kg of warmed sugar  and a 70 gram sachet of powdered pectin.

It is a basic recipe. As I had enough berries, I did not want to add more fruit such as cooking apples or crabapples, as Mum usually did, even though they are  high in pectin and jell easily when made into jam. My way to check the jam is setting is to cool a teaspoonful of jam on a plate which should crinkle when pushed with a finger.

I remember my brothers always wanted jam sandwiches for their school lunches. As kids, we all loved the taste of Mum’s newly set jam spread over a slice of fresh bread. There is nothing quite like the flavour of home grown seasonal fruit transformed into a delicious homemade conserve.

 

 

 


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Spider webs ~ capturing a fleeting moment

About 6.00 a.m., a line of mist hovered along the paddock highlighted by rays of early daylight as the sun appeared over the hills. The awakening moment fogged over as the heavier morning mist rolled in low along the valley, dressing the trees in ghostly cloaks. But, the sun, relentless, rises even more, the fog dissipates and the chooks and cats let us know it is beyond their breakfast time and that we would be reported if food was not forthcoming.

Kitchen food scrap bucket and grains in hand, I walked across the wet grass dotted with small blankets of spider webbing before heading down some steps past the cabbage tree (Ti Kouka) covered with sparkling silky spider webs. My, how the spiders have been busy weaving the night away while we slept. They are hungry and set their gossamer traps to snare the insects that frequent the tree.

The circular webs are delicate and lacy in a way that seems not to be of this world. Dew drops glisten like fine diamonds on the filigree threads clasped to the small branches. I pause and ponder intent on capturing the moments of the morning.

Finally, I remember my task was to feed the chooks two hours ago. The sun has risen well above the trees and it promises to deliver another hot windless day. To a squawk the chooks have voted me the worst hen mother ever! Some busy pecking of the organic wheat and scraps ensues and it is not long before they scamper to scratch for bugs under the trees.  As I return to the house, I notice the spider webs like the fog, have gone.

Poof! A fleeting moment is now a memory.

 

 

 


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Gardening is the experience ~ the lesson follows

Word Press Daily Prompt What’s your learning style? Do you prefer learning in a group and in an interactive setting? Or one-on-one? Do you retain information best through lectures, or visuals, or simply by reading books?

Among the inspirational quotes that flash across the screen at the gym are the words, ‘from experience follows the lesson’.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines experience as

  • the process of doing and seeing things and of having things happen to you
  • the skill or knowledge that you get by doing something
  • the length of time that you have spent doing something

Learning is like being on a treadmill. I read the statistics on the cardio machine screen and know my heart rate is at the recommended cardio fitness level for my age and weight. I might puff and sweat and be tempted to shorten the process but I can’t get off while the machine is in motion. Certainly not while the person on the next machine is chatty. We exchange exercising experiences. Workouts aren’t impossible if you can hold a conversation, I was told by the personal trainer. At the end of this session, I feel better that I have achieved something.

During decades of formal learning and earning, my knowledge has been gained using the skills of reading, writing, listening, discussing, maths, working with others or by myself, observing, viewing, performing and practising. Each of these skills are interrelated with the orderly critical thinking process of remembering, understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating and creating. I am comfortable with the written word. I sweat it out with numerical logic.

Honestly, right now, I don’t know my preferred learning style.

Two hours later, I left off writing and got lost in my garden. This is where I think, reflect and dream and do. Worms, birds, cattle, family, hedgehogs, plants, possums, dragonflies, bumble-bees and beneficial insects are vibrant players in my world. It is natural to write about seasonal and weather events. It is natural to write about caring for the soil, about creating a carbon sink, about growing ecological diversity. Nature provides rich learning experiences everyday. It is up to me to be present. To make sense of the lessons. I observe. I respond. I make mistakes. It is in this way my garden happenss. It is always interesting to read what others have done in a similar situation. I reflect. In this way, knowledge is consolidated.

William’s Creative Higher Order Thinking elements influenced my former work with teachers and students. A lateral approach to learning is rich, recurring, productive and relevant to the learners’ own interests and challenges in everyday life. Certainly, I tend to be spontaneous,  flexible and have a willingness to try something new.

Right brain? left brain? At times I could wish to be more logical, better organised. Especially as Himself is so terribly logical and Mathematical. But then, I get there. I know what I mean.


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Dinnertime ~ a write dilemma

The microwave is bleeping. Dilemma! Dinner is almost ready. Do  I finish writing this blog post now, here at the kitchen table? It’s nearly 7 p.m. The family is hungry at the end of a warm summer working day. I have a glass of New Zealand Pinot Gris to hand. For writing inspiration, you understand. The wine is chilled and full of fresh fruity flavours. I’m enjoying its delicate taste.  Perhaps I’ll finish my wine as I write some more words here and now.  I’m sure the others can dish up their own dinner. Hot sweetcorn can’t be too difficult to serve. Butter. Salt. Pepper. Yum! Real easy summertime finger-licking fresh food. I know the chickens will enjoy pecking away at the leftover corncobs.