Spent a lovely morning in the garden today. After heavy squally rain lashed the house off and on all night the morning was quieter than I expected, though not quiet enough for a spa. When I stepped out I turned right back around and came in for breakfast.
Finally the ground was wet and I sorted out planting priorities with thirsty plants baking in their pots waiting for a day of rain so they could be planted out. No matter how much water I gave them, their heads seemed to turn and beg me for more as I swept past doing jobs. Echiums and snap dragons which grow tall, went in the back of the flower beds by the cottage. Others bought at a gala and I forget what they even are but was sure they should be in the front. I got the Verbenas in too and lined up three glossy green leaved fragrant gardenias for pots that can go by the spa.
A fragrant garden is barely noticeable through the day but comes into its own in the evenings as the night air is denser and heavy, so the perfume sits low where you can really enjoy it. The franjipani outside the front of our bedroom is just finishing its months of heady scent as the jasmine kicks in on the other wall and hot on its heels will be the choysia with a soft scent and creamy white flowers that catch the moonlight coming up to the front door. In the front the sasanqua camellia hedge gives us a showy bouquet twice a year if I get my pruning right.
By the spa the silk tree stretches its limbs laden with pretty pink tufts and a delicate perfume. A treat in my evening spa, and as it finishes, the gardenias in pots should be in full flush. With different Michelias from the magnolia family popped in here and there it’s been good luck rather than good planning and I enjoy the surprise of it as the sequence of blossoms roll around another year.
My plan this year is to plant in every tiny gap I can see so weeds don’t stand a chance to take over like they have in the past. As I am super stingy with watering, from a time perspective as well as a limited supply of water, I never normally plant at this time of year and am grateful for every bit of rain. When people grizzle about the rain and what a ‘stink summer’ it’s been I just smile secretly as I celebrate every little drop. I am not adverse to a rain dance in the evenings to keep it up! Sorry folks…. Yep it’s me making the rain. I’m just such a good dancer. Haha!
I had limited time for planting today though as we were meeting Kate and David from Brać, Croatia at Maree’s for lunch. Kate is a distant cousin on my Croatian side and immigrated to NZ for a few years before returning to Brać and we visited them on our trip there. I decided scones were the quickest and easiest thing and flicked the oven on, on the way to the shower. Two batches were soon in, one cheese and one date and I smiled as I remembered the many years it took me to perfect the art. Not that I’m perfect. Hell no.
Mum never made scones. Her specialty was pikelets. Stacks of them turned out from an old fry pan that had one leg propped up so it was perfectly level and the pikelets were beautifully round and evenly coloured. I tried and tried but mine were all wiggly edged, too brown and yet uncooked in the middle. Lindy can do a perfect plateful and perhaps even better than Mum’s, dare I say. We used to laugh about having a bake off sometime. Gilbert’s Mum however made scones every Sunday. Hot and buttery they came out a bit more like cakes than scones, and as I watched I realised she put an egg in hers. So every Sunday I carried the tradition on and made scones for our family.
In the beginning nothing about them was okay. They were hard and dry and had trouble going down sometimes. But every Sunday Gilbert encouraged me to make a batch, telling me they were getting better and better with each making. I tried all different recipes until one day when I was teaching in a kindergarten the head teacher there made scones and she shared her secret. Mix as lightly as possibly so the milk and flour only just joined. Keep the mix fairly wet and don’t knead like you are making bread, she advised. The less handling the better. It worked. I was finally making headway. The children loved them and bounded to the table as soon as they came out of the oven and it was always somewhat satisfying being able to come in and throw the ingredients into a bowl and know for the most part they would be enjoyed. I used to make date ones for Chee who couldn’t have dairy with his excema and a kibbled wheat, parsley and cheese batch as well. Mum congratulated me on this skill she had never managed to master and sometimes we would drop a couple in to her for a morning or afternoon tea treat. It wasn’t this that made me smile today though.
I remembered an Asian exchange student we had once years ago. I had made scones for Sunday lunch and he told us he had never eaten or seen anything like it. The next day he came home from school and asked me after dinner if I could help him with his homework. “Of course”, I said wiping my hands on a tea towel as I sat beside him. “I have to write about what we ate for lunch yesterday”, he explained. I thought back. Ah yes. I had made scones. I spelled the word out for him as he wrote it down. “Now I have to describe it”, he said. “Aha, I nodded. Well. How would you describe it?” I encouraged him. Not to put words in his mouth but soft, warm, buttery…perhaps even ‘prize winning’ came to mind. I waited patiently as he struggled to find the words he wanted to use.
“I know the words, he said after a bit of thought, but I don’t know how to write them”. “That’s okay, I smiled. Tell me the words and I will help you with the spelling”. “Ok. Ummm….hard,” he started. I was confused. Did he mean it was hard work? Surely he didn’t mean my scones were hard? “Yes, he agreed, he did in fact mean my scones were hard. “..And dry”, he continued as he got the hang of the words. “And small,” he added. Yes. That’s exactly what he wanted to say. “We had small, hard and dry things for lunch. They are called scones”. I sat there a bit dumbfounded and watched as he leant down with his pencil and then looked up at me expectantly. “How do you write small?” he asked. “Okay, ummmm S. M. A….” It took forever to write it and I went back upstairs and told the others who thought it was hilarious. Thanks guys. I remember thinking how funny it was going to be to have his English teacher mark his work next day and have a very strong impression of what scones were like at the Joe household haha!
I’m glad to say my scone making improved from there and I got nothing but compliments today…or maybe they were just being nice?