26 May 2010
Elderflower cordial hunter gatherer
In the olden days, much further back than those olden days that older people say were much better, women would be the gatherers. Spending long amounts of time foraging with the aim of staying alive. The thrill of the hunt was all very well and good but it was these hours of spine bending stooping, looking and picking which formed the bulk of early humans diet with meat only on the menu once in a while. I can't say that I had all this in mind when I set off on my bike to find elderflower. I was inspired by a lovely matt paged book called Homemade by Ros Badger and Elspeth Thompson. It features things to make each season. Being spring/summer the thing to make is elderflower cordial. What started me thinking about being a gatherer was the process of doing this. You begin to see nature differently when you are looking for something in it. Its not just a background to your activities it is your activities. The book said that I needed 10 flower heads. The flower heads were high up, this would require a tool, a forked twig was employed for the job of pulling down the branches. 10 flower heads in the bag and a conversation with some nearby goats later I set off back towards home. But it wasn't in the same vein as usual. I stopped my bike three times along the way. One was to pick some more flowers from a much healthier looking crop I spotted closer to home. The next to cut some beautiful white lilac to go in a vase and the third at the local shops to buy further supplies for my brew. All mixed up and sat for 48 hours under a cloth in the pantry it could turn our tasting really bad but that probably doesn't matter too much. Life's enjoyment is most probably directly proportional to the amount of effort you put into it. Modern day life aims to make everything easier, more convenient. You can pick up any nationalities food processed and packaged from a supermarket shelf. If this was all so great why does it always feel so fulfilling when you do things like bake a cake and it comes out roughly cake like, travel to get something you really want to eat, walk miles and suck on an orange at the top of a hill? Our memories aren't made up of things like, "Do you remember that time we went to the shop and bought a packet of Findus crispy pancakes (other crispy pancakes available). Aren't memories often made up of the times we inconvenienced ourselves and really felt the glow of our efforts.