walnuts in their pungent green casing, picked from our tree
There are all kinds of shenanigans occurring in this household at present; noises in the night, properties toppled over, strange rustlings and whisperings - unaccountable dreams just before waking. I do not know whether to put it down to overwork or the fact that a whole summer seems to have passed me by; tasks negelected or overlooked. Today could have been disastrous - it's not the first time we have almost set the house on fire. Just an ordinary Saturday morning; Raymond cooking weekend breakfast, me feeding the hens. I walk back up the garden with a bucketful of pungent walnuts (a typical October day, with a grey Cotswold cloud-cap overhead, mist in the trees, the grass wet and new weed seed germinating everywhere). I am greeted by an acrid fog, clouds of smoke, which my husband seems not to have noticed.
Can he not smell or see? He is grilling bacon, but it isn't that which is burning - for some unaccountable reason last night, I placed a plastic seed tray containing scraps for the hens ON TOP OF THE WALL-MOUNTED GRILL! R. did not notice it was there (why should he?); the plastic is melting and dripping down through the burners into the grill pan; the kitchen is filled with smoke. "Turn off the grill," I yell. We wait for the seed tray to solidify so we can peel it away from the metal. R. takes the grill apart ... he does not berate me for my stupidity in putting the tray where I did, high up where you could not see it. Two hours later, we sit down to a very late breakfast.
There was method in my madness of course; the need in this old house to put anything edible out of reach, be it scraps or candles or the bag of flour I left on the sideboard. It happens in phases, these episodes, a nightmare when it does. I will not spell out the culprits, but if I suggest you read - if you know it not already - the 'Pied Piper of Hamelin', all will be revealed. R. stands with a gun in the kitchen .... and I, by now completely phased (for I have not told the half of all the trauma), sit by the fire in the dark with a glass of wine and crack open and eat our own walnuts, fresh from the tree.