Summer – Yesterday in the Urewera
Standing at arms length from the black wood burning stove,
With the longest handled spoon I can find,
Stirring the raspberries and sugar, sweet, sticky, red and bubbling
In the large black cauldron.
Bubble bubble, certainly a lot of toil and trouble, much later
Jars of jam regarded with satisfaction, labours forgotten.
Steam hissing, pushing the lid, escaping from the metal kettle with the wobbly
Afternoon tea made and with a selection of homemade biscuits – each in its special tin
Peanut brownies in the tin with George III on the lid, shortbread in George IV,
Date and cornflake biscuits in George V and Louise Cake in the Cutty Sark.
In the oven, a leg of lamb, browning in hot dripping, awaiting its accompaniment of potatoes,
Pumpkin and kumaras.
Fresh mint sauce being prepared
Children sitting outdoors shelling peas,
Mother sitting on a wooden box slicing beans with near geometric precision.
Butterflies, nature’s ballerinas performing to the orchestra of a Bell Bird’s deep
Curious bovines gently butting the fence to reach clumps on the other side.
In the cool washhouse a billy of milk stands in a tub, given that morning by Ivy the Jersey cow.
It is full-bodied, enriched by summer grasses.
Later the cream is carefully skimmed off, whipped and eaten with the freshly picked raspberries, the ones that didn’t get into the jam.
Late afternoon a contingent of blue bottles arrive in the kitchen, dive bomb, whirr, depart, return.
After dark, large, black crickets emerge from a case of tomatoes.
Their legs moving in a syncopated rhythm.
The noisy acrobatic capers of Opossums tumbling on the iron roof.
Wild pigs grunt and snuffle as they turn over the earth looking for worms and tasty roots.
Moreporks return calls – a higher pitch.
I sleep, work done, all senses satisfied.
Beverly M. Smith.
78 Friends of the Urewera