Welcome to Moments of Wonder for the month just past; February 2016. I have related to the witch out of The Wizard of Oz as I spent most days feeling like I was melting. It has been horrendously humid so I am very relieved that we are now into autumn (in Sydney) and I’m looking forward to the humidity packing itself off to the other side of the planet for a year or so.
The hot and humid mornings have had one positive. The sunrises have been absolutely spectacular and I’ve enjoyed trying to capture them each morning during my morning walk.
The most wondrous thing of all happened to me in February. My new book Caro & Co ~ Helping Kids find Wonder in the Everyday is now officially on its way to being published! It will feature over 150 outdoor or nature-based activities, recipes, seasonal eating and planting and craft ideas for kids (aged 2-9). The team at Sally Milner Publishing and I are in the throes of edits and it will be on-sale internationally in December 2016.
I want to show people how easy it is to find wonder in everything we do ~ indoors and outside and of course wonder is amplified tenfold when kids get into nature. The book will feature activities during the various seasons (eating, planting and getting outdoors), recipes, craft activities, what to do when weather is inclement, how to foster imagination and discovery and so on. I also have chapters where I provide tips on how to enrich the senses and also learn about various concepts such as colours, shapes, letter, numbers, time and the web of life ~ all with a focus on the outdoors. I’m so thrilled that my writing will have another place to call home. Do contact me if you’d like to order an advance copy.
Meantime, I’m crafting the look for our Easter celebrations. I just adore these little nests from Papaya. Our family always celebrates Easter at our farm with longtime friends. It’s become a lovely tradition and it’s a beautiful time of the year to be on the Southern Tablelands of NSW. Autumn has arrived, the trees are turning, the skies are impossibly blue and the snakes are starting to slow ~ always a blessing!
Food and quality wine always plays a big part of the festivities. Fish on Good Friday, followed by an enormous feast of roast something for Sunday lunch. I’m afraid Church doesn’t get a look in but we do spend time reflecting on friendship, love, conviviality and community. Egg hunts are held and this year we’ve changed it slightly and for the first time, the kids will hide the eggs and the adults will be the seekers! I have a feeling that we won’t find a single egg, such will be the skill of the kids in hiding them. All of us look forward to visiting the annual Bigga Markets. What started as nothing much more than a glorified garage sale, now boasts over 30 stalls selling delicious foodstuffs, craft, plants and bric-a-brac. If you happen to be near Bigga on Saturday 26 March take a look.
Autumn means some of my favourite vegetables are coming into season. We’ve been eating Cauliflower (a much-underrated vegetable in my opinion) in salads, with roasts or just by itself. Try slicing it finely and pan-frying with a good knob of butter until soft and starting to turn golden. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and I guarantee you’ll be a convert. Okra, Pumpkin and Turnips are also on offer and are quite delicious roasted, sprinkled with some soft feta and a drizzle of some robust extra virgin olive oil. I can highly recommend buying some Alto Olive Oil if you get the chance. Produced on the Southern Tablelands of NSW, it is full-bodied and perfect with a multitude of dishes. Better still, it is reasonably priced.
I’m learning next month how to keep bees. So exciting! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time as many of the world’s bee populations are in decline. I currently don’t have anywhere to keep them, but when I do, hopefully I’ll be knee deep in honey in no time and will feel good that I’ll be doing my bit to protect the humble bee from extinction.
My daughter, along with a gaggle of her girlfriends and I went to the Crookwell Picnic Races last weekend. It was delightful to watch the girls wandering around in their cute Dotti frocks with a cloud of young boys in tow. It would appear that Dotti clothing is very much the must-have choice of 13 year old girls. The races are such fun. Only ever around 4 horses in each race so it’s hard to ‘do your dough’. Very homey, but with so much colour and movement, it’s always quite the spectacle.
Sadly, this month some things just continue to leave me wondering. To date, over 250,000 people have been killed as a result of the conflict in Syria. That’s a quarter of a million people. According to World Vision, 4.6 million people have fled Syria with a remaining 6.6 million left displaced within the country. At least half are children. It is the greatest humanitarian disaster of the modern era and there appears to be no end in sight to the barbarity. If you can, I’d urge you to support the vital work of World Vision by donating here. www.worldvision.com.au/Syria
I am also left speechless by the out of control train wreck that is the Donald Trump campaign. That a narcissistic bigot has got this far in the U.S. primary process leaves me speechless. Totally speechless.
Onto lovelier matters.
I’m reading David Malouf’s latest offering, Ransom. It’s a compelling re-telling or reinterpretation of several sections of Homer’s Illiad. For any of you who have read The Odyssey or The Illiad, I urge you to pick up a copy of Malouf’s book. It’s sheer genius. He is arguably Australia’s greatest living author.
On my beside table is John Newton’s latest book, The Oldest Foods on Earth. John writes, ”This is a book about Australian food, not the foods that European Australians cooked from ingredients they brought with them, but the flora and fauna that nourished the Aboriginal peoples for over 50,000 years. It is because European Australians have hardly touched these foods for over 200 years that I am writing it. We celebrate cultural and culinary diversity; yet shun foods that grew here before white settlers arrived. We love ‘superfoods’ from exotic locations, yet reject those that grow here. We say we revere sustainable local produce, yet ignore Australian native plants and animals that are better for the land than those European ones.” Wow! About time. I can’t wait to read this book and learn more about how to use and where I can source indigenous food.
What filled you with wonder in February and what are you looking forward to in March?
Until next time…