I spent the morning in the garden, my roses were overdue for a bit of a trim, and while weeds weren’t plentiful, it was always better to act early rather than late.
Of course, with that kind of job, only half my time was spent outside. The other half was spent dealing with the ‘harvest’. Some of the twigs and branches could be used as cuttings and I always had a market for them in the town. I trimmed them, then tucked their ends into a rich compost mix with a good dose of water and set them out against the cottage wall to enjoy some sun.
Distilling the flower petals for oil was far too much effort for far too little return, given the small harvest my garden produced, I simply dried them, and added them to candles, soaps and potpourris as the mood took.
The rosehips, I dried for tea. They were spread out on metal trays and set near the fire to encourage faster drying. I prefer my rosehips without mould thank you.
Yes, it’s unusual to harvest blooms and hips at the same time, but they did come from different plants and my garden isn’t particularly interested in being normal.
With the roses sorted, I went to see the bees. They directed me to the racks of honeycomb I could remove for my own use, I believe they’d stepped up production a little after my request for wax.
I took them back in to the house and cut the combs free from their frames, collecting this harvest in a large bowl. I mashed the comb and honey, then put the resulting mess into a fine wire strainer while I cleaned the frames for the bees to re-use. Once they’d been delivered back to the hives, I checked the honey was flowing, it was, slowly. Then cleaned up and made ready for my trip to town.
The honey would take hours and was fine to leave. I had things to do and was in danger of being late.
More to the point, I was in danger of not being able to run the list of errands I had before tea with Mrs Mayor.
My first stop was to the jeweller and gem merchant in the main square, she wouldn’t have a crystal ball in stock, but she’d know where to get one for me.
I put the order in and she looked at me quizzically. “Is your old one alright?”
“It’s fine, it’s just that I now have a need for one in the mage’s tower as well as my cottage.”
She blinked a little at that but forbore to ask why. She’s sensible that way.
She promised to send to the capital for something suitable and estimated delivery would take a month or so, unless her supplier happened to have something of high enough quality to hand.
I thanked her and left to chase after the next item on my shopping list. This took me out of the square and to the outskirts of the town, on the opposite side to my path home, so you see why it made sense to go in this order.
I knocked on the door of a big, low cottage with large, open windows.
The spinner came to the door, smiling when she saw me. “Lovely to see you this day Mistress, how may we be of help?”
I smiled back, she’s a lovely woman, comfortably plump with soft hands from the wool she worked with each day. Her children are all bright and well presented, it’s likely the little errand girl from the day before was one of hers now that I think on it.
I pulled an exaggeratedly tragic face. “My cardigan Mistress Spinner, I’m afraid I’ve near worn it to pieces and need to make myself a new one before the weather gets too cold. Could I order several skeins of wool from you?”
“Of course! I know the weight you’ll be liking for it, if you’re wanting the same as you have now. Do you want the same colours?”
I looked down at the cardigan I was wearing, it’s greens and browns still rich despite its wear. “It’s sensible for the forest I suppose, but it might be fun to knit in blues for a change, what do you think?”
She smiled and nodded eagerly. “I’ve just had some new blue dyes in that are giving glorious colours, shall we say three skeins? One for the front, one for the back and one for the sleeve? No, better make it four to give you the length you prefer. I can either look to give you all the same shade, or fade through from the blue to something else, as I did with that one.”
“I do like the fading, what colour do you suggest we transition to?”
Her eyes lit up and she leaned forward. “I’ve had the most wonderful luck, Mistress, the Queen has taken a fancy to my threads and has allowed me to buy some of the royal purple dye. And she said I may use it for special select customers if I was respectful about it. Blue to purple would be perfect, and I do think Her Majesty would approve of you having it.”
I laughed at that. “Mistress Spinner, that sounds perfect and please do send my thanks to all involved, should you be able. I’m itching to make a start on it already.”
“I’ll have the skeins dyed and ready for you by this time next week.”
“Thank you, I’ll see you then.”
Is it silly to be so excited about colours of wool? If it is, then I’m happy to be silly. Joy in small things is important after all.
My important errands done, I made my way back to the centre of town and my tea appointment.
The door was answered by the same little girl as before and I asked her. “Are you one of Mistress Spinner’s girls?”
She smiled. “Yes Mistress, she says since I’m not interested in wool or spinning or such, I’d best learn other things as early as possible.”
“She’s a sensible lady, and I think she has a sensible child too.”
She flushed at that, a pleased one I think, and showed me through to the front room where Mrs Mayor was waiting.
I won’t do into details, some people get a little wriggly over hearing other people’s health interests but suffice to say that Mrs Mayor has a number of options to work her way through over the coming months and I’m confident her wish will come true before the year turns.
I walked home with a nice warm feeling of accomplishment fuelling my feet, dealt with the honey, now fully drained and as golden as any would wish, and put the wax into a pot to melt.
Once I’d scooped the clean wax from the top of the goopy mixture sitting there, I emptied the pot – not something to leave until it’s cooled and poured the wax into little molds to make it easier to store and use as needed.
The rosehips would need another day or so by the fire, just to be fully dried out, so all jobs for the day were done and I could indulge in a little forward planning on the style and decoration of my new cardigan.