I feel there have been a lot of posts recently where I start with some kind of an explanation for my absence. Of course I don’t really need to explain to anyone, this space is in many ways more for me than anyone else, so perhaps it’s an explanation to myself. I’m not in the habit of forgetting things I care about; I keep the list short. A few people, the dogs, my plants, this space. I think I’m ok about keeping up with the other three even when things are busy so I guess in terms of blogging, I kind of fall behind. For me the autumn and winter have always been the season for quiet thoughts and introspection; the slight melancholy inspires those feelings so well. The spring and summer are so brave and brazen they seem to leave you with little space to think, except maybe about when summer fruit will be best and whether gathering clouds mean thunderstorms. There are exams at this time, my head becomes overgrown like the heavy bushes everywhere and time becomes as elusive as shade at midday.
As elusive as the time I’ve had to think has been sleep. It’s been some time now since I went to bed at what’s considered a normal hour and woken up at something around objective dawn. Sleep seems to come in short dreamy bursts, where my subconscious seems very real. I dream I walk over to the window and look out at the dark street; when I wake up I struggle to separate that dusky dreamworld from myself, awake near midnight and watching the shadows of the loft’s eaves by lamplight. I walk to the window and look out, but I’ve seen it before, in my head, or had I just been at the window? The curve of the ebony road, the amber glow of streetlights; the cries of sheep in the distance, the inky sky and fleeting stars. It is a strange, fragile line to tread, fading between the familiar, enveloping night and the pleasant lightness of dreams.
Sometimes sleep doesn’t come at all. The night will be a cool mist. A hovering. On the periphery of full alertness, where there’s clarity and a difference between hot and cold, day and night. But there’s a place, a gap, between sleep and being awake, where I fall on those nights. It’s hours but I don’t look at the clock, the summer shadows melt into purple, indigo, denim, and onyx fog. The air becomes very still, like a curtain must be hung to fade out the light and provide a stage for a sliver of pearly moon and its accompanying stars. Darkness cocoons the room, my plants fold their leaves, a fan whirs. My thoughts are both lucid and liquid, I can remember them, but they don’t make sense in the pale light of the morning. Dawn arrives so early. Just after the dark sets in, the stage prepares to clear, the first hints of brightness appear. And I find that nothing around me has changed, it looks the same as when I turned off my light hours ago. It could have been minutes, an hour at most, but the night’s act is over.
It becomes slowly more difficult for me to draw solid a line between night and day, as that lack of sleep seems to flutter in a cloud all day, so sometimes daytime tasks happen in a dreamlike state. The brightness of the summer seems more translucent, like the reflection of spilled moonlight, and quiet afternoons could be silent midnight. The night has a sort of grasp, over the non-sleepers, the daydreamers, the lamplight wanderers. It sweeps into the day, like warm summer winds through swaying fields of wheat, scattering thoughts like seeds. So you stay, in that gap between the clear light of day and indistinct night, so the sun and the moon exist simultaneously, all the time, and every day fades into a feathery haze. A haze with streaks of peach, for the day; heady mulberry and smoky kohl for the elusive night, and fragile lilac for the dreamlike state between night and day.
“All night I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling with a luminous doom. By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times into something better”
- Mary Oliver, Twelve Moons
Hi. Thank you for coming back to this little corner of the world after yet another disappearance, it’s nice to be back. I hope you think so too. I bring to you a summery loaf for these brighter, longer days when aaalll the fruits are around. It’s a really simple loaf that you could use with any fruit you have (peaches would be nice). Also as you’ll see I added weight measurements to the cup measurements - I usually weigh my ingredients, it’s more precise and I find it easier (fewer cups to wash) so if you want to do the same, well now you can 😉
There’s still a lot to do around these parts but I hope you’re enjoying all the overgrown hedges, summer traffic and sweet evenings sitting out until late.
Love you xx
PS. If you have three minutes may I suggest you watch this video by two Italian filmmakers that shows a tree in Abruzzo National Park (in the Apennines), filmed over a year, and the animals that interact with the tree. Just the cutest thing that I could watch forever.
strawberry flax loaf
1c (100g) oat flour
3/4c (90g) brown rice flour
1/4c (30g) flax meal*
2tsp baking soda
1c (250ml) plain yogurt of choice
1/2c (125ml) honey or maple syrup
1tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4c (60ml) melted coconut oil
1 heaped cup (160-180g) chopped strawberries
Preheat the oven to 180’C, 350’F. Prepare an 8inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients.
In another bowl, beat together the melted coconut oil, maple/honey and eggs. Once combined, add the yogurt. The coconut oil may harden somewhat if your yogurt is straight from the fridge, so it may help to leave the 1c yogurt on the counter for a bit before you start. Add the vanilla extract and stir until batter is smooth and uniform.
Add the chopped strawbs to the dry flour mix - toss gently until the berries are covered with flour. This should help stop the berries sinking to the bottom of the cake.
Add the wet mix to the flour/berries and stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for around 60 minutes - if the top seems to be browning too fast, you can ‘tent’ it with some foil loosely over the top. Either way the top will crack, that’s ok, loaves are kind of cute in that rustic way.
Transfer to a cooling rack and let the loaf cool before cutting - like a lot of gluten free breads/baked things it will be a bit fragile before that. The loaf will keep for about 5 days in the fridge, or will freeze/defrost nicely.
*I think instead of flax meal you could use rolled oats, 1/4c (50g) should work well instead, in case you don’t keep flax around. Of course it wouldn’t be a flax loaf anymore, but will be great all the same.