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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wassail!

Today was a slow day for me, as I'm still recovering from painting one side of the house and attending to various mowing tasks, so I potted on some lettuce and kale from the seeding flats and did dishes, then poured myself a glass of cider.

The cider is mostly apple, with some grape, pear and quince in it, and has been a hit this year, with many requests for seconds. I've been keeping it in a two liter jug and adding quarts of juice from mason jars whenever the level falls. The fermentation has been ongoing since August. There is still a dark area on the kitchen ceiling from a time last fall when I opened the jug too carelessly. 

As I was about to quaff the golden bubbly, a thought occurred to me.

We have been intrigued by the probably very ancient practice, briefly described in an episode of Edwardian Farm, of singing or reciting poetry to the trees in the orchard, and offering them a small libation. It tends to be a Decemberish thing to do, and there is a Christmas carol that seems to date from the slow transition from "wassailing" to "caroling." But what harm could there be in offering, on the last day of February, a bit of thanks and a word of caution to the young trees, some of whom have bloomed already in this winterless winter we've been having?

So I went forth.


Dear apple tree we wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear
For the Lord doth know where we shall be
'Til apples come another year
For to bear well and bloom well
So merry let us be
Let every one take off your hat
And shout to the apple tree
Dear apple tree we wassail thee
And hoping thou wilt bear
Hat fulls, cap fulls, three bushel bag fulls
And a little heap under the stairs
-- Guardian
...or words to that effect. I admit I was a little shy and may have mumbled some of it.


Here we are wassailing a pear that is in the midst of bud break ...


... and a peach that has bloomed, poor thing, well ahead of any bees that I can see. There's a big hatch of flies on, so maybe something will come and visit the peaches later in the week.

The hens took considerable interest in the proceedings, so I offered to sing to them as well. All well and good, thanks, ma'am, but perhaps a little comfrey and cleavers for dessert? So I obliged.


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