September 11, 2012

Solidarity & Pink Apple Mousse

Most people would say that now the days are starting to get shorter and the nights gradually longer. Yet for us it feels almost the other way around, with school days kicking off at the crack of dawn and the early dusk heralding earlier fires with endless produce to cook down.

It is a challenge to remain dedicated to rest amongst all the hard work and play. But it is a commitment that we made to ourselves from the very start: this is our family life, our work life, our social life and our private life all at the same time. Therefore, daily rhythms need to be centred around the children, deadlines need to be flexible, visits need to be well spaced and good weather conditions need to be taken advantage of!

This sometimes means that developments on the house lag behind schedule, yet somehow a healthy pace is far more important than the targets. With the floor of the loft nearly insulated it already feels like winter can't penetrate quite as far as previously.

Last month we wrote a brief article for the village newsletter – introducing ourselves and our project, thanking the villagers for all their support during the floods and putting out a call for preserving jars and equipment, farm machinery and poultry, as well as announcing our intention to offer up veg boxes for the village in the new season and (as an after thought) English lessons for all ages and abilities.

The article came out at the beginning of this month and the first call came on the same day. It was the man who runs the beer cellar in the village calling on the off chance we might need plant pots and seed trays, simply keen to help in which ever way he could.

A few days later I gained a young student in need of extra English support outside of school; and then the wife of the neighbour who helped us out with his old Russian tractor turned up to ask whether we might have some tomatoes for her to buy and to tell us her husband has ten sacks of hydrated lime just lying around unused. A few hours later she came back with a box of empty jars.

Hardly a day later, a journalist called from the Sächsische Zeitung (Saxony's main daily newspaper), asking if she could do a story on us. She turned up in the midst of a major tomato harvest and happily snapped away at Saskia and her visiting grandmother chopping their way through juicy mountains of the stuff.

It turns out that the journalist lives in the next village with her family and just happens to be a food enthusiast with lots of local connections. She is a freelance writer and struggles to find much new to write about in these parts. She is now intent on unearthing as much article material as she can squeeze out of us over the coming months.

Today she called to tell us that her husband has agreed to part with their old GDR heating system that heats water pipes without a retaining tank – not as efficient as modern systems, yet simple, effective and free.

Whilst the tomatoes simply keep coming (we've now begun selling some off to a local caterer who cooks for schools) the plums are now in their prime. Raspberries still miraculously keep appearing and we are on the verge of the mighty apple season.

Up on the hill there are rows of trees already filled with fruit and one variety that inspires us every time has a gorgeous deep red colour. Inside, the flesh is almost as red as the skin. You cannot beat pink apple mousse!

Weekly column 'A Taste of Earth' published @

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