parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme


When I looked at the pantry shelves this morning, I realized we had no herbal jelly. Usually I make a few batches—orange basil; thyme blossom; intensely-flavoured rosemary (a perfect match for roast lamb). But not this year, not yet. Until now. One that I like is one I like to think I invented. I call it Scarborough Fair jelly and I date myself with that name. “Are you going to Scarborough Fair?/Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme…” It’s the prettiest pale green and sometimes I put a dried chili in to give the jelly a kick as well as to watch over the months as the green takes on a little of the chili’s colour

Any child of the 1960s and 1970s will remember the Simon and Garfunkel version of the old “Scarborough Fair” ballad though I loved Marianne Faithfull’s sweet and delicate rendering. When I sing this on my own (and I intend to work up a version for my grandbabies), I’ll think of Marianne’s crisp enunciation and the way she draws out “cambric shirt” in the last verse.

And cambric! What a lovely word. A finely woven cotton or linen, first made in Cambrai. I have a basket of cottons, two vintage linen single-bed sheets, and even two lengths of pale raw silk waiting for me to find time for a dye vat and the work of preparing the fabric for shibori. Before the frosts, before the fall storms, I want to have them dyed and ready for a winter quilt. The other day I was sorting images in a digital file and I found this,


the top of a quilt I finished for Forrest and Manon. It was the second fish quilt I made and the next two were better, I think, in that I figured out how to do the Mokume technique a little more effectively. And I used more shell buttons to articulate the fish-spines, to suggest eggs among stones.

The season turned on Friday and now we prepare for winter. Jellies to have with roast chicken and lamb, a big vat of squash and apple soup yesterday, and this basket of cloth waiting, waiting for its immersion into indigo, its transformation to something more than itself.


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