Wednesday 15 August 2018

Assumption Day

It's the Feast of the Assumption, and we celebrated at home after 6 PM Mass with wine and cake.

Originally I was going to bake this cake, but then I couldn't find an oven thermometer at Tesco. All the markings on our new-to-us oven have worn away, which makes baking cakes unwontedly difficult. Not finding a thermometer, I put the butter, self-raising flour and vanilla back on their shelves. The eggs I retained for future omelettes, and we ate Tesco Luxury Victoria Sponge instead.

As I transform into Crunchy Trad or, more euphoniously, Eco-Trad, I am determined not to waste any food and to save as many applicable kitchen scraps for my new compost heap. Benedict Ambrose is curious about my desire to be both frugal and non-wasting and wonders which characteristic will win.

I am not so certain that frugality and non-wasting are opposed. This morning I was going to go to B&Q to buy a compost bin for £25, but then I bethought me that £25 was a lot of money to spend all at once on a piece of moulded plastic. Presumably my ancestors had compost heaps before the advent of plastic, so I went online to see what they might have done. And lo, they might have made their own compost bin out of stakes and wire mesh.

But not having stakes and wire mesh, I went outside with the kitchen scraps, dug a shallow hole in a corner of the garden, and filled it with scraps. Then I put some dirt over it, and voilĂ : the beginnings of my compost heap. Tomorrow I will turn it over, throw in today's scraps, and send B.A. to the Historical House to beg some wooden pallets from the Historical Gardener. Then we will make a wooden compost bin, and all for free.

I also enjoyed myself by sweeping up the leaves and bug-chewed windfalls under the apple tree, pulling out a few weeds, and cleaning our recycling box, which a neighbourhood cat had mistaken for its litter tray. That last was not terribly enjoyable, but when the task was over, I could dump the recycling into the box and put it in the garden shed for later.

All Scots with gardens seem to have a garden shed. One of the nicest characteristics of the Scots is their obsession with gardening. I believe they share this mania with the English. Every dwelling in Edinburgh, no matter how poor and mean, seems to have a well-tended garden in front of it, even if that means a vast lawn of pebbles and one cherished rosebush. I have never, ever seen a rusted vehicle on a Scottish front lawn.

I thought that when B.A. got older, he would revert to type and start gardening away like 99.99% of Scotsmen with gardens. What I did not imagine was that after we put a bid on a property with a garden, I would begin to moon over horticultural books and look for advice on the care and feeding of apple trees.

All day I have been wondering if there is a connection between Our Lady and an apple tree. (I do not, by the way, associate the homely apple with Eden. I am sure the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a lot more exotic and fiddly, like a pomegranate.)  But B.A. said just now that there is a Protestant poem called "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree", and I see that it is a carol, too.

From Divine Hymns or Spiritual Songs,
compiled by Joshua Smith, New Hampshire, 1784
Tune by Elizabeth Poston, 1905-1987

1. The tree of life my soul hath seen,
Laden with fruit and always green:
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

2. His beauty doth all things excel:
By faith I know, but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

3. For happiness I long have sought,
And pleasure dearly I have bought:
I missed of all; but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

4. I'm weary with my former toil,
Here I will sit and rest awhile:
Under the shadow I will be,
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

5. This fruit doth make my soul to thrive,
It keeps my dying faith alive;
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

From The Hymns and Carols of Christmas


  1. There is a beautiful ikon of the Virgin Mary and the apple tree, and the story was something like Joseph, after Mary asked him to reach an apple for her, refused, saying 'let the father of the child fetch the apple' at which point the apple tree bent to the ground to allow Mary to take an apple.

    Google image is not pulling up any results for me, but my mother has a copy and it is beautiful.

    I am glad to hear of your new home and tree.


    1. What a lovely story (if not flattering to Joseph)!

  2. Sounds like the Cherry Tree legend to me:

  3. It is flattering to St Joseph - he understands and reveals the nature of Jesus as Son of God, by insisting God 'fetch the apple'.

    Rather like Zechariah's stubborn disbelief God could give him a child in old age, led to God muting, then unmuting him, which revealed God's power and the blessed nature of John the Baptist even as a baby... [Luke ch1]