Saturday, June 04, 2011

Elders are not just old people

eld·er 
adj.
1. Greater than another in age or seniority.
2. Superior to another or others, as in rank.
n.
1. An older person.
2. An older, influential member of a family, tribe, or community.
3. One of the governing officers of a church, often having pastoral or teaching functions.
4. Mormon Church A member of the higher order of priesthood.
Well not today. Today Elder is for me, a tree. Throughout my time in the three Australian states I lived in, my time in New Zealand and Guatemala, I had never really given any thought to the elder tree. Nor to the things it can produce for the person who cares. When I moved to the UK I learned more, that said I still didn't know much about it. I saw more on the fantastic TV show River Cottage, where they would make wine and champagne from it. Yet, I had not really any knowledge of it, I never made anything due to probably always feeling like a temporary resident and not wanting to buy all the "kit". Since moving to what I call the capital of the East EU, as anyone who reads this over time will know, I have started a brewing, pickling, jamifying lifestyle. I am LOVING it. I recommend anyone who has spare time, some space, and the inkling to get involved in things to make it yourself. It means life is just great because you are creating what you eat or drink and know what goes into it. Also, it just tastes better.

So, as you can see from the above, this is all about the Elder tree. It is the genus Sambucus, already sounds like something I drank too much of in my early 20's, the Italian spirit, sambuca. Therefore, it must be drunk! The Elder is also called Elderberry as the flowers each turn to a berry later in the year. Which will allow me the chance to again make something different from this lovely tree. I have been scouting around, to find some after deciding to make elder sparkling wine (or champagne, for those not worried about annoying the French). I even had others, namely the Welsh DJ, helping me search for blooms. I had seen one a few weeks ago, but it was only small, and was worried there were none about. Then BOOM! There was an explosion of flowers all over our suburb Ursynow. I think because lately we have been having fantastic weather. I don't just mean sunshine, it has really been superb. The only problem with this weather is that the flowers open and then die off a little. So, after a big thunderstorm on Wednesday night, I worried, and luckily my Thursdays are pretty quiet workwise. After meeting a friend for coffee, I came home to hit the net and get all the gossip on Elderflowers. Some say only pick at the hottest part of the day, others say the morning, many suggest the creamier in colour the better. Now I know all this, I need flowers!
Thing is, I never want to be stopped by grannies and into any form of interaction because of:
a) for fear of the language barrier 
b) for fear they will call the dreaded city police, or  
c) because they may want in on my action.
I had noticed a beautiful tree near one of my student's house, it is on a main road though, so lots of people would see me. I needed to work fast. I rode my trusty Amsterdam bike down there and attacked it with a Swiss army knife. After a quick haul of 20 or so flower heads, I bolted as people were stopping to watch. I thought I would take the scenic route home as I had seen a few other trees in parks on recent roads.
The first patch, the Amsterdam is hiding in the long grass
Don't they just look lovely.
 Then I came across the holy grail of flowers, a small road that was empty with no houses on it, full of the flowers, lots of creamy coloured flowers, and lots and lots of pollen and flavour!
WOW MAMA!
No need to hide the Amsterdam here.
I went nuts, as did my sinuses from the onslaught but I wasn't going to let boogers and tears stop me. The flowers smell really lovely and sweet, especially on a very sunny day, even through boogers and tears.
Such pretty little things
Who knew flowers helped romance, also shows something that confuses me, a pretty and well dressed Polish girl and the Polish boy has longer hair and wears brown....
 Then off home to start the making of something, hopefully, magical.
The end of about 30 minutes work, including riding time, photography time and hiding from granny maneuvers

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