Down by the river
no boys playing,
banks submerged with rain -
sodden and soaking,
debris caught and foaming.
I watch the water
it's a funny kind of sympathy
she reflecting me:
that spilling out, forcefully,
an overflow of feelings
days of rain and howling winds bring -
of wondering, half-sleeping,
weeks of lockdown and isolation
familiar paths, unsettling us
again and again.
I'm a mess of worry and relief
we know we're the lucky ones
with animals safe, with house in tact
that's dry and warm -
spirit within us, hovering,
rest and disturbance.
Down by the river
I'm a woman lingering,
listening to the flow -
birds are singing,
darting in the trees
and on my face
blessed sun, shining.
It's school pick up time on Wednesday
when the rain is flying sideways.
We try to step around the puddles,
umbrella inside out,
come on, come on, I say.
Dinner by candlelight is romantic the first time,
our only option when the power goes out.
I hear you say: mum, can we do this every night?
I read to you by torch light,
a book for each boy and a song.
Lying beside you, my eldest boy,
I can't remember the last time I sang you to sleep.
Your hand on my tummy, I stroke your hair
and can feel it's silky redness in the dark.
In bed we hear the storm raging,
a forest howling, blowing thunderously.
We toss and turn and pray
the animals are safe,
that our roof stays on.
Waking in the cold, dark of morning,
I fumble for candles, kindling for the fire,
for cereal and anything that will wake us up.
It's still raining, wind blowing.
I am so happy to discover I can
boil the kettle on top of our wood heater -
and later poach eggs and cook rice and porridge.
It's so slow, but worth it.
It's afternoon when the sky begins to part,
and reveals a sunset, pink and golden.
The rain has stopped and you ride
your bikes through the puddles
All around town we see trees missing limbs,
fences crushed and fallen.
Dinner by candlelight for the second night,
and nobody seems excited.
The river swells as we've never seen before.
Storm water swallows the banks,
almost touching the bridge
and our favourite places to sit and play,
are covered over, hidden from view.
I play Shostakovich from my phone as I pack the eggs,
- it feels luxurious and necessary to use battery for this,
the familiar notes, beautiful and haunting,
become the slow whistle of the kettle on top of the fire,
of a storm gathering, raging and calming.
When the moderato begins, I am crying.
Early June is quiet and cold. Rain and wind shakes off what remains of the autumn leaves. I watch boys ride bikes around puddles and muddy their knees. Slowly, I clear out the garden of weeds and dead things, add to the bonfire pile and compost heap. Mulch the broccoli and leeks. Sow beans, peas, lettuce and carrot seeds. Prune the roses and the plum tree. I spy the green tips of bulbs emerging, hyacinth and daffodils. Inside the wood heater is kept stoked and warm. We mark off the days until the lockdown lifts, then the days until the school holidays, how long till spring begins. I bake often - for hunger and comfort, elevenses and afternoon tea. Winter is reading in bed with a hot water bottle on your chest and socks on your feet. Winter is slowing down whether you want to or not, feeling the cold and savouring heat //
Banana, Coconut + Raspberry Bread
125 butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar // OR 1 cup honey or maple syrup
2 ripe bananas
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup rice flour + 3/4 tapioca starch // OR 1 + 1/2 cups GF plain flour mix
1/2 cup coconut flour // OR desiccated coconut for a rougher texture
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1 cup frozen raspberries // OR berries of your choice // OR 100g chopped dark chocolate
Makes 1 large loaf
- - -
In a large bowl or mixer cream together butter and sugar - followed by mashed bananas, eggs and olive oil. Mix in flours, spices and baking powder. It should be a thick batter consistency. Finally gently stir in raspberries. Pour mixture into a high-sided loaf tin that has been well-greased (or lined with baking paper - I usually just squash a rectangle of baking paper into the tin) and make in a moderate oven at 180'c for 45 mins - 1 hour. It will be ready once a skewer or knife inserted into the centre of the bread comes out clean.
GF Anzacs with a twist
2 cups quinoa flakes
1 cup puffed amaranth
1 cup desiccated coconut
zest of 1 orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup GF plain four // OR 1/2 cup each rice flour and tapioca starch
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- - -
Preheat moderate oven to 180'c. Place quinoa, amaranth, coconut, flour, zest, cinnamon, flour and brown sugar in a large bowl. Meanwhile heat the butter and honey in a saucepan over a low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in bicarb soda (it will fizz up a bit) - tip wet mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Shape a heaped tablespoon of mixture into paper-lined oven trays (I ended up with four trays of cookies). Use a fork to flatten the tops and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Cool and store in an airtight container - they last ages!
ABOUT the author
Emily Clare Sims is a farmer and mama to three young boys. Each day she looks for ways to notice beauty, contemplate her faith and savour the seasons...