Summer’s finally here!


It’s been a long while, I know, but I’m feeling the urge to get my thoughts on the page once more. It took ages for London to emerge from it’s coldest winter in 30 years, and along with it my mood. Yes, it was lovely at times, with a dusting of pink snow blossoms lining the sidewalks and noisy jays building their nest in the eves of our building and the endless daylight of this northern city. But it was cold…and beyond grey! It wasn’t until very recently that I found myself looking forward to a day on The Hill – what the locals call Primrose Hill Park. Finally, I am spending the occasional afternoon sitting on the lawn watching the prams roll by, the paparazzi chase down their celebrities, and the dogs frolic while they sniff the air.

For two full weeks on BBC 2, there was an hourlong nightly program called Springwatch 2010. Television networks in this country will pay to have a group of naturalists set up an elaborate set in the woods with cameras poised around the countryside to catch the change of the season and what that means for the birds, foxes, dragonflies, snakes, skunks, bunnies and more. It was enchanting. Live to camera one and let’s see how many times such and such bird feeds its new chicks. The next day, live to camera one and let’s watch the chicks make their first flight from the nest. I don’t even really enjoy nature, but was riveted!
While I was walking through The City, mid-day Friday, a policeman halted traffic at an intersection. Who could be coming through? The president of the Bank of England? The Queen? Some foreign ambassador’s motorcade? In the distance drums began to echo and I could make out colorful costumes. It was a parade to celebrate arts programs in the primary and secondary schools. This parade of school children and their eccentric looking teachers, complete with papier mache animal masks, tribal costumes, plastic bottle jelly fish and lots of smiling faces, stopped up traffic for at least 20 minutes. Can you imagine that happening on Wall Street on a Friday around lunch?
England has been defeated by the Germans in the World Cup (“don’t mention the war!”) and Wimbledon is in full swing. I heard a commentator of a tennis match today say that a close line call was “by a bee’s eyebrow.” I think it’s fair to say I’m that since the gloom of winter has truly lifted, my love affair with the English is revived.
Strawberries and cream are synonymous with Wimbledon and the English really do grow delicious berry varieties. There’s the Honeoye, Elsanta, Florence, Korona, Symphony and Sophie, to name a few. Of course you come across the tasteless jumbo version at supermarkets, but the smaller sweet gems that you can smell across the room are everywhere. Apart from the strawberries and cream staple, they’re equally at home in Eton Mess (meringue, strawberries and whipped cream), and the lovely summer fruits trifle. And with that I’m off to the shop to buy some double cream to have with my berries – and I’m contemplating a shortcake as an extra treat tonight. I know I’m supposed to be a fancy trained chef, but for me the Bisquick shortcakes are the best (I can even find Bisquick at Shepherd Foods on our high street since it caters to all the Americans around here. So exciting. And, yes, it is the small things).
Here’s the recipe:
2 1/3 cups bisquick
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Mix together all of the ingredients. Put 6 large spoonfulls of the mixture on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

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