Gollum in the Kitchen. Sunday October 18, 2015
There are consolations to insomnia.
I think many of us will recognise that feeling. You go to bed dead tired, drop off and then wake an hour or two hours later with a start, adrenaline racing and the absolute knowledge you won't be able to go back to sleep for hours, even if you lie there and count all the sheep in New Zealand (39,124,367, the last time I tried).
So, if you're like me, you get up and potter. You make a cup of tea, eat some toast (hoping the delicious smell won't sneak its way up the stairs and wake your loved ones). You sit at the kitchen table and read, a purring cat on your lap. The cats are always thrilled when I can't sleep.
The kitchen at 2.30am is a comforting place. The clock on the wall ticks reassurance and every few seconds the 23 litre vat of apple juice in the corner gulps as it goes about its slow and steady metamorphosis into cider.
I've written before about Apple Day, how five families all get together with every single apple we can beg or scrump or forage, how we chop and press from mid-morning to early evening, sharing food and dividing up the spoils of juice. This year I could only chop for an hour before taking an hour's nap. I chopped for another hour and then had to be taken home, leaving my husband and children to carry our family's share of the load. Everyone knows about the depression; they all look after me, making sure I don't do too much; they're good friends.
But what wonderful stuff that juice is. You don't need to do anything to it, other than to pop it into a fermentation vat. All by itself it turns into cider. It's like magic.
It's a slow process. You can't hurry it – not if you want the smooth, naturally fermented taste. The first lot might be ready by Christmas. Or it might go on until Easter. My husband might decide to bottle it and add sugar to get a secondary and sparkling fermentation.
But at the end there is bottle upon bottle of thin golden sunshine, gleaming in the corner of the dining room, ready to dance on our taste buds like falling leaves. It's the taste of autumn and the warm spice of friendship.
But for now, the steady puh-lopp keeps me company in the kitchen, soothing me as I drink camomile tea, as I read a favourite book, as I wait for sleep to approach once again.
The sound is comforting, a reminder of that ring of friends and a promise for the future.
A Moodscope member.
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