There is a day (usually some time in February) when I take a sandwich outside and sit in the low winter sunlight. This sandwich is called the Hope of Summer Sandwich. I could give you a recipe for it, but I am no Nigella Lawson and in any case, the filling can be whatever we fancy, as long as salad is involved. Chocolate spread has never been included in the Hope of Summer Sandwich. I understand that this might appear to be a shocking omission for a chocoholic, but I am not crazy about chocolate spread and in any case, we must consider the salad element (even my relatively untrained tastebuds recognise that tomatoes do nothing for chocolate spread).
You may quite rightly be thinking that I should stop all these thoughts of bread and get out more. I agree, but I have had a brief spell in hospital and have been stuck indoors since late October. Consequently there has been plenty of time to think about food and not much time to garden, so the gardening to-do list is lengthening by the second and I may be ready for winter some time next spring. Instead of being tucked up in fertile soil, bulbs are strewn across my rather less than fertile office floor and the heating is turned down in a vain attempt to keep the bulbs happy until I am finished with the whole convalescing malarkey. As you can imagine, preserving the bulbs is playing havoc with my typing speed as my fingers are fair freezing to the keyboard - something which will not be happening when I tuck into my Hope of Summer Sandwich.
|Helleborus x hybridus|
The Hope of Summer Sandwich is significant because it is eaten on my very favourite day in the gardening year: the first day it is sunny enough to sit outside and perhaps even justify accessorising my lunch attire with a pair of sunglasses. It is a day which fills me with hope that summer will return and I will eventually warm through to the marrow, throw off my thermals and barbecue some corn on the cob. Even better, if it is windless and sunny enough for me to eat al fresco, there is a chance that I might be joined for lunch by an early bee.
There are many contenders for the best day of the gardening year. Switching on the propagator should rightly be accompanied by a fanfare, champagne and a party until dawn. The first snowdrop nudging through the soil is certainly cause for a giant bar of chocolate; and the completion of just about any gardening task really ought to be celebrated with a hot coffee and a jolly good sit down. But it is that first sunny lunch time which is my favourite. It seems a little inadequate to celebrate it with a sandwich (especially as I am a coeliac and gluten-free bread is rarely delightful) but it is a decades-old tradition and it wouldn’t be right to upgrade it to something more upmarket.
|Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'|
Of course, if you live in a place where winter isn't very cold, Hope of Summer Sandwich day is not going to take priority in your gardening year. Perhaps you like the cold and the first frost of winter is a cause for celebration, but for me, much as I love the heat of summer, Hope of Summer Sandwich day is more of a cause for celebration than summer itself.