I was recently prompted to think of some of my favourite things after watching The Sound of Music with the grandkids who were visiting. It can be tricky to keep the list short, to say eight things - one for each note of the scale - but it’s great fun to seek out the answers and go on a journey through life’s catalogue of memories and experiences, a bit of the past and present. The things I narrowed it down to are mostly plants and foods, and therefore all rather transient in nature - not unlike the ‘raindrops on roses’ and ‘wild geese’ of the song. And, curiously, many of them turn out to be the colour blue.
Beloved Blue Blooms
As a gardener, it seems I favour a blueish bloom over pinks, yellows and oranges. I’ve managed to create (almost!) a constant relay of blue flowers in my garden, from early crocus flowers, grape hyacinths to carpets of self-seeding forget-me-nots, viola and love-in-the-mist, hyacinths and bluebells, aquilegia, irises, alliums and hydrangeas. I have cheated a little, as some of these are more violet-blue or closer to purple than blue. My blue border belies the fact that the colour blue appears much less in nature than we may think. If we count by subject rather than size - so the sky and the ocean are only one a piece - a smaller fraction of the plants, foods and animals in the world are blue in colour (not counting the many sheep in Ireland with a blue dot sprayed on their behind!).
It’s not all in the flowers either. Some of my favourite plants have leaves that are more blue than green, or have a silvery, greyish-blueness to them, and these are wonderful too, like lavender and giant artichokes. As if seeing up to a million distinct shades isn’t enough for most humans, we would experience the world quite differently if we could see as many colours as some animals do, including the ultraviolet spectrum.
The Foody Blues
For every season a favourite food - I’m a devotee of many that come and go with certain festivals and specific times of the year and a stickler for keeping them that way – strictly no mince pies before 1st December or beyond the 12th day of Christmas. And right now, All Hail Summer Pudding! Tangy and sweet with the distinctive flavours of blackcurrant and blackberry jostling together. It’s a beautiful deep bluey-purple colour too. The scarcity value adds to the delight when the moment in the year comes around again for a hot cross bun in spring, fresh figs plucked straight from the tree and pears poached in red wine in the autumn.
Blue Jewel of the Dairy
Last but definitely not least in the collection of favourite things is my most favourite edible thing (and probably the most ephemeral of all!), a little indulgence of blue cheese. In a bid to eat a bit less cheese these days, having a nibble of this delicacy is now quite the luxury and a much rarer event. There are many to choose from, all with unique character, texture and flavour but I must give a loud cheer for Crozier Blue, a delicious, softish and creamy blue sheep’s cheese made in neighbouring County Tipperary. OK, the ‘blue’ in the cheese is more green than blue, but as this is all a matter of perception, I’m going to say it counts. It’s vegetarian too and can be paired with some purple rice biscuits or blue corn crackers to complete the totally blue colour filter.