Winter is here

This week has finally brought winter. A sunny walk in the woods at the weekend had lulled me into a complacent confidence that Christmas would be mild and balmy and the lifting of the dahlias could proceed at dilettante pace. The tissue paper whisper of the grass on Monday told another tale. The first of the frost was hidden in marshy hollows, a light dusting on the buttercups. In the interests of caution, Pip the lemon tree was promptly fitted for his winter coat (several sizes too big but who knows how he’ll grow next year…). I took to the fork with redoubled effort and most of the dahlias are now in. Just a few yellow fellas still to go.

The digging did no favours whatsoever for my dodgy ankle and so a couple of days of shorter walks, indoor pursuits and a bit of hobbling and groaning followed. (I have since been to the GP and procured a form to refer myself to the physio, thus demonstrating a good example to Mother dearest…) My second maritime themed Christmas jumper therefore proceeds apace and there’s only a shoulder and the neck to go. Hopefully it will fit someone. I am trialling a new pattern book and the first looks to have come up a bit small and the second a bit big. Obviously I have customised each design remorselessly in terms of wool, stitch, neckline and so on, with only trace elements of the original remaining – so I have no-one to blame but myself. This second jumper has been brought to you by Kate Atkinson’s latest, Shrines of Gaiety which I enjoyed. I think it might be worth a second read so a hard copy may be procured (quite the recommendation). This year’s curtain project (well one of them, there are others in waiting) has been the production of fabric “cache pots” for fatball tubs in which to plant the indoor bulbs. These were produced to the accompaniment of The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’ Farrell and Lear Wife by JR Thorp. Both were excellent but Learwife especially lingered and rang in my ears as I idled along with Lyra through the frosty hedgerows.

Yesterday I pootled off to Selkirk via the tyre place where winter tyres were fitted to the trusty mini. I truly love my winter tyres. They give me a totally unjustified sense of arctic explorer derring do. Amundsen like (in my own mind) I glided along the back roads admiring the slender reach of the bare trees into the blue sky. Coming over the hill into Selkirk you could see for miles across to the hills opposite but in the hollow of the river a vast cloud seemed to have settled like a collapsed zeppelin obscuring the toon. We descended through wraiths of freezing mist expecting some Cthulu like monster up to its furtive worst. However, in the curious way of these things, down in the depths below the foggy cap you could see fine and we decide to risk a walk/hobble. Cousin Crena has spotted the kingfisher back at its old haunt by the damside recently (much to Auntie Syb’s ire as she considers herself very much the keeper of this flame) so mum and I set off to see if we would be lucky too. No kingfisher alas, but we spotted an obese pigeon, a cheery robin, a rather ugly goose and numerous blue tits so felt that a coffee at the Watermill was well earned.

I woke this morning to find Ruthven swathed in a thick veil of freezing fog. Catriona positively loomed out of the murk, mooching cow pellets, as Lyra and I passed. We strode out into a back lane bounded by hedgerows rimed with frost and tapering into cloudy mystery. The last remaining hips and crabapples were striking smudges of colour in an intricate lacework of black and white and bejewelled cobwebs. Snug back at home Mince pies are in order. I find myself wondering if this year we will have snow for Christmas.

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