As the snow dwindled, the frost set in with the melt reforming overnight into hardened pools of ice, grey and strangely rounded, like melted candles. The paths around the fields set into uncomfortably frosty ridges. Mum and I trudged on stoically in the quest for extra steps and fancy camera angles and the family soup consumption spiked dramatically. Then, with a terminal cough and shudder worthy of Donald Sinden the boiler packed in. Arriving visitors were issued with hot water bottles, extra blankets and a recommendation that “layers” were this season’s look. Keith welded himself inside his (very thick) Christmas jumper which has now very much earned its place in the stocking and I reverted to a very ancient green arran (my mum knitted this for an old boyfriend of mine but somehow I managed to retain custody after the Very Big Argument). We lit every stove and fire in the house and found reasons to linger by the aga. Never has the role of sous chef been so coveted. Mum morphed into an axe wielding maniac in her obsessive quest for kindling (she’s proper hardcore and uses the big axe not my nincy nancy little one). Keith was barely able to complete the sudoku before the paper was whisked away for fire raising purposes. When Mark the plumber installed the new components after three long days of toughing it out there were complaints that it was now “a bit hot”….
Obviously, what with visitors and plumbing vicissitudes, dryish January was given a good soaking and Burns night was celebrated with vim and gusto. We have been trying to claw back the ascetic high ground ever since and in the tea soaked evenings after baked potato and salad I have finally (more or less) finished the rather fiddly experimental blue cardi I abandoned before Christmas (which is looking rather mum’s birthday sized). I was accompanied on this oddessey of finishing stuff off by the Adrian Tchaikovsky Children of Time/Ruin Memory trilogy which was excellent, and exactly what you need to get through the really boring sewing up bits. This now leaves me a window for stuff of my own devising but there are so many possibilities… I foresee a prolonged period of staring wistfully into the yarn stash and googling Russian fair isle charts on Pinterest. I may need to crack on with something easy just to tide me over until inspiration smites.
The last few days have been much milder and I have risked the odd foray out with wellies and fork trying to clear away the worst of the weeds where the bulbs are springing. With most of the undergrowth cleared away and the bulbs visible but not yet fully out there is a golden moment for moving “things in the wrong place”. I have finally bitten the bullet and moved the weeping acer at the front which passionately dislikes its windy position. It has been rehomed in the new shade bed and I have been clustering some small shrubs around it by way of windbreak. I saw it shivering a bit yesterday, so I think a bit more shelter is called for. Luckily, I have my eye on a new orange hamamelis (my yellow one died in the drought, though the red one has been lovely this year against the snow, and yellow cornus at the garden centre (I popped in for seed compost yesterday and it would have been rude not to look round)).
We risked the woodland footpath today, for fear of missing the snowdrops. At first glance as we crossed Snuffkin’s bridge, there seemed to be none but then as we focussed on the stripes of light filtering down through the trees tiny white dots began to appear. On closer inspection there were blue grey spears everywhere and a good few flowers out. If the weather holds there will be banks and pools of white everywhere. There is nothing for it but to don the wellies, risk the mud and watch things unfold.