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Famously, the default conversational setting of the British is discussion of the weather. In our defence, however, it must be said that we are also a nation of gardeners and our success or otherwise is very much linked to the vagaries of the weather.
March is usually a fickle month – winter one minute, spring the next – but I hadn’t anticipated quite how cold it would actually be all month when the Met Office said early on that the wind would swing round to the east. Jamie’s garden lies on a hill close to the highest point in Essex. It’s been impressive to watch the approaching snow squalls race across the landscape before blasting me as I mulch the vegetable beds.
The practical upshot of this long winter is continuing low soil temperatures. In short, don’t worry too much if you’ve yet to sow broad beans, peas or parsnips, the traditional crops to sow in early spring. They won’t germinate very quickly at the moment. If you can, warm up the appropriate bits of your garden in preparation by covering the soil with black polythene or with cloches then sow as soon as it gets a bit milder. You could also try sowing beans and peas in modules indoors for planting out later on.
For the next round of sowing – early carrots, beetroot and lettuce – look to weeds as an indicator of soil conditions. Once you spot them starting to germinate, you know the soil is warming up.
As it happens, I did sow some broad beans at start of March, fooled as I was by two days of mild weather. As seeds go, they’re tough and will germinate in pretty cold soil but three weeks have passed and they’re still not poking through. Once they are up I shall sow another row and so on every ten days to two weeks till early May. This will provide beans from mid-June to late July.
An earlier crop can be had by sowing a hardy over-wintering variety such as ‘Super Aquadulce’ or ‘The Sutton’ in November, which I did. They’ll be ready at the very end of May or start of June. I inspected these (having covered them over with fleece to keep the pigeons off) at the same time as making my first spring sowing. About 30% had failed to germinate, due most likely to the cold, the wet and the predations of hungry rodents. I resowed to fill the gaps. Whilst I like the relative calm of the garden in winter, I’m really ready for spring now.
Bluebird of bitterness
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 at 9:03 am and is filed under comfort & joy, musical offerings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
8 Responses to It’s been a long cold lonely winter
That’s so brilliant. The dog obviously loved it, too.
(Never thought about that instrument’s having a name, and, gee whiz, thumbs are good for more than just texting!)
…..never heard of a kalimba, before at 79, I guess I’m never too old to learn something new. Thanks, BoB, for being a great teacher, and expanding my world!
Beautiful in so many ways, including of course happy doggie.
And now I am subscribed to that youtube site. Not certain if it was the music. Or the dog. But both had me wanting more! (Of both.) HUGS!!
The Spruce Eats / Pete Scherer
Chipotle peppers, onions, tomatoes, and chicken thighs go into the slow cooker for chicken tinga. The flavorful Mexican stew also makes an excellent taco filling and it keeps well, so you can get a few meals out of one batch.
Archive of Our Own beta
Klaus and Ben don't want their brother to get sick
Y'all, the moon does things to your immune system.
“Hey Luther! You wanna come out in the snow with us?” Klaus yelled.
Luther shook his head meekly. For him, cold weather meant an even weaker immune system, which meant getting sick. A lot. So he dressed in even more layers than he did normally and barely left the house.
Klaus ran over and shook his arm. “Oh come on, it’ll be fun!”
“Maybe I wanna spend some quality time with my big brother.”
“See, now your guilt tripping me.”
“Pleeeeeeaaaaaassssseee?” He said, widening his green eyes and pouting.
Luther sighed and stood up from his spot on the couch. “Fine.”
Klaus grabbed his gloved hand and pulled him towards the foyer. Allison was helping Five with his scarf, and Diego and Vanya were tying up their snow-boots. Diego looked up with a grin.
Luther flopped onto his bed, worn out. Once they all got outside, a huge snowball fight broke out. There were many truces and betrayels, and eventually they made teams. By the time they got inside, they were all soaked and shivering. They split off to their separate rooms to get cleaned up.
He had pulled his sweater over a button up and grabbed a jacket as well. ‘Avoiding the cold didn’t go all to well today’ he thought. Remembering that Klaus had stole his blankets earlier, he snuck downstairs.
He crept past the living room, but jumped when he saw a dark figure staring at him from the couch.
“Hey, it’s only me, chill.” Ben whisper-yelled.
“What are you doing?” Luther retorted.
“I could ask you the same thing.”
They held a mini stare-off for a couple seconds. Luther shrunk into himself with a sigh.
“I’m trying to find a blanket.”
“Don’t you have some upstairs?”
Ben nodded slowly, clearly understanding. He dissapeared for a second, leaving his brother standing there, staring at the spot where he was. He came back with Klaus in tow, faces obscured by piles of blankets. Luther watched as they pulled the cushions off the couch and grabbed chairs from the dining room.
“A pillow fort, obviously.” Klaus replied, a bit to loudly considering the hour. “Dont want ya catchin a cold because of me big guy. Now, come help.”
10 minutes later, the brothers had set turned the living room into a pillow fort. Apparently they had been to loud, because pretty soon the others found their way downstairs.
“Join us!” Klaus beckoned from the inside mountain of blankets. One-by-one they crawled inside, greeted by a half asleep Luther with Ben leaned against his arm, book in hand. Five moved towards Ben, accidentally brushing against Luther’s side. The blonde flinched, then leaned closer to the two of them.
Klaus remembered something he had said to his brother. “Not to many ladies up on the moon I suppose.” 'No one at all.’ He corrected sadly. A slight smile crossed his face as an idea occurred to him.
“DOGPILE!” He yelled, prompting all of his siblings (except Five, because I guess he’s too old for that.) to land on top of Luther, who quietly accepted his fate. Five did seem to get the memo though, because he silently held his twin’s hand.
Little darlin’, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter
I’ve written (and thought) a lot about how oppressive this winter has been. My favorite joke last week, you know, when it was snowing, was that today wasn’t actually the 16th of April. It was the 96th of January. Man, did that FEEL true. Every cold, gray morning felt like a soul tax, making it that much harder to get out of bed and do the things that needed to be done – never mind do them with joy and thanksgiving.
But, alleluia! The weather finally broke this weekend. On Friday night, still childless, Adam and I wandered alone in the empty quiet of the Fells in the waning light. It was cold still, but a little like finally being able to scratch an itch that’s been plaguing you, just out of reach. Saturday was so bright and fair. I sat on the front steps of my house in the warm sun – coatless. I drank black coffee from a cheerful mug with a ceramic bird on the handle. I looked at the hyacinth and narcissus in their springtime flush. And I ate a delicious muffin brought to me by a friend. And I was deeply content.
Flowers, coffee, muffin
My children returned to me over this weekend. I picked Thane up, very tired, on Saturday. I missed his sweetness and snuggles. He was still on Pacific time, but brought his A game and hit the soccer fields bright and early at 8 am in the sunshine.
I went to church, and found myself rejoicing in worship and fellowship. It didn’t hurt that I had a very proud moment as a teacher. I work with my kids throughout the year to memorize the books of the Bible. Memorization has fallen out of fashion, but I think it has a valuable role to play in general. In specific, I think that memorizing the books of the Bible (and whether they’re old or new testament, and what kind – prophecy, history, poetry etc.) gives the kids something to hang further knowledge on. If you hear a passage from Isaiah and you’ve never heard of Isaiah, you just gloss it out. If you know where Isaiah is – where it sits in the Bible and that it’s one of the major prophets – maybe you listen just a little bit harder to hear the prophecy. Maybe you remember just a little bit more. Anyway, TWO of my kids today came to class with the books memorized. One had memorized the Old Testament and rattled off the minor prophets like a champ. The other had gotten the New Testament, and sailed through the letters of Paul like they were old friends. I couldn’t have been more proud. (Any implication that I bribe them with gigantic chocolate bars for this feat is absolutely true.) And then we had this fantastic discussion about the Lord’s Prayer, the Catholic version, the various Protestant versions (debts, sins, trespasses?) and the version in Luke. Then THAT led to talking about translation and transcription in the Bible. Finally we ended up talking about what Jesus taught us was important in prayer (in that passage it’s persistence). It was the sort of Sunday morning that pays for a year’s worth of getting up early.
I teach the 2nd through 5th graders
Then to turn your face to the sky, and find it warm and welcoming. I swear it’s a miracle. Adam and I have barely been able to drag ourselves inside. We’ve gone for two hikes. We went for a run. I’ve walked hither and yon. And just now, we set a fire in our firepit, ordered pizza and called to our friends to join us. Sitting under the still-bare branches of winter, but smelling the smoke, seeing the buds, and not freezing to death… it was amazing.
Our friends will play games with us
Suddenly, my dour cynicism is feeling more hopeful. I see myself noticing the good things. ANOTHER new restaurant is opening in town, and it’s calling itself the Nobility Hill Tavern. That’s one of my favorite parts of Stoneham! The blue flowers on the hill across from us are spreading and naturalizing new spots. The Greenway is coming closer to fruition, with just one bridge left between us and Winchester to build. Grey got civic permission to put in his first geocache, which should help to address the dearth thereof in Stoneham. Our attic is making great progress, and the long-awaited improvements might realistically be done before the 4th of July. (Ok, more likely August…) The boys had amazing weeks getting 1:1 time with people who loved them, and my husband and I got to spend wonderful 1:1 time with each other. My life is filled with kind, generous and fun people. This is a totally different perspective than I had in 30 degree weather, assuredly.
So today I celebrate! Huzzah for all that is good in life!
OK, this picture of Grey is admittedly terrifying
Kacenka on the road
…lonely, maybe, but not long and cold enough. And more importantly, it’s not over yet. (Yay!) I could start going on about how winter is important for nature to be reborn or something equally as deep, but enough bullshit on this blog (for a while at least, I am fairly confident it will be back in due time in full splendor).
A coffee break with a view
Point is, I love winter. I love all the things you can do in winter. First time I stood on skis (little yellow plastic ones, with a picture of a cat on it), I was 3 years old, if not 2. You could take a train from our village to the mountains, and ski through the forest all the way to our doorstep. We’d skip school when we were teenagers and go skiing instead. We’d play ice hockey on the frozen pond. No helmets, no protections, the only rule was not to raise the puck above knee level. A rule that most times no one respected, hence more often than not we’d come home with a broken nose or an open wound on the eyebrow. I have a scar on my chin that happened when my dad took me skating once when I was not more than 5 or 6. He will deny it, but he made me trip. I remember it quite clearly (plus the stitches are still visible). I guess kids nowadays don’t get similar battle scars from fiddling with their iPads. “Remember that day I cleared 50 levels of Candy Crush in one afternoon?” That is, when they actually stick with stupid games and don’t go straight to internet porn.
After and hour of thick fog, the skies cleared
I have just spent a weekend skiing with my parents in the Austrian Alps, precisely Pass Thurn. I didn’t bother to bring my proper camera to the slopes. I do the hard version of snowboarding – firm binding, it’s fast, rough, technical and physically more demanding than the soft board. (I could also remark something about preference for long and firm things, but I’m a lady.) However, sometimes an edge slips and I end up sliding 200 m on my back, so I didn’t want to risk smashing one of the expensive lenses.
Freeride si for hipsters – firm board is hardcore
All photos are taken on iPhone and passed through a bit of post-production.
Dramatic skies A ski alpinist reaching the summit Fog in the valley Enjoying a moment of relax… …until my dad comes around …just to confirm the above
Was the sacrifice even worth it?
Now, amidst rapidly rising case counts this holiday season, there’s a sinking feeling of deja vu, and along with it, some uncanny post-traumatic stress as we are all reminded of the fear, worry and uncertainty of the first lockdown. Will schools close again in January? Are we facing many more months of isolation? Will small businesses and restaurants even survive? I’m sad, I’m angry, and again, reaching a breaking point because, time and time again, our politicians have claimed to prioritize the economy instead of human needs, while they make up the rules as they go.
Heading into the holidays now, and looking back at the longest March break on record, I can’t help but wonder what the sacrifice of staying home for months on end was really for. Is it because eating on a restaurant patio or playing a round of golf was more important than my child’s education? Was going to the mall essential but hugging grandparents a luxury?
This is the world we live in now. A world where my daughter, who intuitively holds hands and giggles with other little girls, has learned that her need to be close to others is tabooed a world where my son asks me in the car, “If Bubby and Papa get the virus, will they die, Mommy?” A world where my pandemic baby is now a ten month old who plays not in a playgroup, but with the baby in the mirror, or grandparents on FaceTime.
While my family is beyond fortunate, we are now staring down the barrel of a very long, cold, and isolated winter, a reminder of the cavernous hole, childhood innocence lost, the “supposed to” things, and the “would have been” moments that we are mourning collectively.
Since Eric’s tearful departure, my life has been non-stop busy. Only about three days after he went back to China did I end up moving out of my ugly room in student halls. Back in January, I was approached by a fellow Canadian postgraduate student at Goldsmiths, as he knew how unhappy I was living in halls and just how bad the accommodations staff are about fixing and updating the place, and he just so happened to have a flatmate moving out with her boyfriend, and he thought I would be a good choice of flatmate. Initially, I was a little hesitant about taking the offer it would mean leaving all of my wonderful floormates, least of all having to actually pack up and move all of the shit I have accumulated since moving to London. I really despise moving, despite being the one deciding to all the time.
I went to check out the apartment back in late January (back when I was sick as a dog for two weeks). The place was way better than I could have imagined. It was a double bed in a 3-bedroom flat on the bottom floor of a huge Victorian house right in New Cross, about a minute walk from my campus! I can actually see campus from the driveway!! Not to mention it has its own washer, a full size fridge and a bathtub. I was floored right then. The price was even better at just over £80 per week, minus utilities. I was definitely being ripped off at halls, paying £122 per week!
Initially, I was supposed to move in for the beginning of February, before Eric was to arrive. Unfortunately, the girl moving out was told she could not move into her new house for another two weeks, and so the chain of moving was delayed for all involved. Hence why Eric and I were squished into a single bed.
When the move was first agreed upon, I had emailed the accommodations office about taking up their offer of terminating my contract, since they had certainly not fulfilled their end. It took them a whole month to get back to me, about two days before my planned departure date. Worst of all, they acted like taking a month to get back to a tenant is perfectly acceptable, and had the nerve to say they were waiving a £50 admin fee as a courtesy gesture. Like, puh-leeze! Why would ANYONE in their right mind pay an admin fee for staff that do absolutely nothing? I responded: “Well that’s good, because I wasn’t going to pay it anyway.” Good riddance to that shit.
Once again alone in London, I started packing all of my things… and boy, did I acquire so many more things since I got here in September! Luckily, I also have some pretty amazing friends here already Daniel helped me move some things over Wednesday night and the next day Cathy came over with her car to bring the bulk of it to my new place. I had a whole car load plus two suitcases. Absolutely insane when you think I only had one large suitcase and a carry-on in September.
Little Darling, It's Been a Long, Cold, Lonely Winter - Game Thread: Spring Training Game 1
Today's quote, from "Here Comes the Sun," a great George Harrison song off Abbey Road that seemed to fit given our conversation about Harrison the other day. It's still winter, true, but it's pretty exciting that Spring Training games are now underway.
Today's game kicks off at 1 p.m. EST. Excitingly, not-even-rookie Brett Cecil will make the start for the Jays and is slated to pitch two innings for our Corvid heroes. Also scheduled to pitch are closer B.J. Ryan, who talked recently about how his slider was a mess last season and is excited about having the pitch back for this year, I have to say, it's a luxury to have a closer who felt like he had such a tough season last year and was still able to put up the numbers that Ryan did. A return to 2006 levels wouldn't shock me for Beej as his control improves and he gets his slider back. After Ryan, we're likely to see (or hear, I'll be at work) Rick Bauer, Ricky Romero, and Brian Burress.
Cito also mentioned that he plans to get Adam Loewen a lot of playing time. Scott Richmond, who leaves soon for the WBC, will get the start tomorrow, while Matt Clement will start Friday.
So, if you're around at all today, drop by and celebrate one of the great days of the year for us baseball-philes. Cheers!
Cold & Cove Publishingheavy snowfall on evergreens by the highway
I think we’re all feeling a bit weighed down by winter at this point, like the branches on all the trees we pass. We’re just beginning to see the light at the end of this snowy tunnel.
Predictably, it’s not the light of a magical being, come to whisk the snow away in one simple moment. The light is simply the sun.
O great and wonderful star, shine your light on us, that we may soak up all the vitamin D we’ve been lacking since we last spent time with you back in September. Bring forth the buds and blossoms on the trees, so that the cedar waxwings may descend into my yard and destroy any chance I had at eating any fresh, homegrown apples, just like last year. Sun, your luminosity amazes us, and we await your imminent arrival.
We’ve had the most snow we’ve seen in these parts since 1999 at least, and with the rapid approach our spring season is planning to take, everyone is bracing for flooded basements and worse. We’re in a lucky spot on our little property and should be okay, but our closest neighbours have already run into leaks galore. Reports are coming in from all corners of the city about ruined basements, cellars, garages, patios, and even a few temporarily washed out streets.
All of this is to say that spring is coming, bringing the good, the bad, and the downright ugly with it. Whether if in your neighbourhood, the birds and tweeting sweeter and the daffodils are starting to sprout, or if you’re trying to roll up a sodden carpet so you can bring out your armada of rented box fans, we’re feeling what you’re feeling.
We’re looking forward to leaves on the trees again, May flowers, and being able to open the office windows again, and we’re dreading the slushy streets, the wet socks no matter how careful you are, and honestly, the loss of a great reason to stay home, snuggle a pet, and read (“sorry, forgot to plug the car in overnight, guess I can’t go out today!”).
Cold and Cove Books have a few great, light romance stories coming up to get you refreshed and optimistic for spring. We can’t wait to share them with you to enjoy them in the two weeks of spring between the snow thaw and biting bug season!