Stolen hours and small miracles

Stolen hours and small miracles

It’s been rather gloomy for the past few weeks, with the days full of rain or cloud or both, and the daylight never seeming to really break through.

But today was different. Today was full of bright golden winter sunlight, the kind that takes the edge off a bitterly cold day while you’re in it, and makes you realise just how much it’s been helping when you’re in the shade.

But, there was a balance to be found today, I had countless things to do around the house, no least of which was taking down the last of Xmas decorations and putting them away for another year, I had tidying and a hundred other jobs to do in the garden – jobs that have been staring at me for weeks, but which its just been far to soggy and unpleasant to be getting on with, and I have editing to do on my Glass Darkly novel which I finished writing last night.

Now, I’m eager to get on with the editing of the first episode of my Glass Darkly story because I’d really like to try and get the proof copies out to my beta readers in early Feb, but nice days are few and far between at this time of year and the prospect of an entire day spent indoors was just unthinkable, and I’m glad it was because the few hours I’ve spent pottering around the garden today have been a joy. Amongst other things I’ve finally gotten around to dividing and replanting my Japanese Borage, which is a lovely back of the border plant that has really made a home for itself beneath one of my hedges. But being the greedy gardener that I am, having seen it make a home in one place I immediately want to see if do the same in several others. I’ve done the same with a clump of Crocosmia at the end of the drive that’s needed dividing for about three years. I’ve also lopped a low branch of my apple tree which has snagged me on more than a few occasions in the past while I’ve been mowing the grass, dug up the last of my Christmas new potatoes, cleared the litter from the hedges and under shrubs, finally gotten around to taking my broad bean canes out, trimmed my still flowering lavender shrubs back to where they won’t soak my trousers every time I step out of the back door, and raked the majority of leaves from the lawn.

Do I have another dozen jobs that I could do with another couple of cold sunny days to be getting on with, yes and probably more besides, but getting some of these done feels good, and spending a few hours in the bright sunlight feels even better. But what’s better still? I did all this knowing the weather forecast for the evening was for several hours of snow, which is now falling and laying on the ground in increasingly picturesque amounts.

I’ve only had a peak out at it through the windows and the back door, but snow has a wonderfully transformative quality even on an ordinary day, but today, having sorted out so many little jobs, all of which make the garden look and feel that little bit better, that layer of snow that is already lying heavy on the boughs of my apple tree, and has covered my now compact lavenders, that’s just magical.

The miracles however are not restricted to the snow. Because I spent a few hours in the garden today I noticed some other little miracles scattered around the place. I knew it was cold today when even after a couple of hours of steady work in several layers as well as hat, scarf and gloves I didn’t begin to overheat. I wasn’t cold, but ordinarily a couple of hours in an I invariably start to shed a few layers. But then I noticed a bucket I’d left lying around that had filled with water, still had a perfect disk of ice on top when I carried it over to empty the water onto a flower bed that’s sheltered by a large conifer (the soil is always dry there no matter what the weather has been doing). I found the same when I fished a paper cup that had been deposited by the winds out from under one of my shrubs. Such an unpromising soggy cardboard thing, and yet it contained another perfect disk of crystal clear ice.

For a moment these disks of water sent my mind wandering . . . could i leave a few shallow containers lying around on winters days like this to create some temporary ice decorations for some of the trees in my garden. They probably wouldn’t last more than a few hours, but they’d catch the light wonderfully while they did.

But then I noticed a small patch of snowdrops just setting flower through the frosty grass, and of course its impossible for anyone to see a snowdrop without thinking of the spring, and that immediately sent my mind down a completely different path. I have Hellebores in full flower a the moment, and a Peony that’s only been in the ground for a couple of months that’s provided one bright vibrant flower that lasted a day before one of my local squirrels nibbled it off, but which has another dozen buds all promising to provide some much needed colour before too long, but while both of these are lovely, in mind they’re also linked firmly with the winter, whereas the snowdrops cannot help but be linked to the crocuses, and the crocuses to the daffodils and the daffs to the tulips, which time you’re so thoroughly into spring its only just possible to remember the winter.

Yes, I’ve enjoyed my day in the garden, may there be many others not too far in the future.