Why is it still so cold?! A week or two ago, there was a gloriously sunny day. I spent most of it in the garden and could truly feel the warmth of the sun’s rays on my skin. It was heavenly! Now it is freezing again. Yesterday we had sunshine, sleet, snow and hail all in the space of just a few hours. I know it is an awfully British thing to talk (and complain) about the weather, but this winter has felt longer than I remember any winter ever feeling.
The poor daffodils came out, shining so brightly, only to be met by snow and frost a few days later. Their yellow heads lie exhausted on the verges. Next week is my birthday and on my birthday last year I was at the beach, sitting at the base of the dunes, soaking up the sun and warmth. It is impossible to imagine it will be like that again this year. But you never know, the weather changes completely from one day to the next.
I have found myself thinking of Rosie a lot lately. A thought of her will pop into my head quite unexpectedly. I miss her more dearly than I could have imagined and sometimes even feel a pang of annoyance that she has gone. Oh grief, what a strange creature you are!
I remember after she passed away someone commented to me about how we have a tendency to push death into the background and not think about it too much. That is not true for me at all! I think about death most days. I think about my parents dying, my siblings dying, Ben dying, my neighbours dying, my friends dying, me dying and the death I witness every day out in nature. Just a few days ago Ben and I saw a Kestrel swoop across a meadow, snatch a small bird from a branch, and return to the top of a pole where the little bird looked as though it was being devoured, poor thing. Life and death are everywhere.
Still, there are some beautiful things happening amidst the bleakness. Through January and February I planted a whole packet of sweet peas – around 25 seeds in total – and put them on a windowsill inside. Almost all of them have germinated and I’ve moved some outside now into the cold frame.
At the end of February, I gave the clematis and honeysuckle, which wrap around the fence of the garden perimeter, a much needed hard prune. It has left the fence rather bare and the garden lacking privacy and so for this summer I plan to plant sweet peas and runner beans up canes along the fence line. I have visions of walls of sweet peas filling the whole place with a scent so beautiful it could make you collapse from happiness. I really hope I can bring this vision to life.
To put a tiny seed in a small pot of Earth, to place it on a windowsill and to see the first green shoot appear after a week or two is one of the most miraculous things I’ve ever experienced. And it never gets less exciting.
I also planted some lettuce seeds. A couple of years ago for my birthday my parents gave me a little wooden tool used to make small ‘pots’ out of newspaper, which are ideal for starting off seeds. It is one of my favourite gifts as it reminds me so much of my dad, who has spent many an hour during the winter months over the years in his workshop making newspaper pots.
To me, if there is an antidote to despair, it is gardening. When I am in the garden, life makes sense. Or at least as much sense as it could make being alive on a spinning planet somewhere in space.
My dears, my loves, I hope you are well and finding your way through this strange life. May we find joy in the simple things offered freely by Mother Earth. May we close our eyes and feel the exquisite rest in the silence. May we take small, imperfect steps forward in the directions that feel right and good. And may we find our tribe, the people who ‘get us’ and give great thanks that we have found others in the world who think and feel as we do. You are my tribe and I’m grateful for you.
Love and courage,