Officially, Winter doesn’t start until 21st December but I always feel we are well into it by then, with the shortest day just a few days later. So, for me, my birthday usually marks its beginning. Especially as I refuse to even think about Christmas until my birthday is over.
Someone has definitely notified the Powers That Be that I am right and that winter is upon us. There has been snow on and off for a couple of weeks now and this week has brought high winds and torrential rain. We haven’t had anywhere near as many problems as down south of course, but there is flooding in the fields up off the main road into York and we had a miniature paddling pool in our hall this week, where the rain had come in under the door. We dried it off as best we could and put cardboard down under the mat to try and soak up any more. Of course, wet or not, the cats thought this change in décor was just for them and we have found them both sitting on the cardboard at various times through the day.
You may remember our expertly fitted water collection system that D put in earlier in the year. It has been a little too efficient recently and the butts are totally full. We have had to drain some of it off, to stop the water getting too stagnant at the bottom. It feels totally wrong to be wasting water but one thing is sure – the garden certainly doesn’t need it at the moment! We had good intentions about putting the garden to bed properly for the winter – forking over the lawn to improve the drainage, tidying the leaves and fallen apples and replacing the plants in the pots. However, we were overtaken by events (and the weather) and now it all feels too late. It appears so far still to be a very green space, with the evergreen hedge and the Pampas grass, which burst splendidly into flower one day last month to bring us some pleasure over the next few months. And the beech hedge and the hydrangea have glowed in their autumn glory colours – I intend to make the most of them until they drop their leaves altogether.
Perhaps the most poignant sign for me that we are heading into darker months was watching my neighbour putting their sunflower in the garden waste bin to be taken away. For months that sunflower has smiled at me from their front garden every time I have walked past and it made me happy just to see it. Now it is gone, until they and their children plant another in the spring.
We still have leeks and sprouts in the veg patch to keep us going, although we have hesitated to plant any other late veg, as D has grand plans to redesign the space in the spring. Our late salad has gone totally mad, though, and appears to be surviving the weather so far. It’s a shame it’s too cold to eat it! I am constantly craving mashed potatoes, hearty soups and hot chocolate at the moment – salad doesn’t really figure. It was a good lesson learned for us though – salad sown straight into the ground has done far better than any that we tried to nurture in the greenhouse.
So I can definitely feel hibernation mode coming on. We have logs in the woodstore, coal in the bunker and the oil is being filled this week for the boiler. The cats agree – we offer them an open door in the mornings but they usually head straight back to bed instead. They pop out later, just to check that all is well in their empire and then come quickly back inside for a warm-up and another nap. The radiator bed is in constant demand, as is the rug before the fire. They definitely have this new simple life stuff cracked and, at least through the winter, I intend to follow their example as much as I possibly can!