December

by Max Akroyd

Christmas bestrides this month like a colossus – actually more like a swivel-eyed monster of consumption, veins bulging with a trillion credit card fixes. It takes a great deal of skill and effort to avoid having your mundane plans trampled under his heavy foot, especially if you have four primary school age kids. Only time will tell if I can make it to the shortest day without being smeared across the soggy landscape by the festive juggernaut…

Dawn at Kervéguen, December 1st

Fortunately it’s a quiet month in the garden. It would be the quietest of all if it wasn’t for the solstice – that turn in the dead season’s long corner and the start of rebirth – if a circle can have a start. So, buried under the transient tat and junk is something renewed and really worth celebrating, a mortal being’s only verifiable experience of resurrection. Accordingly, the tide of  new year sowings starts shortly after the solstice, slowly but surely. It’s traditional among grumpy old men to escape to the potting shed on Boxing Day and get the first maincrop onions sown. I’ll be no exception providing my seed order shows up in time. Hopefully there’ll be some merely dormant trees for me under the dead old husk of the Christmas tree. Pear trees please.

With the onset of frosty mornings my stint in the garden will be moved to afternoon in the hopes of finding unlocked soil to work with. In the main, it’s a case of redoubling efforts to relieve the pressure in spring: getting trenches ready for March to pop potatoes into and beds ready for early carrots, parsnips, radishes, peas and everything else which is good about the new year…