by Max Akroyd
After a couple of trial runs, the weather now seems determined to be properly cold at night. This has a few consequences: my work in the garden is delayed until the soil is unfrozen, the animals huddle more and sleep more and, from the warmth of the house, the winter colours at each end of the day can take your breath away. The generous, obvious hues of the other seasons are replaced by unearthly, metallic tones which remind you that you are living only lightly protected from outer space.
I say ‘winter’ – but when is winter? For me it starts on the 21st of the month and not with the first cold weather. But a glance at Wikipedia suggests that winter can start on 1 November (Ireland, Scandinavia), 7 November (China) and 11 November (“many mainland European countries”). There’s probably no right answer, it’s odd though to be detached from any personal certainty about it, when I still know what time Sainsburys opens on a Sunday.
(Another consequence of the end of autumn is a less predictable working pattern in the garden. As a consequence I’ll be updating the day’s post during the course of each day. Please check back from time to time, if you like…)
The frost didn’t stop the strimmer. While the garden is asleep it’s possible to give it a radical makeover – a bit like shaving a drunken friend’s eyebrows off at the Christmas party. All those areas that made your heart sink with their hopeless overgrown-ness in the summer can now be easily obliterated and a new minimum level of control established. It’s holding that line which is the challenge. But full of frontier spirit I straightened and widened paths and re-opened areas which had defaulted back to wilderness while I was sleeping…