I finally got my act together and put my hands into the soil over the weekend. Quickly drew them out again too, because it's still far too cold to be diddling about in the garden, and anyway, if I walk about on the lawns or the borders the soil would become compacted and rot off. It won't actually rot off, it'll just become compacted, airless and solid; I just rather liked the way rot off sounded as I wrote this. So far this winter we've had prolonged spells of freezing nights and fog-bound days. Sometimes the temperature doesn't rise above freezing from one weekend to the next, and the last thing the garden looks from the study is inviting. Throughout this enforced captivity both beloved firstborn and merci beaucoup enfant deux cope magnificently; taking to their beds 'til noon; making hot drinks; filling the dishwasher to bursting point almost daily; helpfully texting suggestions for that night's tea to be fetched on my way home... idle toe-rags.
The point at which the Riot Act was read came early in the New Year when I arrived home cold and fed up to a fridge bare of milk for a cup of tea. "Oh yes, I had the last of it on my breakfast cereal," ventured one recklessly brave undergraduate.
Punitive action inflicted, appropriately alarmed undergraduates subdued, dispersed and peaceably departed to their lawful business (their laundry, ironing and unloading the dishwasher), civil order was restored.
You can't read the Riot Act and expect the weather to take notice. You just have to accept the enforced exclusion from practical tasks and stand at the french windows, cup of tea in hand and day dream about the year ahead whilst finding delight in the present. The mixed deciduous hedge is the sparrows' playground, and invariably the point from which the wren emerges into the garden. I might need to lower it a bit this year, and if I can get it done before the end of February, I should be able to shape it without the hindrance of obscuring leaves. One of these days I'll make the time to take a hedge laying course. And a dry stone walling course. You can't live and work in our part of the rural English Midlands without passing a dry stone wall at some point in your day. Then there's the butchery course offered by some guy in ChesVegas. I could buy mercy boo that piglet she's been hankering for; call it "apple sauce"; non-permanent pet.
They are both back at uni now, and sent me texts from their halls where students gathered after their exams to watch the inauguration of Barack O'Bama, the first black Irish American President of the United States. Well done America, you voted in a good 'un.