It all began yesterday, with a trip to the butcher's to buy a sack of potatoes. I'd planned to buy some of his award-winning sausages too, but only had a tenner on me and knew I wouldn't be able to limit my sausages to £2.50's worth so didn't bother. I rather like his flirty manner conducted in that bluff Derbyshire fashion; no smiling, just a lot of unnecessary eye contact. I noticed this the first time I came to his shop bringing my Henckel kitchen knives for sharpening. He unwrapped the tea towels then looked up at me with that unblinking stare and said by way of introduction, "These are the worst knives you can buy."
On Saturday morning he was advising all his female customers to put the laundry off 'til tomorrow (see why he's my butcher?) because it was forecast to be ten degrees and a bit blowy. I mentally rearranged my weekend there and then. This morning I was up and out into the garden just after breakfast. The wind had picked up overnight and cleared all the fog and mizzle that's been hanging around in our part of sunny Derbyshire. For the first time in what seems like weeks I can see across the fields and valleys to the neighbouring villages, and my garden just shone under direct sunlight. Shadows at last in the kitchen garden.
In early November the sudden onset of prolonged freezing weather caused all my fruit trees and hedges to shed leaves pretty much overnight. With the snow finally melted, all the paths in the kitchen garden and the lawns elsewhere need to be raked over and cleared. This took a couple of hours and I remembered to use a couple of gravel boards on the lawns to keep compression to a minimum. I'd love to burn the leaves in the first bonfire of the new year but they were too wet and went under the hedges instead.
The soil has finally defrosted and I can get a fork into the beds and borders. Just as well really, as I'd bought more Pheasant's Eye Narcissus in the pre-Christmas sales and today feels like the first opportunity to bury the booty. They usually flower in May, so I'm banking on four months growth to make up for their late planting. I stopped mid-morning for a chat with my farming neighbours, then cracked on. There's a madness that can take over when you've been kept out of your garden by bad weather. What starts with raking leaves and planting bulbs can develop pretty quickly into weeding, hacking and trowelling. You know those bits of litter that blow into your garden, bits of crisp bags or chocolate wrappers, odd supermarket receipts? I found all sorts of bits and pieces together with old plastic plant labels and even a yogurt pot. Where the hell did that come from? Never mind; my garden looks brighter, tidier and I feel knackered.
I'm currently saving for a set of Giesser butcher's knives...