Sunday, February 21, 2010

Autumn clean up

I've already told Marg and Jen my great dramas of the week but as they are less than half of my readership, just, and because Mama is probably wondering what the fire engine sticker was doing on her letter this week...I'll boil my cabbages twice and mention the chimney fire. We were going away for the week-end and leaving all the boys home alone. Marg's words where still ringing in my ears 'so long as they don't burn the house down' when I noticed a stray spark and the chimney glowing red hot. I shut the fire right down and yelled and rang for help and then had time for that terrible moment of panic the house is burning down, what do I grab? In hindsight I thought of lots of things, paintings and photos probably but at the time, nothing. There was nothing I cared about more than being alive.

By this stage David had whacked the chimney with the rolling pin and seemed cheerful enough so my natural pragmatism won out and I decided to wait and see how things went before carting anything outside. Bill swept the chimney that afternoon.
Boys astounded us by having the house tidy when we got home and managing extremely well. I had a first glimpse of all that parenting donkey work paying off; the relentless coaching on dishes and washing and so on that never seems to really permeate as long as you are around, but it has. Hey ho.

Carrots are ready for thinning. Ground needs to be kept moist enough to wiggle them out without pulling off the tops, whoops, or leaving half the carrot in the ground. The triumph of these carrots is no carrot fly. It was David's idea, plant them right at the bottom of the property while the carrot flies weren't looking, and put them amongst the emergent peas. Apparently carrot flies fly close to the ground and won't hop over a barrier. It has certainly worked so far.
Anyway, I discovered the cure for gardening inertia in the form of a visiting Swiss student Tabeah who is eager to help and comes genetically equipped with a Swiss work ethic. Buoyed by the prospect of someone else to toil alongside I've leapt the first hurdle and begun the Autumn clean-up.

First beneficiary the yams. Discovered belatedly that they need earthing up like potatoes. Well there's nothing down under there yet and somehow the yams are supposed to miraculously appear after the frosts take out their tops. Here's hoping.

Still harping on about the cucumbers. Green shorts squarepants has taken fright and set fruit and earned a repreive. I'll grow this one again. It's very good eating and big enough for two.

I did say Autumn back there. It's suddenly dark in the mornings and colder at night. Rose, a farmer near here, who looks at the sky and knows where the clouds have come from, and what that means, says that the rats are gathering bones and the birds are already eating the Rowan berries. Translated that means it's going to be a long winter. Even I have noticed the first mouse strolling about the house and another rummaging in the compost bin, while Katie (the cat) seems oblivious to it.

Ate the first yellow tomato this week. I planted the seed at the very end of October last year, so that's 3 months 3 weeks, about 110 days till first fruit. Pinched out the growing tip early to get the crop home and hosed before the frosts begin in earnest, about a month away. Look at all that fruit yet to ripen; most seem to have a double truss on the second layer. It's hard to tell whether they have quite the same bite as a red tomato. Will have to make a pasta sauce and see if I can get past the colour.

On the occasion of a year since Dad died I'll give the last word to Shakespeare:

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,

So do our minutes hasten to their end;

Each changing place with that which goes before,

In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

Or perhaps on a more macabre note:

No longer mourn for me when I am dead

Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell

Give warning to the world that I am fled

From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell;

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  1. Cripes Miri, glad the chimney fire came to nought. Totally fascinated by the idea that rats and birds know it's going to be a long winter. From a selfish point of view I keep thinking of all the lovely wool garments I could make myself. I totally love sewing with wool. It's right up there with silk, only you can wear it every day and be totally sensible about it. The good news for you (if you can call it that) is there are bound to be lots of cast offs. (thanks, but no thanks?)

  2. How hilarious that you maintain your calm demeanour even as the flames fly from the top of the chimney!
    Green tomatoes, well, I've had some great green tomato products and some horrible ones, but I'm sure anything YOU make will be wonderful.
    I am so fascinated by the reading of the rat bones and the bird feeding activity. You learn something every day and in the country you learm something super interesting every day, it seems.

  3. Yes, Cripes indeed. (I like that word "cripes" - it used to appear frequently in the British children books - Just William, and the like.). If we had a fire, we would grab all Bill's artwork, coffee pot and chocolate. AT least you can then have a nice hot drink while the fire engines arrive.

    Re the boys housekeeping skills - They were trained young - we still laugh about the day we turned up to Ravensbourne, you and Bill outside with a cuppa, Giles waving from inside as he had the hoover, and Louis appearing with toilet brush in hand. I think they were about 8 then. We'll have to start Llouis with a chore list.

    Hope to see you sometime soon - hi Bill and Boys.
    Love MAry

  4. Now those are photos of a garden that is productive. Truly inspiring!!