30 January 2017


We're still lighting a fire every night and hanging rugs and curtains over the front and back doors. The front one doesn't fit very well, but draught excluder means it doesn't close at all. Meanwhile the back door has finally come off its top hinge and the rotting, centuries old wood has given up under my repeated attempts to fix things. So it's not actually a door anymore, it's a very heavy old piece of wood that is propped up in the gap at the bottom of the kitchen stairs. Did I mention that it doesn't fit either because none of the walls are straight?

But we adapt for the winter the way people lucky enough to have a roof over their head always have. We put up with the mud and general garden/woods/field mulch that comes in on shoes and paws and ends up, somehow, halfway up walls and all over everything. This is where the concept of Spring Cleaning comes from, no doubt. At least in this neck of the woods that is truly a neck of the woods. Until drier warmer days when fixing and cleaning can be done, we wrap ourselves and the cottage in blankets, light fires and keep the lamps low so we don't have to look at the way the place has turned into some kind of badger sett. Such is the resemblance that last week an actual four-legged badger crossed the lane into our garden overnight and dug up grass in search of good eating. We're badger territory these days. I like to think he recognised kindred souls because, after digging about a dozen holes, he headed next door and utterly destroyed their lawn. Clearly they are too human and clean to be respected.

It's a dark, dreaming time here on the edges of NE Europe (we may not be part of a political alliance for much longer but we are where we are geographically, culturally and, for many of us, emotionally) when old stories and half-forgotten plans are discovered in a rusty tin, sitting on the shelf at the back of our minds. Do we dust them off and plan their planting, or shelve them again with a twinge of regret? I've had one such story - that was written for me maybe far longer ago than even I'm aware - read back to me again and again recently. As I lie awake in the early hours, now given over to healing practices rather than anxiety or audio books, I'm facing a guide who's telling it like it is. Telling me to get off my arse and get on with it. Prepare the ground. Brush off that seed packet that bears a label with my name on it. Or not. It's up to me. He's just sayin'.

So here I am.