There is something different about the start of this year. There’s a sense of urgency to 2018 that doesn’t usually kick in until mid-Februrary. January is generally pretty laid back as we, and the land, slowly start waking up after Winter’s big sleep. You can almost hear the landscape yawning as the first daffs start poking their heads out. I really enjoy those lazy, tousle-headed weeks, quietly planning by the fire with no sense of urgency to do anything about implementing those plans for a few weeks more. I don’t have to make any hard and fast decisions. I took great pleasure in pottering around the garden, imagining what I might plant without committing. Not this year. This year is already full steam ahead. It’s time to make some serious lists.
I spent the first half of January in Brussels battling the flu. I returned, looking forward to a few weeks of gentle cogitation, as I planned the coming months. Once I got home, however, it was clear that things had started to get moving while I was away. Spring is hurtling towards us. The grass in the fields is lush. The snowdrops are up. The Camelia is in full flower and the daffs are not far behind. Imbolc this year will be blooming. Which means that a number of jobs that I thought could be scheduled for March, should probably be done asap. If you don’t get in there and clear stuff now, the job will double by April… To make matters worse, we are only just starting to get a handle on the devastation left behind by Ophelia back in October. The property still looks like it was zapped by alien spaceships, with trees snapped and trunks everywhere. We need to get some semblance of order out there before the real growth spurt starts, or we’ll have to hack through a jungle of brambles to get to the trees. Not to mention the fact that our potato patch is covered in the crown of a giant Scots pine. We can’t dig them up until a tree surgeon clears it. First on the list: clear trees. Second on the list: dig the potatoes. Third: landscape the new big open spaces where the trees used to be.
And it’s not just the garden. The house seems intent on pushing for renovations. Start a new list labelled: House. It’s been a few years of relative calm, but in the past few weeks the House, with a capital H, has become a major project again. For starters we had the immersion start leaking the day before Christmas Eve. I am proud to say that we staved off replacing it until January thanks to my brilliant idea of using adult nappies to temporarily stop the water leaking through the ceiling and into the kitchen. A new tank was put in this week, so that’s the first thing on the House list crossed out!
Water seems to be a major theme to the start of 2018. I have rarely seen the land this wet. Everywhere is sodden. The vegetable patch out the back is muddy. The grass in front of the house feels like a squishy waterlogged sponge. To add to the wetness, our water pipe has sprung a leak. Not a big one, but enough to make us consider upgrading our entire water system. Ophelia tore through the trees between the well and the pump house. She also made it clear that we need an alternative energy source to pump our well when the electricity goes out – Add planning a new water system, and buying a generator, right under tree clearing and landscape design.
There are other lists of course: the usual Get fit list, Admin jobs list, Budgeting etc. All are vying for our attention as we emerge from the Winter. Time to wake up! The evenings are just about to get normal again. Let’s hope we are spared any more bad weather. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get cracking…