Dear Readers, winter has arrived here in East Finchley. For the past few mornings I’ve been hearing the tell-tale sound of windscreens being scraped as I log in to my computer for yet another day of spreadsheet wrangling. Outside, some of the plants have collapsed temporarily in the frost, though I know that they’ll all revive gradually as it thaws a little during the day. We’re in for another week of temperatures in the low to mid 30s though, so anyone with their pelargoniums still outside is in for a shock.
I’ve had a shocking cough for about three weeks now – everybody that I speak to is suffering from some variant on colds/coughs/Covid/flu. I’ve tested negative for Covid every time I’ve tested, but this does feel like something new. I smoked until I was about 30 and got bronchitis every winter (like the idiot that I was), but since giving up I’ve not had much worse than a tickle, until this year. At what point do I break and actually speak to the doctor (supposing I can get an appointment)? With the NHS under such stress I really don’t want to add to the burden, but this is getting me down a bit now. I keep thinking it’s improving, and then thinking that it isn’t. Oh well, at least I’m not the only one.
Between work and the lurgy I haven’t been outside much, but to my surprise today I spotted that my little clematis, planted last year, has a few fragile flowers. What a sweet little plant! It looks very straggly at the bottom, but then this is going on at the top. It pays to get outside even if it’s just for a few minutes. There are always surprises. I have no idea how to look after this particular clematis re pruning etc by the way, so if anyone has any ideas, fire away!
My poor potted mahonia is flowering again. Every year I think about putting it in the soil, and every year I forget. Maybe 2023 will actually be the year when I release it from its imprisonment. If any bee was so daft as to come out of hibernation today (and it’s sunny, so if the hibernation spot gets the sunbeams it might warm up enough to encourage a queen bumblebee to take a chance) at least there will be something to eat.
And the pond is frozen solid, but we’ll break it a little around the edge so that the birds can drink. My husband has been out in his parka pouring boiling water on the bird bath and filling up all the feeders, bless him. I can hear the goldfinches massing already, and apparently he was mugged by a robin as soon as he came out of the shed with the suet. He has optimistically put some orange segments on the bird table, so I shall be fascinated to see if anyone is interested.
The leaves on the ribes are looking very splendid in their slightly-frosted condition.
The cold is decorative but for those already struggling with energy bills it’s a disaster. I had a Zoom call with someone yesterday who has had long covid, and yet is living in a freezing house, to such an extent that he took the call wrapped in a scarf, hat, several jumpers and an anorak. So many people are feeling the strain already. The foodbank collectors on our street have set themselves a target of getting 70 bags of food in the next five days, and I’m sure that they’ll achieve it. If there’s one thing that the last few years have taught us, it’s that we have to look out for one another and help where we can, for both our animal and human communities.
Incidentally, for those of you in the UK who are reeling from your energy company’s estimated bills, here are two calculators so you can see if you’re being ripped off…
And now I’m off for some ginger and lemon and honey tea, lovingly concocted by my husband. I’ll let you know how it goes !