I feel a bit at the moment like we are in stasis. It has been so cold and wet that nothing is growing, not even the weeds. The soil is solid clay and sticks to spades, rakes, hoes and boots. If I walk on it, I just make it impossible to hoe or dig when it dries out, so I don’t plant. There are the four little bud leaves of turnips beginning to appear from the row I planted a week ago, but little else is happening. Steve’s had to leave painting the house until he gets back from England – it’s pointless to even try to paint outdoors at the moment, given that it is so wet. With such low temperatures as well, the paint takes ages to dry.
And although we might be in stasis as we wait for the weather to dry up – and I’m glad I waited, since I’ve already heard stories of people losing everything they’d planted out, and how I laughed when I heard the French won’t put anything outside before the middle of April, but the frost has already had its wicked way with my courgettes and some mirabilis – things are still growing in the lean-to, and everything is looking very green in there. I’ve leeks waiting for space, alongside cauliflowers and three types of cabbage. I’ve tomatoes waiting for air and light and space, too. Not only that, but I’ve not been able to get on with my flowerbed and whilst the earth has been turned over, it’s waiting.
This time last year, it was 25°, compared to 12° today. The night last year was warmer than the daytime today. I know last year was a fluke – and an exceptionally dry year – and if the truth be told, I welcome the rain, but I don’t welcome the cold. We had to have a fire yesterday – that’s how cold it is. In fact, it’s colder than it was in December – and with the days being longer, with the earth having more time to warm up, it feels colder – and not to mention the fact we had fires all the way through December. I planted out our tomatoes a full two weeks earlier last year, and this year, they are still languishing in the warmth of the lean-to.
And had I followed last year’s planting, the courgettes, the melon, the peppers, the chili peppers – they would have all turned wet looking and sad like my mirabilis and the courgette. I’m glad I held on. Steve is itching to get them outside, but as it is, they’re best inside. After April 1st, in 2011, it didn’t dip under 20° during the daytime – so you can understand why waiting is irritating me. I just keep reminding myself that good things happen to she who waits – and it best be true. I can batten down the hatches over winter and hibernate, but right now, I want to be outside, planting stuff!
In the meantime, I’ve been trying to get ahead with some things and make sure I’ve done everything I need to do before the marking season starts – then at least I’ve hopefully got a few things out of the way so that I can get into the garden when the sun does start shining. It feels like all my spring is spent building up to the fruitful season, whether it be a social life, work life or things growing out of the ground. Summer is fruition. Autumn is preparation. Winter is waiting. And this is supposed to be my busy time!
What’s worse is that it doesn’t seem set to end – not unlike the snow, which seemed like it would never go. Where last year, the potatoes were already shooting, this year, the ground is still unbroken. Lettuces are still tiny, radishes are little beads, no pea flowers yet, wilted-looking broad beans. I’ve not even thought as far ahead as the last summer crops, like sweetcorn, since every available space is waiting with things to go outside.
And in the meantime, I just have to wait. There’s so little to do, though. I’m reading Game of Thrones, since I enjoyed the series so much. However, last night I found out that George R. R. Martin has only done five of the seven planned books and I’m so gripped on it that I might not be able to contain myself. What if he dies and I am never able to find out who will finally rule, whether the Starks will get the kingdom, whether Daenerys will take back the throne. It’s all too frustrating. And whilst they are good books, the fact that all the good guys who I want to rule die, it means there’s not much left. I hope Daenerys’ dragons grow to full size and kill all of the Lannisters.
I felt a little like this when I was waiting for two kind-of teenage series to work through. One of these was the most excellent Tales of the Otori series that took me to Japan because I so needed to see a nightingale floor for myself. The second of these was the Wolf Brother series, which would be a mighty fine Game of Thrones for teenagers. It picked up one of the largest advances for teen fiction, beyond that of the Harry Potter books. The good thing is that Lian Hearn and Michelle Paver rattled out those books like you wouldn’t believe, so it was a pleasant wait – and a wait you knew would be fulfilled – just as it was for the Harry fans. However, I get the feeling that GRRM might just give up and never write the final books – and that he himself doesn’t quite know where it will end. If he doesn’t get his act sorted, I’ll seek him down. I hate it when things aren’t finished.
Anyway, I shall continue with my reading, wearing my three jumpers and my winter socks, and waiting for the time I get to put my shorts on.