I have knocked down our old greenhouse, and with the help of two small boys wielding hammers and wearing sunglasses to protect their eyes from stone splinters, broken up the foundations. Now the glass and the twisted pieces of aluminium and the pieces of half brick and concrete sit in the village trailer waiting to be taken to the dump. In the Spring we hope to put a new greenhouse up next to our vegetable patch.
One blessing of living in the country is that each season is richly anticipated. In mid summer, with the wheat blond in the fields and the morning sunshine rousing our two boys maddeningly early from their beds, I found myself looking forward to autumn and winter. I loved the heavy snows of 2010/11 for the isolation and quiet they brought to our village, and the rituals freezing weather brought to our home: log chopping, fires burning throughout the day, snowball fights, long walks out into the white landscape, the constant re-stocking of our bird feeders.
I am hoping for the same severe weather this year, the same sensation of travelling into the darkness and in December the idea that there is no going back, one just has to keep walking and trust that the light will return. The brilliant short days of ice and wind. I am feeling prepared. I chopped a lot of wood in August, and the log store is full. We have a tarpaulin over the weakest section of our thatched roof, which come March will be replaced with new water reed (hopefully I will be able to source this from Norfolk – these days most reed comes from the Danube Delta or even China); Clara and I have waterproofed the gates to our drive; we have picked half of our apples and turned some of them into cider using a neighbour’s press; the last of the potatoes are picked; I have turned the empty vegetable beds and covered them with matting hoping that this will kill our bindweed; the cowl is on the chimney above the snug but the fire still smokes terribly; the sloes are picked for gin; the loppers and the cutters and the secateurs have been oiled and put away. I have a pile of prunings and off-cuts to burn. When we can afford it we are going to carpet the hall, and put a wood burner in the snug. Tomorrow my Christmas supplies of wine and manzanilla arrives. Blow, wind! come, wrack!