Sunday, December 29, 2013

small favors

Anyone who studies weather maps could have told you this was coming. We've been inundated with warnings of winds and freezing precipitation and arctic blasts. But did it all have to come so early in the day and with such deeply gray skies?

Worse: when I get up and walk toward the northern (bathroom) window, I see that a new coating of ice is forming on the porch roof. I mean, not even 24 hours of pristine clarity! Yes, I knew we would have snow. But ice again? What a total disappointment!

And much as I love to torture my Ocean friends with accounts of repeat trips onto the roof, I can tell you this much: ice without a thaw is impossible to remove. And it will make it that much more difficult to push off snow when it does come.

Shrug your shoulders and move on!

It's Sunday! Farmhouse-cleaning day!

And, therefore, a very late breakfast. Some would possibly call it lunch, even as the components for me never change.

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Since it is mighty cold outside and terribly uninviting, I consider whether this is the point where I reenter my book project.

No, not yet. There are still big interruptions ahead. And besides, there is the seed catalog waiting for our inspection and, too, an Ed on the couch next to me, ready and happy to distract me with it.

So we settle in and begin formulating a plan for our vegetable garden for next spring. And you would think that this is an easy task. Tomatoes. Sure. Cucumbers. Peas. And, as of last summer, a new favorite -- corn. But, there is the annual squabble that we go through -- whether to use old packets of unused seeds, or entirely new ones, packaged for the 2014 season. Guess who wants to use up the old ones?

Yes, and he always wins (for the most part: we do throw in some new varieties). And when a plant is deficient in some fashion, he'll blame the weather (we planted it too early!) and I'll blame it on using dated stuff (see -- here it says that the root stock is weaker!) and of course, there is no ready answer and we'll go on like this for years, I'm sure, because we like to hang on to our own convictions.

Still, it is an exciting thing to be thinking ahead toward May.  We are hungry for that season, especially when the outside weather is this unpleasant. We add to the shopping cart that ever wonderful strawberry we discovered last year (Mara des Bois), and asparagus, and some broccoli spears, even though Ed swears that broccoli does not like the soil at the farmette. I intend to prove him wrong.

An afternoon can pass in a snap when you're thinking spring thoughts. Feeling somewhat guilty at being so couch-bound, I take a very brisk walk up our beautiful rural road (and yes, I have to admire that winter sky, gray as it is)...

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...and spend the rest of the afternoon unthawing my frozen limbs.

And here's a shock: as I glance outside now, at dusk, I see that the thin ice on the porch roof is no more! Somewhere in the course of the day, presumably before the arctic blast blasted upon us, there was enough warm air that it up and melted! Don't believe me? Look at this!

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Evening. The lights shine through the now almost clear again roof.

But it is now very very cold. The kind of cold that keeps you firmly indoors. Except that we promised ourselves bowling. It is the night of the cheap game at the bowling alley and since my daughter is not here for dinner this week, we take a deep breath and head out for the lanes.

...where we play five games, four of which are quite terrible for me, but all quite good for Ed.

After, we were to pick up take-out food, but honestly -- it seemed a waste. I'm tired, but surely I'm capable of roasting a head of cauliflower and boiling some eggs to add to a salad. Throw in a handful of sauteed shrimp and we have an easy meal.

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I'm sure there is a moon out there tonight. But it's far too cold for me to go out and confirm it for you. -8 is the expected low. Ridiculous? Well, it could have been even colder. I appreciate every small favor and every extra degree that gets thrown our way.