This is it!

From feeling like a Baked Alaska to touching crisp, sun-warmed towels, this is the time of year I love most

IT BLOODY SNOWED here on Monday. But, overall, the signs are that Spring is getting 2021 in a headlock at last.

Yesterday, I was out running in warm sunshine, wearing my shorts – alternately horrifying and dazzling passers-by as bright light bounced back off my veiny old white legs.*

Afterwards, I walked up to our allotment and watered for the first time this year.

My wife’s been working on the plot for months as an escape from lockdown, and it’s looking in particularly fine fettle as a result.

We look like getting a bumper crop of strawberries, while the patches containing onions, garlic and raspberries are all weeded, composted and ready to grow. Purple Sprouting Broccoli is already… um, sprouting. Wildly.

At home, Her Indoors is already potting and hardening off** the next tranche of plants – summery crops, ready to go into the ground when it warms up a bit more. Greedily, I gaze at these infant leeks, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and artichokes, and their promise of eagerly-anticipated High Summer.

Gardening is a show of faith that there will be something to look forward to”

One of the great psychological benefits of gardening, of growing things, is that it’s a kind of pact with the future. What I mean is, planning a garden – leaving stuff in the ground, and trusting it to grow – is a show of faith that there will be something to look forward to further down the line, which in turn makes you want to be there to see and taste it.

Continue reading “This is it!”

Let’s All Stop Hating On February

It’s the month when things start to change for the better – just not fast enough

Original images: Prawny, Darwin Laganzon, Clear Free Vector Images (all via Pixabay)

IF EVER A MONTH had no mates, it would surely be February.

The 28 days we’re currently living through – or should that be enduring? – have had no end of detractors. In word and song, as well as in real life.

Perhaps its most famous rinsing came 50 years ago, when Don McLean sang: “February made me shiver/with every paper I’d deliver”.

And since then, a long queue of writers and musicians has formed to give our least favourite month a proper kicking.

Author Anna Quindlen, for example, once called Feb “a suitable month for dying”.

“Everything around is dead,” she added, “the trees black and frozen so that the appearance of green shoots two months hence seems preposterous, the ground hard and cold, the snow dirty, the winter hateful, hanging on too long.”

Alice McDermott asked: “late afternoon in early February, was there a moment of the year better suited for despair?”

Terrible, dreepy, dark”

Sebastian Barry, meanwhile, called the year’s second month: “Terrible, dreepy, dark”, and Clive Barker likened it to a monster, writing: “The great grey beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.”

But, personally, I think we should be laying off February: for me it’s nowhere near as horrible as it’s made out to be, at least on this side of The Pond.

In fact, February is the month when things start to change for the better – it’s real problem is that it doesn’t change things quickly enough.

Continue reading “Let’s All Stop Hating On February”