Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Spring beckons change

Ageless beauties
The warmth of the sun is comforting on this late February afternoon. It's been a relentless battle on the island of Ireland the last two months - human versus Atlantic storms. We try to keep our heads down as the winds roar - as they shake the utmost out of the delicate structures we build (the greenhouse survived but the neighbour's fence didn't). As water pours from the sky and the waves lift up onto seaside towns and villages, we run/swim/paddle as fast as we can but there are inevitable casualties. 

Of course for us flatlander midlanders there is no fear of waves but we contend with rivers bursting banks and the mighty Shannon lifting the land and all around it. Now, after decades of soothsaying scientists, people are finally taking heed that the global climate is deflecting from the accustomed pattern - the pattern that we have built our livelihoods and settlements and sowing and harvesting regimes about. Whether you choose to believe or not to believe that the current global climatic anomalies are a consequence of human activities, one thing is for sure is that just a rising tide lifts all boats and floods shacks and mansions indiscriminately, so too must we all adapt and strategise for a future that my not be so dependable and predictable. Instead of wondering will change come we will have to get off the fence and start working to adapt to changes that are likely to prove challenging to those of us who were hoping to perpetuate our current ambient living condition. 

spring patch
Here in the Holly Cottage we were spared the worst - no loss of electricity (and the precious bounty of tomatoes and strawberries in the freezer were hence saved), no loss of greenhouse, no flooding of the local rivers but plenty of beech and oak giants toppled in the Charleville woods and as already hinted at, the neighbour's fence collapsed. This means loss of privacy to us humans but Holly has gained a massive extension to her garden patrol area and she now must defend her previously isolated empire from all the bigger dogs from up the road. Poor Holly. 

Within our own little patch we have been gifted with a bounty of crocuses that somehow have emerged from the clearances of the 'old' front garden and leads me to wonder if those bulbs - that have been planted by previous owners since the house was built in the late 1930s - could be as old as the house themselves? Or near enough anyway? What is the lifespan of a crocus bulb? A lifetime or many lifetimes? And then of course what constitutes a normal lifetime (who or what is normal)? And then there are the snowdrops - swathes of pure white that defy February grey. One thing I've learned about snowdrops - when planting choose to split established clumps of bulbs as opposed to planting singular new bulbs. The new bulbs we planted to the front of the house are sadly less spectacular than those I saved when we cleared the front and subsequently moved to fruit alley down the back. I'm sure the 'new' bulbs will catch up but that might take a lifetime in itself...which bring us back to what constitutes a lifetime!

No rain, no rainbow ;)
On a practical front there has been (finally) some activity back in the vegetable patch. The areas sown with green manure (rye and vetch) last August have been dug over to give the plants time to break down and clear the way for the new bounty. Next job is to spread some manure and compost over to replenish the nutrients devoured by the last years' hungry crops. We are currently hot on the heels of the seed potatoes and the onion setts, but that's about it. This year Orla and Sarpo mira are the main focus - forget Setanta if you have any sort of slug issues - they will devour and destroy the soft flesh. There has been 'some talk' of extending the herb and rhubarb patch - given the voracity of the rhubarb growth last year - and maybe even a new patio to be installed for some late summer lounging-about. That is if the sun manages to break through the clouds again this year for more than a sunny afternoon. Who can say anymore? 

All we can do is take it as it comes and adapt. There is stability in chaos as science tells us - the degree of stability for each depending on our own ability to maintain balance in a changing world in a changing universe...

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