I am tired of (a) this weather (b) this flu. Due to a combination of the aforementioned I now have about a dozen plants that have been huddled on the sitting room floor at the cottage for the past four days, wondering what’s going on and if the Great Sun Eating Jackal that their mothers warned them about has come in this their generation and if so what are they supposed to do instead of photosynthesis? Hot cross buns? Ravioli? I am not going to bed any earlier* but I am getting up later, and when I finally get vertical enough to totter downstairs**, release hellhounds and peer at the thermometer it’s still only barely above freezing . . . and it never really gets above barely above freezing, and the longer my tender things in pots stay in a 60°F room the less likely they are to adapt readily to a sudden assault of 33°. One of the osteospermums is in fact flowering, the daft creature, although the flowers are not at all surprisingly small, it’s quite surprising enough that they’re flowers. Maybe it could pass the secret of hot cross buns on to the others.
Peter, who is recovering from the flu***, sort of half-drat him, I mean, it’s a good thing one of us is more or less functional but I ALWAYS get things worse†, has offered to go round to the ironmongers’ tomorrow and ask them about sunlight-spectrum lights for plants. I remember fifteen or so years ago when I wanted to set up a tiny greenhouse in one of the outbuildings in the old house it was like nobody had ever thought of such a thing before and trying to find suitable lighting for a non-commercial enterprise was very nearly impossible.†† Since then it’s become a commonplace, I think, but I don’t think it’s a commonplace to have a plant light strung up in your sitting room. If this particular curious local variety of global warming is the ice floe of the future however I really am going to have to rig up the summerhouse/shed at Third House by next winter. Meanwhile . . . I can’t face the extra effort of toting a lot of heavy plant pots outdoors for about half an hour and then toting them all back indoors again: carrying two full dog bowls††† at the same time two feet across the kitchen twice a day is enough. ‡
It could just warm up. But it’s not going to. Sigh. And you will have an ultimate new demonstration of CRANKY if I not only lose all the stuff that sat sunless on my sitting room floor for too many days AND the geraniums and dubiously tender clematis I’m still wrapping up every night from repeated bashing with Styrofoam and cardboard–or from more degrees of frost than Styrofoam and cardboard can handle–AND various perfectly hardy things in pots instead of the ground that couldn’t stand quite that much frost through the pots and which I hadn’t bothered to swathe in bubblewrap because we don’t get hard frost for more than a day or two and some years we don’t get that.‡‡ Gardening perhaps exists to make our domestic fauna seem less baffling and confounding–?
* * *
* The problem with the end of the day is that it’s the end. You absolutely don’t have to be thinking about the next thing, about what you should be doing, etc. And who doesn’t want to extend that lovely^ feeling for as long as possible? Say just another chapter? Maybe especially when you’re ill and have cancelled your life till further notice anyway?
^ If delusory. Morning is closer than you think. In fact morning probably happened a couple of hours ago.
** or, possibly, given these stairs, horizontal enough, backache being a prominent symptom
*** This is the full-body influenza experience too. I’m used to flu that, you know, specialises. If there were more actual fever involved I’d be making paranoid jokes about typhoid.
† And before anyone is so ill-advised as to suggest that if I calmed down a little perhaps I wouldn’t stress myself into collapse so often, Peter is possibly the only person on the planet who, when in a high tear, can make me look calm. So that fish won’t fly.^
†† It seemed logical at the time. We didn’t have a greenhouse and we did have all these outbuildings. But it was worth the struggle in the end not merely for getting the geraniums and chocolate cosmos through the winter–this was before I’d developed my osteospermum craze–and the seedlings started^, but for the sight of that bright unnerving light blasting through the cracks. Straight out of the X Files and in your own back garden.
^ This was also the era of my experimenting with growing roses from seed
††† And remember we’re talking about hellhounds. Who eat a scrap of chicken and then have to rest from the labour. ‘Full’ bowls are relative.
‡ Although the truly tiring bit is the drama following upon my putting the bowls on the floor and calling the hellhounds. Note ‘calling’. No of course they don’t boil out of the dog bed, ears and tails up and tongues lolling delightedly. Darkness usually comes with little worse than a world-weary sigh, but Chaos tends to crawl out on his belly, every line of his body saying, No! No! Not food!, and his eyes bottomless with anguish.
‡‡ Most years the evil weather fairies sate themselves with a perfectly calculated frost (1) to take out the magnolias (2) to take out the wisterias. I can’t remember if I had a frost problem with the magnolia last spring or not, I was busy wrapping it up against pigeons. And the new little wisteria at Third House probably won’t flower right away, although it’s one of these new cultivars that may flower as early as they get into the ground, so I figure it won’t try to flower unless there’s a frost due.
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