The winter in Europe this year has been extreme with temperatures as low as -20 degrees C in Northern Italy and the Danube freezing over. And after our short experience of snow last year, it is unimaginable what people must be going through trying to keep their homes warm. It makes me feel guilty for moaning about the winter mists here in West Cork.
The plants have loved the mild weather, all the delicate perennials have survived the winter and the grass hasn’t stopped growing, but by the first week of Feb I began to panic. They say that ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, its about learning to dance in the rain’, but you can’t garden in the rain you just get wet! The hedges needed trimming, lawns to cut, veg beds to dig, cottages to paint, the list went on and on and then on Sunday morning we woke to a cow mooing loudly in the field opposite our home, announcing the birth of a new baby calf. Standing on shaky legs with the mother cow washing its face, it looked stunned staring at two other new calves, just days older, but now strong and confident grazing the grass beside their mother. The sun was coming up it was going to be a good day. I’ve never mowed grass or cut hedges with such enthusiasm before, it felt like the first day of spring and it probably was. The tête à tête daffodils and grape hyacinths were unfolding in the borders along the drive, wild tulips pushing up their leaves, shaped like rabbits ears, in the wild flower meadow and even the birds seemed to be rejoicing. The dry weather continues and at last I’m ticking things off my list. It’s just in time too; Valentine’s Day is when I like to start sowing seeds.
We had another beautiful sunset last night and a night so clear, with a million stars like a star map from an astronomy book on the winter sky. I always look for Orion to find my way round the night sky and Orion’s nebula was clearly visible last night. Let’s hope the good weather continues. As the old weather folk law says ‘Red sky at night shepherd’s delight’ and it hasn’t let me down yet.