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In like a Lion, out like a Lamb?



Ben

Well, it’s certainly a freezing start to March. I’m in London and as I’m writing, a snowstorm is threatening to blow in; and I’ve got to admit, without trying to sound smug, which is close to impossible on this blog from day to day and week to week, but never more so than right now: I’m rather glad to be leaving town for the Bahamas for a week. There, thanks, I got that one out quickly.

I popped down to Dorset yesterday after a meeting with my clients near Salisbury, where we’ve been making exciting repairs and alterations to a fine old listed building. It’s such a pleasure to see that old house breathing again, and settling into its new clothes which (even though I say so myself) look as if they’ve always been there. That one is such a happy job.

It was a beautiful drive from Salisbury, as cold clouds rolled across the plain. The Bride valley was magical in a soft grey sea-mist.

I planted my first early potatoes, and took a few photographs of the house and garden, for those readers (or commentators, I should say) who have clearly been missing a dose of Dorset; and I just took it all in, and enjoyed  the quiet muted palette of green and grey and earth brown.

 

Will you check out that compost? There is something incredible in the alchemy of time turning your old vegetables and peelings into dark nutritious soil, and I can’t exactly place why I find it quite so satisfying. But I do. More than anything.  The pile on the right is slowly cooking now.

Spring in the garden seems poised… waiting for warmer weather, holding her breath. It’s remarkable how within a matter of weeks the mornings and the evenings are light again; how the darkness of winter mornings steadily retreats without you even noticing.  As Luke in the office is inclined to comment just about now, the evenings will be drawing in soon.

Cold flurries of sleet and rain suddenly swept across the valley and I retreated indoors. But no sooner had the storm arrived, than it passed, and the landscape sparkled in brilliant warm sunshine.

Steam rose off thatched roofs, and the transformation was extraordinary.

I distinctly remember as a child being fascinated by the way water droplets were held in the leaves of lupins, and nasturtiums.  I was probably about 5 or 6 when I thought I had discovered diamonds in the garden. Intense excitement gave way to equally intense disappointment, which is maybe why I’ve never forgotten.

A crazy out of season calendula.

I had a surprise call from my friends the Hursts. Call in and see Edward’s stand at BADA next week, if you’re in London. It is bound to be amazing, although I confess I’d rather be on the beach.

Anyway, I made Edward and Jane make the tea, while I finished planting more broad bean seeds.  After all, I’m not back for a couple of weeks and I knew that things couldn’t wait that long.

As we walked around the garden, drinking in the beauty of afternoon, and swapping tales of this and that, an extraordinary soft light filled the valley, and the house and landscape glowed. From time to time, I wonder what on earth I’m doing, with my lease on this old house and pouring my heart into it, and into the garden. Then, at moments like this, it’s all pretty clear.

But it was a fragmentary hint of spring. The sun set, and a grey mist blew in once more. Within minutes the evening had returned to chill winter.  I had a gently alcoholic evening with my neighbour round for supper, chatting and putting the world to rights. The perfect response to a bitterly cold night.

This morning, snow flurries blew about the house and garden all day, and the temperature had plummeted. The day had given a briefest suggestion of things to come, but for now: March is here like a Lion. Is it too much to hope that by the time I’m home, it will be gone, like a Lamb?

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