Frost and a lone toadstool in a bunch of weeds.

The other day it was -5 degrees and very frosty at 8am when I left for work. It was 0 degrees at work for most of the day, although it did get to 2 at lunch time. When I left for work, a little later than usual at 5pm, the fog (which had barely lifted all day) was so thick that visibility was terrible and it took me longer than usual to make the drive home. It was -2 when I got home after 5:30, and it was already frosty; although I think the frost had really never melted throughout the day.

Such is winter.

At present we are having a particularly cold snap. Even our warm warm warm home feels cold once the sun stops hitting all those north facing windows we have. Mornings have been really frosty. The ground crunches underfoot and everything appears white. Matthew had something to say about the frost:

“Jack Frost is very nice but I don’t think he realises how cold the frost is.”

Frost and a scotch thistle.

Despite the cold, I love to be outside. The air is crisp and fresh. I like to sit in the sun, if its shining, and imagine the garden in the glory of spring, when things are growing and flourishing. Right now, everything is bare. I like to go and do a little spot of weeding, or picking some lavender to bring inside to create pretty smells in the house.

Sometimes it is like pulling hens’ teeth to get the children to go outside though. I pretty much force their coats and boots on and shove them out of the door with a stern “we are going outside to have fun” threat. They might marvel at the frozen trampoline or the sloshy ground or the icy grass and bare vegetable gardens, but in the end they too are thankful for the fresh air.

Laurustinus is one of my favourite plants. As a child I called it cauliflower tree. Our Laurustinus plants are getting a fresh dose of mulch.

Winter is a good time to get the garden ready for spring. I live in hope for spring. I am counting down the weeks! I long for longer and warmer days, and the darling buds of spring. I cannot wait to see the blossoms on the fruit trees and the new shoots on the herbs in the garden, like the chives that form the border of our garden out the front. In the meantime, we are preparing things, like adding mulch to the front garden beds. We want to add more topsoil to the front and back yards so we can sow some new grass. We need an excavator to come in to move some soil and things in the back yard. There is plenty to do to keep us busy in the garden before spring graces us.

I can see new buds forming on our mulberry tree and it brings me hope that Spring is not too far away.

I look for growth in the garden. Some of our bulbs are shooting, like the daffodils and irises and freesias. The rhododendron will start flowering soon, with its bright red flowers welcoming us.

Elora planting broad beans.

And there have been things to plant too. Elora loves going out to the garden, especially if she has jobs to do, like planting garlic and broad beans! She knows a lot about the process of planting and she is a great help in the garden. I love watching her tiny hands make a hole in the earth for the seed, plop the seed in and cover it, letting her hands get all dirty. It’s such a great experience for the little ones. Wonderful fine motor and hand-eye coordination practice, and wonderful for them to learn where their food comes from.

Rich earth in a garden bed

I sometimes like to rummage through the garden beds for little weeds and imperfections, which I inelegantly chuck onto a pile near the back fence (later to be converted to weed tea). The other day, as I was preparing the beds for planting the broad beans, I admired the richness of the soil there, thinking back to how it has been treated over the past few years, with fertilisers like blood and bone, and silage, and potash and the floors of the chookyard, with its chicken manure and decomposed vegetable scraps. I hope that the beans, several rows of which will be planted every three weeks over winter, will grow tall and lush in this soil.

So, I need to remember that when winter is making me feel stifled by the indoors, a few moments outdoors, in the fresh, brisk air makes me feel so much better, and happier. But, again, I am longing for spring.