Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dead of Winter.

Winter: first we had weeks of rain, so that it was barely possible to venture out for walks.  Then it became strangely mild, but with waterlogging and quagmires everywhere.  Now, it is bitterly cold, with snow forecast for the next week.

I have been re-reading the Elizabeth Jane Howard quartet of novels on the Cazalet family, triggered by catching an extract from "The Light Years" read on Radio 4.  What a treasure these books are!  So many wise observations about the nuances of relationships - and such an enormous range of relationships covered.  Strangely, I remember some of the plot from my first reading, which must have been when they came out in the 90s, but I remember nothing of the tv series at all, yet I must have watched it.

Looking at online reviews of the tv series, it appears to have been a bit of a turkey, although  how it could be worse than the plotlines and characterisation of "Downton Abbey" I don't know.

Not much knitting going on, once I had completed two pairs of socks.  The yarn was not one I had used before, and I was struck by the lovely variations in the greener of the colourways, so much that I began a Multnomah scarf with it.  However, on longer rows the variatons became less interesting - less like landcapes - so I ravelled it out.  Designers of sock yarn must be thinking of a certain diameter.

Today, we wrapped up warm and took a turn about the arboretum just north of here.  We had heard that there were siskins to be seen near the Honywood Oak, an 800 year old tree in the park.  We did not see them.  Instead, we were pleased to see a heron in flight over the lake.

Last week, when we walked around the perimeter, we had caught a whiff of a really cloying scent.  At a different time of year this could have been beans, or rape.  But we could see no sign of anything in flower.  Seeeing a minibus of infants from the Montessori nursery, we concluded that it must have been the perfume of one of the staff. 

Today, however, we were walking up the side of the lake, planted with the deep red stems of dogwood and the slender white trunks of Betula utilis, when we came across the source of the heavy scent.  Groups of shrubs were in full yellow bloom, a real treat on a day too grey to prompt us to bring cameras.  It was Chinese Witch hazel.  I hope it survives the snow.


1 comment:

Jean said...

Witch hazel is tough -- it will be all right. It always seems to come as the most delightful surprise, in January.
I don't know the Elizabeth Jane Howard books you mention -- I'm off to start reading today.