Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day (cleanskies) wrote,
Jeremy Dennis is Jeremy Day

winter care packages

Dark and cold, cold and dark. Hello, winter! I need something to keep me going through the cold and the dark and the grim. I'm sleeping well and having good dreams (going to Amsterdam and riding around on an antique aqueduct/flume, exploring old houses, some entertaining ones where friends have been present but with their characteristics/appearances/sexes all jumbled up) but the truest tragedy of winter is that I cannot sleep all day, like a stinky polar bear, but must instead address the day, its work, its woes. This requires (in my mind) much compensation for the inconveniences suffered. On the grounds that the memory of compensation is a fine reinforcer of the prize, here is my list of current favourite winter care packages:

Seeds: Saving them (I have a bunch drying from a Crown Prince squash), collecting them (anyone want any wallflower/poppy/sunflower seeds?) and planting them (sweet peas can go into seed trays all winter). Also, ordering them off the internet. My Christmas order from the Real Seed Catalogue just turned up although I didn't get Achocha this time as -- ta-da! I collected my own. The Real Seeders would be proud.

Soup: Making soup is one of the great pleasures of winter. I did ham hock broth for the first time last night (fry up some shredded winter veg with some suitable herbs and spices, add shredded ham hock, cover with stock and simmer, adjust seasoning and toss in a bit of edible green leaf, serve) and I'm quite pleased with the results although I think some finely sliced, lightly-cooked potato in it would improve, along with some other adjustments. Soup is the classic fiddler recipe; you can just keep on tweaking until it suits you exactly.

Slippers, socks and fleecy boots: Changing into slopping-around clothes at the end of the day is sometimes necessary (thanks to autumn sheeting rain) but always desirable. It marks off the outside time of the day and says; from now on, it's the cave. Especially the cosy foot coverings, especially if they're not suitable for outside use. Not that they really stop you from taking the compost/rubbish/dead mouse out if you have to, but they make it clear that you're not planning for that. You're planning on staying in and being warm.

Lights: Sorry, the electricity bill. At this time of year, I want the light. Specifically my OTT light, all available fairy lights, the cool white LED spotlights in my studio and my Sun tube (a full-length Neon tube enclosed in a bright yellow plastic safety enclosure of some sort which I can just plug in and light pretty much wherever). Enough lights on, and you can have a light bath, perfect for dark months, speaking of which...

Hot water: Baths, showers (and also Bath, doubtless - I bet the roof pool is nice at the moment). Nothing warms me right through as well as a long soak or shower in hot water or steam. There's something wonderful about wet heat at a time of year when most water is bitterly cold and to be avoided. Which reminds me:

The tow-path: Apart from the obvious benefits (the exercise, the exposure to light, trees and birds) the truly lovely thing about the tow-path in the winter is observing the colour on the water. The low light, mist and clouds combine with the wither and fall of the vegetation to dim and soften the edges of the ripples and reflections, and the colours become muted and pearled into the understated lustre of semi-precious stones. On mornings when the temperature and humidity hit the right point, tiny coils of mist boil up off the surface, catching the morning light and veiling the ducks, canoeists and occasional float, bike or shopping trolley.

Cats: Winter makes the jungle gym of the trees outside and sulking for hours in the shed a much less tempting proposition, as well as adding "heat source" to their list of human virtues (alongside "food provider" and "ribbon twitcher"). It also makes them more inclined to socialise with each other (and when I say socialise, I mean that they both want the warmest spot in the house pls). The accompanying social tension this creates creates a packed evening of kitten wrestling, stair-tumbling, squabbles over boxes, radiators and particular places on the bed, and pursuit of the elusive human lap. Tragically their all-consuming jealousy of each other means that although there are two laps and two cats, they cannot simultaneously enjoy them, at least not until the temperature drops another degree or so.

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