Sunday, January 10, 2010

Stores: more snowbound musings.

Snooker on the box, a blanket and a warm spaniel, and sunglasses, yes really, against the snowglare coming through the windows, what more could a man want?

We are remarkably lucky in all this, and doing rather well.  Power, phone lines, internet connection and personal and canine health are still holding out - touchwood - and by miraculous good fortune, we seem to have all we need.  I am waiting to stumble upon the intolerable oversight, the one thing we don't have in the house that we can't do without, but so far, fingers crossed, everything has come up trumps; we have reasonable stocks of dog food, tea, coffee, sugar, flour, butter, loo paper, toothpaste, onions, carrots, tinned fish, bread in the freezer, a sack of potatoes in the hall,  as well as quantities of post-Christmas goodies to get through.  Milk - we only use skimmed UHT which we keep stocked anyway - is the only thing we're having to eke out a bit, but when that goes in a few days, if we still can't get out, tea without milk is not unthinkable, we have Darjeeling and white tea and other fancy stuff (strings and ceiling wax are probably to be found in the cupboards somewhere also...).

I don't know how this has happened; I'm never usually so organised or well-supplied, I tend to have over-abundance of some things and be down to the last parings of something else more important.  Now, having to fall back on the lingering contents of the store cupboards, I am finding those kind of things that you buy on a whim, perhaps because they are unusual and/or going cheap, then don't use, because they're a bit special or you can't quite decide what to do with them, or you just forget you have them. I reached into the back of the cupboard this lunchtime, and found a jar of dear little mixed forest mushrooms in preserved in oil.  They made me think of that bit in 'War and Peace' where the Rostovs go galloping off on a snowy hunting trip and meet up with Uncle, who takes them back to his house in the backwoods, where he lives with his housekeeper who's really his wife, and Natasha dances to the balalaika, and they live again in the real Old Russia.  Why did they remind me of that...?  Oh yes, Uncle gives them pickled mushrooms from his larder and several different kinds of vodka.  I think these probably came from Lidl and I sautéd them (dreadful Franglais double past participle) with brown rice, shallots, pimento peppers also from a jar, and frozen peas.  The War and Peace flashback was a piquant bonus.

(I sometimes wonder if there'd be an interesting project in separating the Peace bits from the War bits in 'War and Peace', so love interest and pickled mushrooms could be read in a different volume from battlefields and Napoleonic politics.  I'm sure more people would read it, you could give them pink and blue bindings... ).

So with time on our hands and the need to use stores imaginatively, we are really eating and drinking rather well.  Sunday's lunchtime 'sherry' becomes an everyday event, and while milk is rationed, there are still a couple of small cartons of pouring cream leftover from Christmas, which I can put up with in coffee... The main problem is, if the snow-in continues much longer, we'll get enormously fat. 

We try to go for walks every day to offset the serendipitous gluttony.  Yesterday, Saturday, we couldn't because there was a blizzard.  On Friday, Jean-Charles Gibet the butcher, known to ourselves as Charlie Giblet, was to be seen dispensing viandes to our neighbours.

He has an impressive set of chains on his wheels, which I would have liked to take a 'gear and tackle' type photo of, but on our approach we had to embark on a round of greeting and wishing of a good-New-Year-and-good-health-above-all, so I missed my opportunity. 

A few people, with and without chained wheels, are cautiously driving about.  Seeing them makes Tom restless 'They're getting about...' he frets.  I have so far convinced him that affronted pride is not enough reason to risk himself or the car, that we are fine here, that there is really no justification for going anywhere other than on foot.  The roads are patchy and untreated, save where a tractor with a shovel has scraped them in places; conditions aren't really safe yet.  D and J made a foray the other day from Henon, a bigger village with gritted roads, lower than us and nearer the coast, intending to go to Lamballe, but even in their ancient but very sturdy Subaru estate with 4-wheel drive, found the going too treacherous, and stopped closer to hand, (where they procured some milk for us, but then neither they nor we want to risk venturing through the back hills to hand it over).

But I'm afflicted with the same two-mindedness, as next week and my own commitments, some of them already postponed, approach.  Neither I nor my car are well-suited to difficult driving conditions, especially with dark early starts, and I'm not convinced that anything I have to do is important enough to take the risk, and certainly won't earn enough to pay a car repair bill, but I also can't help the feeling that I'm being a shiftless wimp.  From that point of view, this is becoming slightly less fun.

Nevertheless, I'm appreciative: that I'm warm and healthy,


that thanks to Tom wrestling over the years with enormous quantities of glass wool and polystyrene, we probably have the best insulated roof in the village,

that I'm still finding it all very pretty,

that the Christmas cactus continues to flower, and that I've got so much stored up stuff to live on, in the cupboards and in my head, and I don't mind falling back on it.  I'll sort the rest out as it comes.


Zhoen said...

Sounds like heaven to me, snugged in and with nothing so pressing it can't wait until the thaw.

Good for you about the roof, makes quite a difference.

Catalyst said...

Reminded me of snowed-in days of my childhood in North Dakota only about 50 miles south of Canada.

julie said...

Love the imagery, Lucy - verbal and visual. It almost makes me miss the snow.

herhimnbryn said...

Grand post Lucy. Store cupboards, snow and War and Peace. You always take me on such interesting journeys.

We too have huge amounts of roof insulation, but to protect us from the heat of summer. It has alos reduced our power bills!

PurestGreen said...

How fantastic that Sunday sherry has become an everyday event, as least for a little while. And the mushrooms sound delicious. Today I used up all the apples that were kicking around my fridge looking a little sad, and I made the most wonderful apple crumble using bits and pieces like the last of the oats and walnuts and pieces of dried apricot. Good times.

Things seem to be thawing out here - I hope it's brightening up for you as well. I think we will all appreciate the spring that much more this year.

Fire Bird said...

Don't worry - be happy! Breaks to routine have to be good. And things that make us view the world differently... and rummage in our cupboards (real and metaphorical...)

Roderick Robinson said...

Chains are the answer, providing someone else puts them on. Good to have the right set anyway for a real emergency.

But don't forget Thurber's "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (ie, not the film) where, in a vain attempt to be macho, Mitty attaches chains incompletely, they come loose and wrap themselves round the half-shafts. That's bad enough; even worse is having to endure the sneer of the lad from the garage called in to rectify all this.

Nimble said...

How wonderful to find yourself with adequate stores plus the 'for a rainy day' treats. I agree that you should put things off and wait for the roads to be better even if it's hard to wait.

I enjoy your wordsmithing, for example your use of 'the last parings'. The W&P suggestion is intriguing. Would you ever read the war volume again? I don't think I would.

Hope your stores of ceiling wax (or sealing wax) are holding out...

Lucy said...

Thanks people. With a rise in temperature and rain, it is thawing now, but the small roads are still so thickly iced we haven't risked them yet, a day or so more should do it.

Tom tells me that there was a reaction against chains on wheels, that they were considered to be for wimps, then for a while we didn't get the winters that needed them. The commercial vehicles don't hesitate to use them though.

Nimble - that's funny about ceiling/sealing wax. Though I do really know it is 'sealing', when I was a child and heard the words in the song, I didn't know what they meant, and thought it was something to do with ceilings. The error has by now lodged firmly in my head and I would probably make the same mistake again... ;~)

No, I wouldn't read the War volume again, but might well read the Peace one! I wonder what their comparitive lengths would be...

Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

I too have had to learn how to keep a well-stocked larder in order to survive the snow now we live at the end of a lane (it stops at us) and a steep drive that between them have the capacity to cut us off in bad weather. This, our third winter here, has been the fiercest so far in terms of the weather cutting us off, though we could walk through the woods to the nearest shop a couple of miles away if we had to, so this pioneering sensation is only really a game of 'let's pretend'. However when the snow is really thick and bundles us up, it feels quite isolated.

Loved your account of being snowed in Lucy. I shall return to read more.

Lucy said...

Lovely to see you here, Clive!