Tuesday, November 29, 2016

First frosts and fires


The first real frost we've had and quite a hard one, which doesn't leave the grass all day in places. The pastures look blue with it. Wrapped in Icelandic wool with leggings under jeans and fleece gloves under wool mittens, I'm happy now winter's properly here, and the late afternoon sun is glorious. It's the tipping time of autumn, I realise, that prompts seasonal malaise, that and lightless, cloudy and foggy days.

At the bio shop, along with spelt milk for Elfie (don't ask) we buy small, very purple, fresh figs, a few big Spanish chestnuts - in honour of first fires, I can't bring myself to buy many as to me they should simply be a seasonal free resource - and a big bunch of watercress, which will shortly mostly be soup.

There are fieldfares in larger and larger numbers in the countryside, and groups of noisy migrant blackbirds in the garden. I see a number of wrens flying low and urgently between hedges, and on the road outside Marcel's house a dead one, crushed but perfectly wren-shaped, its speckled markings and cocked tail clear and bright. No doubt it was fuddled with cold and hunger; we must start feeding the birds again now the cold weather's here, but there is little you can do for the ones that eat only insects.

Tom goes outside to break up some stuff, and snags the base of his thumb badly on a wayward screw, leaving a trail of blood spots into the house, where I find him at the sink and patch him up with my usual cartoon style, belt-and-braces first aid dressings. Nevertheless, when we come back from our evening walk, the fire is lit, Elfie's dinner is prepared and the windscreen of the car covered against ice so he can drive me into St Brieuc for a mammogram (just a regular screening check) tomorrow. He gets a glass of sloe gin for his pains.

Fire can be good.

4 comments:

Catalyst said...

That sounds like a wonderful day in Brittany, except for Tom getting screwed. ;^/

polish chick said...

it's true, it is the in-between season that is hard to stomach. stay warm, and tell tom to get a tetanus shot!

Roderick Robinson said...

The smaller the details get (wren, blood spots, sloe gin) the more three-dimensional the image of Breton life. I mean I'm sorry about Tom spilling blood but comfort him by saying he's helping to set the scene. What, after all, would Godot be without the fin de siecle furniture?

Avus said...

I love the processes of sloe gin: collecting the sloes (once a frost has been on them), making sure one has enough capped bottles (usually old Gordon's gin ones), bedding 'em down with gin and sugar to taste and then the long wait (smacked fingers if one touches a bottle too early) as it matures. Finally actually savouring the stuff. I had vanilla ice cream with a liberal dosing over it last night and can recommend it!

Winter ain't all bad, you know.

One should feed the birds in winter, but giving them blood (Tom's) is, I feel, going a bit far!