You know this sort of day. The sky remains grey so that you are not certain there is any real daylight. It has been raining on and off for days and more rain is due in a few hours. Time to garden is short and the ground underfoot is muddy.
I am never totally sure whether it is the rain getting me down or the grey. I know we need the rain and so often I am desperate for rain in the growing months. Now I turn my mind to it I think it is the grey, the lack of light, the lack of sun. I know that the days get shorter every year and I have lived through so many (many) winters now I really ought to be getting used to it. In reality I think it is the reverse, every year I dislike the dark more and more. Even in these covid days where I have now spent two winters working far more from home than at any other time, I am struggling with the lack of light and the lessening of opportunities to get outside into the garden.
When I do get out into the garden there is the squelch. That moment of putting the foot down and the rain oozing back upwards over the lip of my shoe. I have written previously that most of my garden is thick heavy clay so it soon gets claggy and muddy.
There is the scent of slug and of damp wood - that rotting, decaying smell that is not as unpleasant as I think it should be. I wander around the garden wondering what to do today. Everything is so sodden that weeding is difficult. Gardening on clay soil has benefits and challenges. Benefits are that it does not dry out quickly, challenges are that when it does it does it sets like stone and cracks. It can be really difficult to weed when you cannot break the ground. Challenges are also that it does not dry out quickly, so it does get sodden and waterlogged and on some very rainy occasions, the rain does not drain away and will puddle.
My challenge is that I want to be out in the garden, I want to be doing 'something'. I wander the garden, thinking about what needs doing and cannot be done, thinking about what I will be wanting to do when the season turns. All of these thoughts keep me company as I wander. I open my mind to the garden, I am conversing with it and listening to it and then, then the garden does what it does. It tells me what I need to do today.
My wanderings have now taken me into the front garden, tutting as I often do in the front garden as it is generally a cause of dissatisfaction and tutting. Suddenly I see a cyclamen coum leaf peeping out from under a fallen magnolia leaf. Magnolia leaves are large, leathery and thick. They are part of the glory of the magnolia tree but when they fall they carpet thickly and rot slowly probably due to the waxy coating they have. They are too big for a worm to drag into the ground, they just lie there. Every year I had to collect them and transfer them to the compost heap and every year I enjoy seeing what is uncovered. This year I moved the leaves earlier than usual, giving the plants underneath more time to develop properly and enjoy what little of the winter daylight there is. The garden gave me the prompt I needed to do this task in a more timely manner. I am always grateful to the garden, for the support it gives me to get me through every day and for the guidance and nudges it sends me. I return indoors as the rain starts and make a mug of tea satisfied that the day has contained at least some garden time.