Monday, January 27, 2014


Parasol mushrooms at Thetford

There have been some good storms. Some hail and bluster and whistling winds and the kind of rain that isn't called raindrops. But the weather has been pranksterishly mild. On the telly is America buried under a snowdrift, and out the window it is steely grey and seems to lick its frozen chops with relish but you get outside in your layers and your coat and your scarf and your serious Nanny Ogg socks and find that you are too hot. Everything in the garden should be frost-dead, but stands resolutely green if a little slug-munched. The marguerites under the front window are still flowering. 

It is soul-sappingly drab. My really warm hats are still in the drawer. No glittering snow, no breath curling Jack-Frost in the air, no perennials sleeping under the soil. No mood of crackling fires and hot drinks and curling up. Not a chance to stamp your feet and say brrrr. Unforgivably insipid. 

In September we were walking in Thetford forest, a gilt-resinous flood of Indian summer the brighter for being sure that any day now I'd be inside against the cold. Parasol mushrooms in astonishingly gluttonous, buttery-on-toast clusters. Small coppers, bright like bits of sky from somewhere less bleached and chalked. I lifted one on a blade of grass to my nose. Tiny furry alien face like something out of a comic. Yarrow flowers, bugloss. Slippery jacks, tiny pufballs puffing at the boot-edges. The golden, crumpling thaumaturgy of autumn, always and ever my favourite.  

But now from this chilly, dishwatery nothing I long for the simple, melodious magic of spring already, months away although heaven only knows what crazy-ass stuff this weather will bring. There are already bunches of British daffodils for sale in black buckets in Tesco, a burst of the sunshine that is not even nearly here wrapped up neatly in the papery green hat it wears until it opens. I'm sure that it has a name, the paper daffodil hat, tapering away like piped choux. 

Sometimes I feel like the names I know are the desperate handhold I have on a single glittering, slippery scale between the shoulderblades of a dragon twice the size of understanding. Don't let go. You will never see it again.


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