Is it auspicious to begin a blog on one's birthday? In a way I'm celebrating not being 70 (yet!), because I'm uncertain how that will feel. At the same time I'm enjoying life more than ever and feeling younger than ever in all the ways that matter. Thanks, Angela! (The picture below is hers too, from a long time back.) Life is starting over, as an American would put it.
I find the first months of the year an exciting time. There is so much hope and rebirth in the air, starting right from Christmas. We forget that after midwinter the world around us is looking
forward, whether it's the badgers mating and gestating underground, or the catkins swelling on the hazels, or dog's mercury peeping up beneath the hedges. We poor humans, on the other hand, just get depressed and miserable, failing to see the signs of hope and promise and dwelling on the cold, the damp, the flooding rivers, all of which we turn into bad news, but which are all essential for the success of the year and the seasons ahead.
Last evening we walked up to the Plough in Finstock for a meal. It was so good. If only other locals would give their food the thought and care that Joe devotes to his cooking in Finstock. And Martin keeps great beer and wine. There was a group of folk musicians casually playing round a table in the back bar, while we tucked into succulently tender local lamb and a superb raspberry cheesecake. It helps that it is a small pub and the two owners are very hands-on, not paying other people to cook the food and provide the ambience, but doing it (and enjoying it) themselves.
On my way in to the shop this morning I found myself chatting to someone who had been pulling up the wild garlic in his garden, treating it as a weed. His neighbour, he told me, does the same. I begged him to save the next lot for me so I can plant it out at home, and extolled the virtues of the leaves (and flowers) in salads and chopped into stews, couscous, omelettes and so on. He was unimpressed.