Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wonderful day, yesterday. It was breathtaking to see what five days can mean, in May. Seeds have come up, and potatoes have appeared – I was beginning to wonder where they were – and apple blossom. Little plants nurtured on the Edinburgh windowsill have visibly prospered, some more than others. The weeds have gone into high gear.

Actually, I thought the apple tree would have been wiser to wait. The other one is hanging back, prudently. The weather man said on the radio just now that there was frost in the glens last night.

So I watered and weeded and even thinned some things which had come up quickly and thickly. And could have stayed forever.

Why is it such a joy? Like knitting, vegetable growing (at least the way I do it) is a frugal-seeming occupation which in fact represents a net expense. That is, I doubt if we get enough to eat to cover the outlay. So it’s not that. Flavour, yes, very nice, sorrel soup and forced rhubarb and freshly-dug potatoes and lovely broad beans, and peas and spinach in the years when we get it right. Those two depend on the man-from-del-Monte moment, and we’re not always there for it.

But I don’t think it’s that, either, any more than one knits for the sake of something to wear. It’s the quality of the happiness, and for whatever reason, it’s better than growing mere flowers.

For peas, this year (as well as mange tout) I’m growing something called the Victorian Colossal Climbing Pea. The nurseryman’s instructions (scroll down) are to build a tepee for it, as one does for climbing beans. Does that imply that this pea climbs like a bean, by twining? and not like a pea, which clings with little tendrils? I await the result with more than ordinary interest.

I have built a tepee, as instructed. The peas have germinated, perhaps even 100%, and look very cheerful. I figure that if they decline to twine (as I expect they will) I can tie string around the tepee at various levels, and they can hold on to that.

As for knitting, I should finish the Chevron Scarf this evening, and perhaps even get it blocked tomorrow. I’ve lost oomph, for the moment, and am not sure that the projects I have in mind (preemie jacket, KF jacket) are likely to restore it.


Kristen, I keep thinking about what you said about “Let the Right One In”. I wonder if I missed something, at the end. Why was she there, at the swimming pool? Did they plan it? They must have. Is that what you mean?

Tamar, the heavy package from John Lewis wasn’t knitting wool! Honest! It was connected with this weekend’s projected visit to Argyll, during which should also be revealed a mystery knitting project from some weeks ago. Pics next week, with luck.

Here are some for now, knit-free. Nephew Theo and his new wife Jenni were in Beijing recently, accompanying the Treasury Secretary. Jenni is an important member of his team. Here is a picture of a serious-looking conference. James Miles of the Economist is the man with his hand over his mouth. I’m afraid I don’t know which one is Timothy Geithner. That’s Jenni, upper left.

Here are Theo and Jenni and James and his family after what looks like a well-enjoyed dinner. James and Theo in front, with James's daughter Kirsty. The back row is Rachel-the-Younger, James' wife Cathy, Jenni, and Alistair, who's getting tall.


  1. I believe that Timothy Geithner is the fellow on the end.

  2. Oh, how right you are about the joy of growing crops - and equally, the frustration when germination fails. I think it is something elemental, to do with the turning of the seasons and the earth's capacity for renewal. I also enjoy the storing of produce against the winter; rhubarb frozen down for crumbles later in the year.