Sunday, June 12, 2011


My favourite moment in the liturgical year occurs today, with the list of people in Jerusalem who heard the apostles preaching each in their own native language: Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya around Cyrene…

The reader almost never gets it right (one syllable for “Medes”, three for “Cyrene”, and so forth), and often sounds as if he or she has never even seen the list until the moment it comes up on the lectern. I sit there and glower.

Here we are back.

The first sight of the garden is always a disappointment, this time of year. We arrived in the rain on Wednesday, and the experience was worse than usual. A frost – the night of May 30, I suspect – had touched the potatoes and runner beans (they’ll recover)

and carried off this year’s apple crop completely.

No lettuce at all (except the bought-in ones). Feeble germination from the courgettes. Rabbits (presumably) have wiped out a row of perpetual spinach – some years, they’ll leave that.

The man who is paid rather a lot these days to cut the grass had turned up, belatedly, in our absence and made a poor job of it, wide edges undone, lumps of rotting grass left hither and thither.

I felt much as I often feel in the face of the stash cupboard: this is too much. We can’t manage any more.

However, it’s wonderful what even the geriatric ward can accomplish in 48 hours. On Thursday afternoon, and gloriously all day Friday, the sun shone – and that does lift the spirits. I cut more long grass for my Stout-style mulching, concentrating on the places – where to begin? – where it most offended the eye. I sowed more lettuce – sometimes the slugs give up and sit back, around now.

And some things are doing fine: Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes and broad beans and two sorts of pea, my beloved bunching onions – I sowed some more this year, a red-bulbed sort, and they’re coming along nicely too. My baby artichokes are still there.

My poisioning of the verges of the driveway was a brilliant success:

Yesterday as we were leaving the grass-cutting man turned up again – there’s been lots of rain; it needed cutting again – so we were able to give specific instructions and we parted friends.

Alas, now we must stay here in Edinburgh for a whole fortnight and a bit, because of a series of ineluctable appointments spaced three days apart, a dentist here, an MOT test there, a session with a diabetic dietician.

I didn’t get much knitting done, but even so, the Araucania sweater is within a few rows of completion, so I brought it back. Assembly won’t take all that long – the neck and collar are complete. It’s just a matter of setting in the sleeves. That’ll have to wait until the Aran sweater is finished.


  1. On your poor apple trees ! There was a little snow on the Welsh hills yesterday ... such strange weather we're having this year.

  2. Phrygia always reminds me of a planet in Flash Gordon. Sorry for your losses. Our freakish weather is wreaking havoc here as well, but I did get my very first strawberry.

  3. Three cheers for sunshine! It is amazing how much power it has to lift our spirits. Not to mention it really helps when you need to do some gardening. I am sorry to hear your apple tree got hit by frost. Ours suffered the same fate this spring. Hopefully by the time you go back in a couple of weeks your replanted lettuce will be up, having been ignored by both slugs and rabbits.

  4. =Tamar10:54 PM

    The annual early-June heat wave here was close to two weeks earlier this year than last year, and the cool spell following it was very short.
    I'm told the weather people have decided to admit that the solstices and equinoxes no longer have much to do with when the actual seasons arrive. Here's hoping your mowing person retains the instructions. Mine seems to be giving up on more and more of the edge of the property.

  5. My father has asked me to tell you he sympathises madly. I am not sure what has gone wrong in our vegetable patch this morning - and I am not quite brave enough to ask!

  6. Anonymous8:05 AM

    I read that piece of Acts in church yesterday morning, at rather short notice, and it sounds as if I might have managed to read even to your satisfaction Jean. I really enjoy the feel of all those names as I pronounce them, they sound just so 'foreign', which I guess is the point.


  7. My salad leaves and brocolli were wiped out by an unknown predator at the weekend. All I have left in the veg garden are broad beans, potatoes and some anaemic-looking courgette plants. :(