I’m cold the bone. This is my fourth Christmas in northern England, where I go part of the year to catch up on writing. And though the cottage is warm, when I go to the store or the pub I have to bundle up with scarf and gloves, not because it is horribly cold, but because it is dark, chilly, and misty-rainy, with no break in sight.
Why England? I’m not an Anglophile, not in love with Britain. I am pure Southern through and through, after over 350 years of my people living in the southeast part of North America (my original Rushen ancestor, a Manx soldier, was captured during the English Civil War who in 1651 was sent to Barbados, then the Carolinas, as an indentured slave).
I use this as a break from routine, away from my tiny (260-square foot) Fondren cabin, to write, and catch up on sorting photo files, and planning my coming year's lecture and travel schedule. It's quiet here in the winter.
And I do love the gardening ethic in the UK, where every homeowner seems to have a tidy little garden - typically a very small throw-rug lawn, neatly edged, and beds filled with a lush assortment of small flowering trees, evergreen and deciduous shrubs, vines, perennials, and a few annuals. And accessories, including seating, an arbor, a small greenhouse, and garden sculptures, mostly antique but occasionally home-made yard art.
Their climate is not a lot colder than ours, being surrounded by the warm Gulf Stream. It rarely freezes hard, but stays in the 30s, 40s, and 50s all winter. And damp. So a lot of “our” plants do perfectly well in the winter. But in the summer, it rarely gets into the 90s, usually hovering in the 70s, and it cools down at night, which is why they can grow fuchsias, lilacs, and all-summer pansies.
I will be home soon, back to a land of camellias and paperwhites, family, friends, and my brown dog Rusty. But meanwhile, I am preparing my notes for the Gestalt Gardener program, looking for a cheesy tune for the week, checking the weather “back home” and catching up on emails with friends who are keeping me in touch with what I would normally be experiencing myself.
Meanwhile, I will be home every Friday morning with y’all, chatting about stuff I really love, and being home again – at least in spirit.
Happy Holy Days to all!