Thursday, 17 January 2008

Barleycorn In The Dead Of Winter

My previous post was the last I was able to squeeze in before the few remaining, hectic days leading up to Christmas.
I knew my time would be more than occupied in preparing bedrooms, writing menus for the holiday period and buying sufficient food to fill the fridge and freezer.
To be fair, judging by the quantity, anyone could be forgiven for thinking we were expecting to feed the Five Thousand.
All the while we looked forward in anticipation to our family coming home to stay over the festive season.
Whenever our family are here at Barleycorn, my whole world revolves around them.

Occasionally, I am able to snatch a few moments during the day to reply to emails or comments from friends on my website.

More often than not, however, the days are spent in a frenzy of restless creativity.
Each meal is prepared with loving kindness, for the time we spend around the family table, sharing all the latest developments in each of our children’s lives, is more precious to me than words can say.
Our house is surrounded by the garden, which greets each member with a different view as we draw open the curtains from our own individual bedroom windows each morning.
The changing mood of the garden over the festive days was a wonder to behold.

Camera at the ready, we walked around the garden, marvelling at the feeling of seclusion it afforded when it was encompassed one day by freezing fog.
For several days, temperatures below zero created a Winter wonderland of frost crystals on the bare bones of the garden.
Sleepy silhouettes of trees whose branches had been dark brown the previous day, became stiff overnight, as if standing to attention, transformed to a pristine white.
Glaucous blue needles on the cedar glittered and shone, as if Jack Frost had scattered a dusting of icing sugar, with a wave of his magic wand.
Otherwise watery ponds turned to ice - below which one could make out the leaves of waterlilies frozen in time for the duration of the cold spell - across which, much to our amusement, the cats enjoyed a spot of skating.
From the frosted window panes of the barn hung frosted strands of silk, highlighting the intricacies and skills of amazing spiders’ webs.
Outside the patio windows the bird table groaned with nuts and seeds, sultanas and raisins, crusty breads and dried cat food, so beloved by our two broods of blackbirds.
On days when the temperature rose and became milder we awoke to a fine scattering of snow, making pretty Christmas card scenes around the garden.

Depending on how cold the temperature and how heavy the hoar frost, the colour of the sky across the field adjacent to the back garden changed from cerulean blue to one sporting a shade of violet tinged with a band of pink.
Though I was busy reclaiming my role as Head Chef for the holiday period, from my vantage point in the kitchen, I can look out of the back door across to the barn and across the garden to the frozen pond and the field beyond.
Each day, the changing moods of the garden here at Barleycorn never failed to lift my spirits and feed my soul, so much so, that my joy was complete, both from within and without my home.
Click on each photo to enlarge...and feel the chill!

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