Hard to believe that we are already getting close to the middle of February. Winter is giving way slowly to early spring, though today you would not think so. We are experiencing a bitterly cold wind from the East and lower temperatures than is normal for this part of the country, which usually has mild winters.
But while the cold spell lasts there is plenty of planning and creativity going on inside. I made a true to scale plan of the garden so as to have a good oversight of it (and for the fun of it too). And I tested the soil on all of the 12 raised beds and found that they are poor, some beds depleted even in Phosphorus, and Nitrogen, but did a little better on Potash. So now I know what to add and where. I’m also cutting out snippets from gardening magazines that apply to our garden in particular. I do have some good gardening books but I find this somehow more personalised as I only keep what applies to my experience here.
Here in the small market town of Skibbereen a spice and exotic vegetable shop has opened and it did not take me long to go and check out the vegetables with which I learnt to cook in both S.India and in Mauritius. The delicious meals made thereof and the pleasure of the memories got me to buy quite a selection and for a whole week those dishes were on the menu. Among them okra and bitter gourd would have been most know to me, also the chayote squash. Some of the vegetables did not make it into the cooking pan as I want to root them and I was lucky enough to see a shoot coming out of both the taro root and the chayote squash, this is an experiment. Once before I grew a large plant from a taro root but it died when I went travelling.
And then there is the garden! Well we have had so much rain now for many weeks that the garden is saturated and I am hoping that this present wind will dry the things out a bit. The garden looks forlorn at the moment and I am not doing much in it until the weather turns. I have lots of spring bulbs coming on though and they are a pleasure to see. (in my home-made small greenhouses to protect from heavy rains). There are still quite some vegetables ready for use, the cut and come back Kale and the leeks among them.
And to finish off a picture of how cosy it is inside while out there the icy wind rages, throwing lashes of hail and sleet against the window panes. The wood burner keeps us nice and warm.
I’m finding that although we are quite isolated here and especially so with the current lockdown, I am making very many interesting contacts online, being invited to interesting social media groups on culture and art and on growing in calmness, quietness and reflection. Some of these groups are in my mother tongue (Flemish) and I enjoy that very much. Making new friends and maintaining existing connections with old friends. I was also invited to become part of a meditation group. It all goes to make this lockdown time quite interesting and a place of growth for me.
I hope that all your activities and experiences are keeping you inspired too.
Today, while waiting for Ian to finish some stuff he was doing in his boat, I noticed a butterfly caught behind the glass of the cabin, fluttering fiercely was one of our most beautiful butterflies, the Peacock. It caught my attention. Gosh it was beautiful to get such a close up of this wonderful creature, I watched it for a long while but became worried that it could damage it’s wings even further than it had already done. After some time it settled down, I was able to gently pick it up and decided to free it into the lush fields beyond the boat yard. But how to get down the ladder with a butterfly in your hand? I decided to put it on my jumper and to my amazement it stayed there, even climbing a bit higher to just under my chin. I climbed down carefully, and it then flew off and onto some gravel which is where I made some photos with my phone (good old phone!) It then flew off further afield, I hope happy to be discovering the wider world.
These butterflies hibernate during the autumn/winter months, usually in woods, sheds or hollow trees. You often see these Peacock butterflies on the Buddleia shrub, I once counted many, over twenty on our bush. Their larvae are black and often found on Nettles. I am guessing that the specimen found on the boat was just out of hibernation, and I wonder if it will last another summer.
I got some of my information about the Peacock from the book ‘Discovering Irish Butterflies and their habitats’ by J.M.Harding.