A vicious nor’easter is howling through the house and snow has been blowing horizonally past the front window all day. The green shoots and yellow flowers of spring are lost to sight. The White Company has painted the world.
But for the weather, the allotment would have been calling. Some early work has already been accomplished: the tumbledown shed has been patched up and Creosoted; the rhubarb has been freed from its tangled web of couch grass. The potatoes are chitting on the windowsill, and leeks and sweet peas are in the propagator.
But much remains to be done, and at least a week will have been lost by the time the cold snap eases. The ground will be cold for planting too, with night-time temperatures plunging several degrees below zero. Finding some giant plastic sheets to warm the ground will be a good idea.
The plum blossom had just burst too, so this year’s harvest may already have been compromised. No jam tomorrow.
But as always, weird weather brings benefits too. A hectic weekend has given way to a day of enforced rest. The late burst of winter has brought hungry birds back into the garden too: a chaffinch tucking into seeds on the patio table; mob-handed starlings driving dainty bluetits from the fatballs; a robin trying to balance on the feeders; blackbirds hanging out gloomily near the house, forced to think about food when their minds had been on other matters.
And not just the blackbirds: we’d all allowed our thoughts to turn to spring, led astray by last week’s burst of warmth.
The Met Office is now musing about a possible colder-than-average run right into April. As my mum has been pointing out for years, in the face of snow-strewn Christmas cards and popular psychology, Easter is often colder than Christmas. This year, she may well be right again.