It seems that every time I go away somewhere far far away, something from the 'disaster realm' comes to visit my home. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a bit of travel. But more often than not, something shit is waiting for me on my return. There's not much I can do about it. The older and greyer I get, the more I learn to simply accept this reality as some sort of fate driven trickery. A few days into my trip to talk at the Do Lectures in Wales we got a call from home. Initially it was reported that some sort of 'weasel' had attacked and killed a bunch of our chickens. We don't have weasels in Australia, so I asked for a photo. Thats when we discovered that a ferret had got into the chook pen and done the killing. Where the ferret came from, I have no idea. It's probably some kids hunting ferret that's cunningly escaped from its cage, and ended up feeding on our chickens. What ever the case may be, we're short most of our laying hens. There is nothing I can do about it now. The ferret was caught and disposed of. Now I have the task of locating some new productive hens.
The second piece of poo was brought to us with 100km hour winds that rushed up the valley to our hill. Last evening that wind roared with fierce menace, with destructive power so wicked that it flattened the north side of my poly tunnel. The entire structure has now been compromised, and will have to be pulled down and rebuilt. I obviously won't rebuild using the same materials, but I will have to build with steel. It's just far too windy at this property to use PVC conduit for the frame. Again it sucks. I invested that combination of time, money and effort into that build. It's just one of those things you can't do much about. Like my mate said, "pick yourself up, take a deep breath, dust yourself off and start all over again".
I appreciated the advice but I hadn't actually fallen over, and there isn't much of a chance of being dusty this time of year, it's winter. It's wet, muddy, windy and bloody freezing. There was a day last week where we didn't even see sunlight at all. Just cloud. And grey.
It's the time of year when the house fire is lit every day. Without fail. It's the time of year when I appreciate the days of work I put into building my cache of fire wood. And it's the time of year that I look at my wood pile and wonder if I cut enough wood.
It's the time of year when wool lined rubber boots are an everyday item. It's the time of year when a good pair of warm wool socks is worth more than the muddy boots themselves.
It's the time of year when carrots, celery and onions seem to get chopped every few days for stews, casseroles and soups. It's the time of year I wonder if I planted enough carrots, onions and celery.
It's the time of year when I find myself soaking beans overnight, to use in my chilli bean stew. It's the time of year when I shell the last of the dried beans and pop them in jars for temporary storage until they're eventually needed for a hearty bean brew. It's the time of year I ask myself if I planted enough beans last summer.
It's the time of year when I look the bleakness of winter dead in the eye and say 'fuck you'. It's when I cook with food I've grown back in spring or summer and eat like it's still sunny outside. Like this mug of mushy broad bean, with mint lemon and goats cheese. It tasted like spring. And if I got close enough to the fire place and closed my eyes, I could almost imagine that it was a warm day with the sun warming my body.
Even though it can be emotionally, physically and mentally challenging, I do love winter. It's the season that bests suites me. It's challenging, difficult and miserable. We seem to have a lot in common.