Life goes on, at home and abroad

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After all our efforts to do some stocking up on logs and kindling last week, ain’t nature grand?

As if to tell us that we’d missed a bit, the high winds came and blustered through our garden (for garden, read ‘lots of trees with some grass’) scattering it with twigs a-plenty. Nature’s way of giving the trees a wee haircut, ready for the spring.

Last year we lost two trees, if you remember (or have had the patience – may your God bless you if so – to read this column for more than a couple of weeks) in the high winds. Well, we didn’t actually lose them, per se. Hard to lose something about 50 feet high.

Something that height usually makes its presence known, especially if it falls down.

This time of year is always quite frustrating. There’s nothing to sow, nothing to plant out, nothing to harvest. The beds look pretty sad, just the remnants of the raspberry and the strawberry plants, and bare earth.

I counteract the winter blues with ‘fantasy planting’.

I sit by the teeny weeny stove and look through my gardening books at the amazing things that can be raised from seed. I also (inadvisedly) browse those missives from Satan – the seed catalogues – where every plant is lush and shiny and bears record-breaking amounts of fruit, without a weary gardener or clod of mud in sight.

This is a gardener’s Utopia. It is a perfect world that only exists in seed catalogues, and kind of half-exists in gardening books.

At least you see mud and folk digging in it if you’re reading a gardening book.

In seed catalogues, there are no dying blooms, no leaves yellowing or potty from disease. Plant Paradise.

So, from this extensive period of browsing, lists are made and decisions about what we’ll go for in 2015 are made. You can bet it’s never everything on the list, due to preference (I hate parsnips, please don’t grow them!) and climate – we have to red-pen half the stuff because most authors are writing about their own experiences in their own gardens – in the home counties, not in Scotland.

Then it’s down to the garden centre for the seed packets, lovingly chosen (do we want variegated leaves?? That would be nice.

But are they as hardy? Or red beans, instead of the usual green? How many full-size plants for the beds, and how many container-sized plants for the tubs out the front?

Decisions, decisions.

And life goes on.

And this life seems a very, very long way from the events unfolding in the lives of Parisians last week. As I type, the Unity March has just started in Paris.

To see a gathering on this scale – around a million people – after the horrific attacks is just so life-affirming.

Ignorance and prejudice lead to conflict, so how amazing to see Netanyahu and Abbas walking at the head of the march with other European and world leaders. Unity indeed.

Nous sommes Charlie.