The hungry gap


Have you seen your first swallow yet? I know one swallow does not make a summer, but it does make the warmer weather seem nearer. There have been several reports of sightings in Shropshire this year, but I have not seen mine yet.

We always had swallows nesting in our old cow shed. There is a stable door – the type that splits in half. In April we leave the top part open for the swallows. Sadly, they have not nested there in the past few years. I still watch out for them, though, and love to see them chatting away on the overhead electricity wires.

Another sign that the weather is getting warmer, at our house, is when there are no more potatoes chitting under the bed. About half of them have been planted so far, but I can still see three egg trays full of sprouting tubers under the guest bed. It is a good job that no one is allowed to stay at present. They would not take kindly to such ugly things lurking under there.

Thinking of potatoes, we have run out of them, apart from the ones in the guest room. We must not eat these as they are for next year’s crop. In fact, we have run out of most of our vegetables and fruit. The stored apples in the garage loft are wrinkling (but still eatable if you do not look too closely). There are two parsnips left but no leeks. We have a bit of a ‘hungry gap’ on the produce front. There is always spinach, of course.

We have tried to live on our own produce throughout our year of shielding and even though lockdown is beginning to lift I do not yet feel safe to join the shopping queues. There are all sorts of things we are now able to do like getting a haircut and there will be lots of attractions outdoors, but I am still not sure and will be moving on only very slowly and carefully, like the spring.

Have you heard the birdsong at dusk? Last night, when it was almost too dark to see, I went outside and sat on our garden seat. There was the song of the robin, loud and clear, and the blackbird was singing from a high branch. His piping echoed into the darkness. Both birds have nests full of young, already.

More good news is that the milkman has delivered us a sack of potatoes from a local farm, the rhubarb is looking pink and delicious almost enough for a crumble, and our broccoli will be ready for eating by the end of next week.

(Taken from my Thursday's column in the Shropshire Star)



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