1. To wake up and find that after all that noise, there is no storm damage to the garden. Or rather, the only damage is both minor and desirable.
2. We drive out to see our chicken man. The views are different but as equally as stunning as they were on the balmy June evening of our last visit. He, and his lovely old dog, take us around the different sheds and we pick four girls to bring home – two pure breeds and two black rocks. He catches them with a strong fisherman’s net: “the best thing I ever bought”, he tells us.
3. A well timed cup of sweet tea.
1. Joe watches me via the mirror and when Katherine comes back into the room with the curtain hooks, he shuffles around so we’re both in the frame.
2. The new greenhouse glass is so clear, completely unmarked, that it looks hyperreal. I’m reminded of the glass church in Oscar and Lucinda: my cathedral to homegrown veg.
3. We watch vintage Simpsons from its golden era (seasons 4-9) and are reminded of its genius: laugh out loud funny instead of meh, character-driven episodes, being touching without being sappy and great animation touches that didn’t rely on being flashy 3D.
1. Noise from the chickens wakes us before 8. It’s not too loud (quieter than the birdsong but more persistent like the sound of distant Canadian geese) but we’ve been listening for it all night. We go down together to let them out.
1b. I sit and wait for the chickens to emerge from their pop hole and explore the run for the first time. It’s a long but peaceful wait. A pair of Great Tits take an interest in the gentle clucking coming from within the coop. The sun dapples the wood and makes the beck shine like diamonds. Eventually they all come down the ramp and after taking some photos, I leave them to their exploration. On the way out, I have an overly optimistic look in the nest box but it turns out I wasn’t being too hopeful – our first egg is waiting.
2. We’re making pleasant, polite small talk when A spots the couple on the lawn outside – from the way they’re sat, it’s not obvious but subtly suggestive that “couple” is the right word. Within seconds, the small talk gives way to an excited flood of gossip.
3. The kids in the advanced group seem incapable of doing any improvisations at the moment without them quickly getting very very wrong. Last week saw a scene around copiously scratching teenagers with genital herpes and this evening, they create a soap opera set in an old people’s home with the most sexually energetic elderly people ever, Yorkshire Tea flavoured condoms and the line “I’ve got sexual energy running through all my varicose veins”. We’re all crying with laughter during the rehearsals but it doesn’t seem to go over as well as we’d hoped when they perform it for the others. The journey – creating the characters, the setting, the blocking – is more important than the destination, and the journey was a hoot.
1. “This wood will keep you warm next winter,” I tell Carla as she watches me pull thick branches from the giant pile and stack them on the dormant flower bed. Further down the garden, John is building a platform where the wood will season while I’m sorting it from the twigs (which will be chipped and used under our chicken run) and the ivy (which had been strangling the tree and will now be composted). The garden is so much lighter without the sycamore’s shadow.
2. The giggles and screams as John tricks people on ChatRoulette.
3. The worst thing about World of Warcraft is all the travelling about so I like it when I have a string of quests to complete on the way. I loop through the Hinterlands with perfect efficiency and level up twice when I cash in all the completed tasks at Revantusk Village. The game’s combination of micro tasks and multiple possible paths is deeply rewarding and I wonder how I could organise projects in my real life to be as pleasurable.
4. I finish reading ‘All my friends are superheroes’ by Andrew Kaufman. I enjoy the physical book as much as the story – super smooth ivory pages and a lovely choice of font.
5. Another day sorting and stacking wood. It’s pleasing to sweep up the last of the sawdust when the giant pile has finally gone.
6. The sieved flour disappears into the liquid almost instantly, leaving behind just a ghostly trace.
1. I have breakfast in the newly re-emerged garden – the first time it’s been snow-free in nearly a month. I count up how many of my garlic bulbs avoided being stolen by squirrels and watch the cats as they refamiliarise themselves with all the smells of the neighbourhood. The pond is still mostly frozen but the beck is flowing quickly, filled with melted snow from the hills.
2. We go out to the Dogs Trust and meet a beautiful but very shy dog called Scooby. The trainer explains Scooby’s social problems and we laugh because they match mine almost perfectly. The trainer admits they match his too.
3. We slide the mints from their packets at the end of the meal and the wrapper sticks to our fingers with static electricity. We walk them between our digits for a few minutes then store the wrappers in our pockets for future enjoyment.