As soon as the snow disappears – which it actually has done on the sunnier side of the garden – the crocuses are ready.

Spring after spring, this still fascinates me.

Defrosting our frozen pipes.

We’ve had frozen pipes before, when the pipes underneath the house were replaced. After that happened, we had heating cables wrapped around those pipes that we can plug in when it gets really cold, and since then we haven’t had any real problems with them.

Unfortunately the pipes that froze this time were not those pipes. This time it’s the pipe from the street in to the house. And that one does not have any heating cable, just plenty of insulation wrapped and packed all around it.

Or rather, it had insulation. We’ve been crawling around (literally) in the crawl space underneath the house, demolishing the enclosure around the pipe and ripping out most of the insulation, so that we could aim a heat blower at it.

The crawl space was amazingly dusty. I hadn’t expected it to be clean, but I still wasn’t prepared for the amount of dust in there.

Anyway, we now have running water again.

The unfortunate coincidence of polar weather and a week-long skiing holiday led to not just very cold skiing, but also frozen water pipes at home. So now we’re making do with buckets and bottles and basins.

The kids find this an exciting adventure; I’m thinking of all the manual washing up that we’ll have to do.

When I was a child, we had no running water in my grandma’s summer cottage where we spent all our summers. We had a well in the yard, and carried buckets of water from there to the kitchen. In the kitchen, there were two buckets of water on a stand, a dipper, and an enamelled basin for washing. For baths and washing clothes, we took the train to town, to my grandma’s little one-room apartment. It seemed like the most natural thing to me, but I guess it must have been a bit of a hassle for the adults.

The hedge hasn’t lost its leaves yet and is in fact still green. You’d hardly believe it’s December. Except that the sun is so low that even at midday it doesn’t even clear the neighbours’ house.

There’s a brief time window in the morning – maybe 5 or 10 minutes – when we get sunlight in the living room, and another in the afternoon around half past one when the sun sneaks in between the neighbours’ house and a pine tree. And a short while later, when the sun gets to the other side of that pine, the edge of the garden gets a moment of slanting sunlight.

The weather is cold but the ground is not yet frozen so I can still make some progress on the trench for the hedge. I’m most unlikely to be able to finish it before winter, but every bit I dig now is one less bit to dig in the spring.

Today’s digging was particularly frustrating because of this ugly chunk of concrete that was lurking just under the surface. I don’t understand what the guys building the wall can possibly have been thinking when they buried it here. “Nobody will ever find it, it’s buried under 10 cm of earth?” “Surely everyone wants a giant lump of concrete in their garden?”

Cherry tree in autumn colours.

Summer is over and most of the tomatoes in the garden are still green. But the ones that are ripe taste delicious.

My trench-digging project (for the hedge-planting project) is not going too well. All of June was lost to crises and panics at work. I hoped to catch up in September but now I’ve been sick with sinusitis and not doing much digging. Looks like I may have to postpone the planting until spring.

And in the meantime, the weeds are back. I cleared them out in May and promised myself to not underestimate their growing power again. Did I learn from that experience? Apparently not very much. Because now they have invaded again.

Evening light on a fern.

The staghorn sumac that I thought was dead (after it was badly mauled by wildlife, probably deer) has put out new shoots. I’m glad I haven’t had time to dig it up and throw it out yet.