We're settling in for winter here in the Texas Hill Country. Our four girls (two Red Stars, two Buff Orpingtons) are on their cold-weather egg-laying schedule, an egg every other day. It hasn't been cold enough, long enough yet to set up their heat lamps--I'll do that when the temperature falls into the 20s at night. The potted plants are all indoors, and Bill has stacked plenty of firewood on the porch for our winter fires. And I have enough books on my to-read list to keep me busy for many nights.
Garden report. I know--you've buttoned up your garden for the season. But here in the Hill Country, spring comes early, and climate change has peppered the planting calendar with question marks. We're hoping for an El Nino, too, which usually means a warmer, wetter winter.
The spinach I planted right after Thanksgiving is up and flourishing, and I've put in another row. I'll be planting romaine lettuce today, in a box on the deck, where I can easily move it indoors in case of a hard freeze.
I held over a few seed potatoes from my spring Yukon Gold crop; they're sprouted and ready to go in the ground today. The Reddales and Yukon Gold I ordered from Wood Prairie Farm are ready to sprout--they'll go in the ground in early January. (I like ordering from Wood Prairie: they ship seed potatoes in the fall, when I need them.) Potatoes are nightshades and vulnerable to a freeze, but I'll mulch and put up low tunnels (plastic hoops covered with row cover) over the beds. I garden with raised beds, which makes it easy to cover in case of very cold weather.
Book report. There are several projects on the desk right now. I just sent back the proof pages for Bittersweet, the next China Bayles mystery, coming in April 2015, and I'm doing research on the 2016 mystery, Blood Orange. I've done a little more work on A Wilder Rose, which will be out in a reprint edition from Lake Union in March and an audio edition from Brilliance, at the same time.
And I'm working on Hick and Eleanor: A Love Story, in the final third of the novel, hoping to have enough for an early submission by the first of the year. I've been collecting research photos on Pinterest. You can browse through them here. It's truly a fascinating story: Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt, two strong women whose intimate relationship ripened into a deep friendship that sustained both of them--in different ways--until the end of their lives.
And a few other favorite things. No big plans for Christmas, no visiting or travel. it'll be quiet this year, with just the two of us. I've been doing lots of needlepoint, but right now, I'm working on a couple of knitted shawls--my first Wingspan shawl (a pattern I got from Ravelry), and I'm loving it! And reading, of course, always lots of reading. I love winter: the early dark; the gray, chilly days; the beautiful bones of the leafless trees; and a bright fire in the fireplace with wood that Bill cut from our woodlot last summer. And maybe, in an El Nino winter, we'll get some snow. I can always hope.
Reading note: I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future - the timelessness of the rocks and the hills - all the people who have existed there. I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.--Andrew Wyeth