Well yes, I’m aware that this week I promised a blog post concerning a striped ‘something’. Events, however, have overtaken us in the form of several inches of snow and a howling easterly wind that felt as if all the needles and pins dropped between the ClothSpot floorboards were being fired at me like a scene from Harry Potter.
In fact it all went a bit ‘Fargo’ this week as we became increasingly snowbound.
All the roads around us were closed and although we managed to (literally) dig our way out for the post runs, Judy and Freya were both snowed in on the other side of our village. ClothSpot has been increasingly a one-woman band – although not quite. Judy’s been able to help out across her not-exactly-speedy rural broadband while car-pushing and snow-digging assistance was gratefully received from Rebecca (who took 3 days to get home from her place of work). Also with perfect timing, our friendly TNT man delivered some crucial fabrics about an hour before it all got completely silly.
So – if anyone thought that I was going to do do a series of clothing changes and stand around in our (unheated) photography space, then sorry, but not sorry. Did I ever mention that I feel the cold? However we did go for a walk before the wind started and the drifts deepened. Here’s a snap of our usual route for the post run.
The wind has now died down a little – and thank you to all those who were kind enough to enquire after our wellbeing following news reports of RAF mobiisation and snowbound cars across Lincolnshire. Pleasingly, this year I managed not to skid the car into next-door’s field – and so I didn’t need to ask them to drag me out with their tractor again. Result! Plus if the pipes freeze, we’ll just need to break off an icicle from the back of the house and melt it over the stove. The only real crisis here is that the office Smint supply has run low.
I hope that all of you are managing to stay warm, with plentiful supplies of milk, bread, hot drinks and warmth. It occurred to me this week that it’s rare for us to be quite so challenged by the elements. There was a point on Wednesday when everything did begin to feel a bit of a struggle – especially when the hydraulic fluid that works my car’s gearbox froze up (or so I’m given to understand). We’ve been very dependent on the weather forecast and the news – and I began to appreciate how important it is to feel connected despite our rural isolation.
There’s a very practical element to our fabrics this week but we do have our ‘Prairie’ draping navy blue floral viscose fabric in amongst our otherwise comparatively utilitarian offerings (we thought it was an appropriate selection given the weather!) It’s a fabric that prompted thoughts of 90s ‘grunge’, or folksy Americana dresses; themselves echoing 1930s Depression-era clothing. Reducing such hardship to fabrics and fashion isn’t something any of us are comfortable with I’m sure – but it reminded me of the importance of the radio as a means of connecting people.
The Minnesota radio show (and subsequent film) A Prairie Home Companion immediately came to mind, which itself was partly inspired by the Grand Ole Opry, a weekly country music radio show. One of my favourite singers connects the two; Iris DeMent appeared on the Prairie Home Companion and I love her song about the music in her family home, Mama’s Opry.
I thought I might share some of the prairie-related diversions that have been part of my ‘Fenland Home Companion’ over the winter.
On the book front, I was given a copy of Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder at Christmas. I’ve never read it (although I remember the TV series in the 70s) and I devoured it in a day. I loved the detailed accounts of ‘homesteading’ including the precise details of how they built a log cabin. I had no idea that this was on the second of a series of books so I downloaded and read the first one, Little House in the Big Woods just as eagerly. I’m saving the rest for next winter.
On Netflx I watched Anne with an ‘E’ – the Canadian dramatisation of Anne of Green Gables. The photography is stunning and the characters are just as I remembered them. Much better than the 1934 film which seems to have her growing up awfully quickly (although it’s an unfair comparison I’m sure).
A winter film I’m very fond of is Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. (That’s if we can get past the uneasy (to say the least) premise for the film – seven young women being kidnapped and taken away to a mountain cabin for the winter by their respective young men. Hmmm.) However – the barn-raising dance is just superb.
My musical choices could go on for ever but I’ve put together a Spotify playlist of some of my ‘Prairie’ favourites. It starts with Nanci Griffiths’ beguiling introduction to Trouble in the Fields from her album One Fair Summer Evening which sets the scene. Do press ‘Play’ if only for that.
Other highlights include Jane Siberry’s song of children playing ice hockey on a frozen river, which is sublime and evocative even if you’ve never played ice hockey (I haven’t!). Also on the list is Kate Bush’s Snowflake – a snowstorm from the point of view of – well – a snowflake.
I make no excuses – it’s a personal selection – and a brief one at that (be grateful!) Let me know what you think.
Finally, the Jack London short story To Build A Fire is one that never fails to make me appreciate how fortunate I am to be warm and dry indoors. I remember reading it as a child and could hardly bear to turn each page and the description of the bitterly cold Yukon landscape is startling in its detail.
We’ve at least another 24 hours of snow forecast here so we’ll be hunkering down and getting on with things as best we can over the weekend I know from emails and blogs that lots of you have favourite music, films, podcasts and radio shows that you enjoy listening to while you’re sewing, doing the chores, preparing food or just working down your to-do lists. What have you been listening too, reading or watching, that evokes cold winter days? I’d love to know – do share them if you have a moment. I can stack them up ready for next winter, like so many seasoning logs.
As soon as we have a thaw, I’ll get back to my ‘striped something’, I promise. Meanwhile stay warm and safe – and thank you again for your kind thoughts this week.