Powerless – The Year the Lights Went Out

Sunday, February 2 – Candles and chitting

Today is Candlemas, an ancient church festival in which the candles the church would be using for the year were blessed. In previous years, we’ve had a candle-lit procession with every member of the congregation being given a candle to take home. But today, candles are too precious, so just one solitary candle was passed from hand to hand as we prayed for an end to this power cut.

Candlemas also marks the midway point between winter and spring, and today, although there may well be two more months of wintry weather to come, the garden seems to think spring is already here. As well as the hellebores, mahonia and snowdrops, which are truly winter flowers, I’ve noticed the shoots of narcissus and daffodils. Some are several inches tall and a few are already showing slender flower buds.

But the hens have gone on strike again and don’t seem to realise that spring is coming. Only the Rhode Island Reds, which lay brown eggs, have been productive in the last few days. The Legbars are not being at all helpful, just when we could really do with their eggs.

I was able to get extra eggs at the pub yesterday, where one of the village old boys was holding forth about chitting potatoes. He tends to go on a bit, but we listened with interest because we are going to have to grow our own for the first time this year. He and the other experienced vegetable growers said it was best to use seed potatoes, but this year we are all going to have to try with potatoes we have left over this winter. We need to start preparing them soon if we are to plant in about six weeks time.

The other main topic of conversation was the flu which has left several people with bad bronchitis and worse. Two very elderly people have died recently but no one else has succumbed before their time, thank goodness. We seem to have got away very lightly.

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