There are two danger points in my gardening year, the Friends plant sale in May and the seed catalogues in winter. Guess what time it is? While the ground in the garden is frozen, my imagination is not. I might be swathed in flannel and Dickens and Waldo might be snoring on my feet, but I am really strolling barefoot through my garden. And so the list making begins as though I have all the space and time in the world. Reality will come knocking later.
Short days mean the Dashwoods spend all day in their run except for weekends. But cold, early winter days on weekends mean they stay in their run with the door open, or huddle together amongst the raspberry canes or underneath the witch hazel by the deck. Since the ground is frozen they can’t scratch for bugs and seeds, nor can they try and sneak any garden produce.
And as of this morning, we have several inches of snow on the ground, and they do not like walking on snow. They stand in the door of their run and glare at me like winter is all my fault. There is a purple cabbage for a Thanksgiving treat tomorrow. Perhaps that will help smooth their ruffled feathers.
One day in early fall James left an old shallow casserole dish on the deck in the rain after he had given the Dashwoods a treat. The next day while wandering around the garden, Elinor decided it was a great place to get a drink of water. Ever since, when she is out in the garden, she comes up on the deck looking for a dish of water. So much easier than going all the way back out to the run for a drink. Of course we oblige her with a bowl when she comes looking.
Over the weekend it was just above freezing and she came up on the deck looking for a drink. The casserole dish was there but upside down and she stood pecking at it expectantly. James went out, turned it over and filled it with water. Elinor was so excited that she jumped up on the side of the dish as James was filling it up. She drank and drank while perched on the edge, as though she had been days without water.
James and I were watching her from inside the house as she realized that she was perched on the edge of a dish of water that would flip up and douse her if she wasn’t careful. She slowly inched her way along the brim, trying to figure out how to step off of it without flipping it up. She would lift a foot a little and the dish would begin to tilt and she would swiftly put the foot back down.
The casserole is oval and Elinor decided that the short side was the place to dismount. I thought that was the worst choice she could make, so I watched in surprise as she positioned herself and then deftly took a big semi-diagonal step toward the long side of the dish and put her foot on the deck while leaving her other foot on the short edge of the dish. Balanced between the deck and the dish edge, she casually took her other foot off the dish to complete a splash-free dismount.
Elinor had a few more drinks of water, and then strolled off the deck and back out into the garden. No big deal.