The Invader Rabbit is most wascally! Even after we closed off all the previous entry points, the rabbit got in again. We went rabbit tracking, and followed the tracks and droppings as Rabbit worked their way around the perimeter of the garden. We discovered and blocked the entry point. Then a couple days later, Rabbit was back. We tracked Rabbit’s movements again, and shoveled the snowbank away from the retaining wall and fence so Rabbit can longer climb over the fence with the assist from the snow.

I give the critter credit for persistence. But curse the Rabbit, they ate the bark on Professor Plum! Professor is not completely girdled like Walter Crabapple, but there is only a finger’s width of bark left up one side and that is not enough. But all may not be lost. I did some research and found a very helpful YouTube video about critters girdling trees. Professor is young enough that if we cut right at the bottom of where Rabbit ate the bark away, Professor may have the wherewithal to put out new sprouts from the trunk or send up some suckers that we can then judiciously prune and mold into a new trunk and tree.

If it works, this is quite a setback for the Professor since they have been with us going on four years and this last year was the first time we had blossoms. Three blossoms to be exact. The three blossoms did not result in any plums, but I didn’t expect them to. I was hoping that perhaps this spring… sigh At least I know where I can forage plums until Professor regrows, or we need to find a Professor Jr.

One thing is certain, if Professor regrows, I am going to make sure there is winter protection around the trunk to guard against Rabbit Invaders. And the new cherry tree will also get winter protection.

On a happier note, I sat down on my living room floor last weekend with all my seed packets, my garden “map,” last year’s garden planting plan, and a blank piece of paper for this year’s planting plan. And I thoroughly enjoyed myself working out where to put everything. I do so much interplanting of vegetables that it’s challenging to move them around from year to year. So I look at the big picture and make sure I don’t plant squash or potatoes in the same place every year. Everything else moves around those.

I also tend to get a little stir crazy this time of year and want to start seeds but it is too soon. To keep myself from seed starting too early, I calendared everything. Next weekend I get to winter sow yarrow. This will go out on the deck in the cold for stratification. But on February 25th, I get to start the onion seeds. I have not tried growing onions from seed before so we’ll see how it goes. Then no more seed starting until March 18th. At least I will have the onion sprouts to care for until then.

It is the season of Imbolc. Imbolc is a cross quarter holiday—halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox—celebrating, not exactly spring here in the north, but let’s call it the gradual reawakening of the earth and the promise of spring. If you’d like to know more of the details of the holiday, check out By My Solitary Hearth where Eliza provides as many details as you could want.

This last week was incredibly cold here with temperatures and windchills well below zero fahrenheit every morning. We had the heat lamp on for the chickens 24/7, which makes them a bit jittery, but keeps them warm. Since we were not about to stand outside in the frigid cold, we waited until Saturday afternoon to do our ritual. Last year we stayed indoors and watched the movie Groundhog’s Day and then declared something we wanted to let go of. And while I like the movie, watching it every year would get old fast, and the declarations were quickly forgotten.

So this year we decided to write down something we wanted to let go of on a slip of paper and we went outside and stood over our frozen copper birdbath and burned the paper. Even though we had to relight the paper several times because the wind kept blowing it out, it was most satisfying. It is a ritual cleansing to clear away the old and unwanted to make room for the new sprouts of spring.

For years we only celebrated Winter Solstice and would sometimes do May Day (Beltain), sometimes Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox, but never anything consistent. But a couple years ago we began doing all the Wheel of the Year holidays, and since it is still rather new, we continue to try different rituals to work out what we like best and find most meaningful. I think the burning of the old/weeds/not sure what to call it, will likely stick.

I would have opened a jar of dandelion jelly for a food celebration, only I was not careful enough last spring and, thinking I had saved a jar, discovered I had not. So this spring I will need to be sure to save some, because last year I very much liked opening that jar of sunshine jam at Imbolc.

Celebrating the holidays is also part of my intention to slow down and well as pay attention and create stronger connections with the changing seasons and Mother Earth. I’ve always thought of myself as a patient sort of person, but the more I focus on slowing down, the more often I run up against impatience. It’s been surprising.

I am happy to say I signed up for a class on how to use a drop spindle. That is set for the end of March. I am so excited. And I keep thinking, oh maybe I will learn how to spin on a wheel next because it will be so much faster! Hahahaha, see how trying to speed up tries to sneak in where it is not wanted?

an unfinished gray-brown wool mitten  with knitting needles still in it, fingers sticking out of the top, and thumb sticking out
In progress mitten

And here is my slow mitten, almost done. Yes the cuff is a different yarn that looks not great with the mitten yarn. I was worried I didn’t have enough for both mittens so I knit the cuff with a different yarn I thought would look ok but it looks terrible. After I knit the second mitten, if I have enough yarn I will re-knit the cuff with the mitten yarn. If I don’t I might re-knit it with a different yarn of a less clashing color. Or, since it’s the cuff that will be mostly hidden beneath a coat sleeve, I might just leave it.

As for my pin loom square, I have less than a quarter of it to go. The last bit is slow going because the warp is less flexible and the weft is getting closer and closer to the edge of pins. I keep missing warp threads and having to take it out and do the row again. At least I have so far noticed and not had to pick out several rows to fix it.

  • Book: Underland by Robert Macfarlane. He writes so beautifully and the underground places he is exploring sound amazing, but ack, I have to keep fighting claustrophobia while reading about all the tight, small dark places he has to squeeze through.
  • Book-length essay: The Disappearance of Rituals by Byung-Chul Han. This is a beautiful little book I am reading slowly about how we are all impoverished in so many ways by the disappearance of community rituals.
  • Podcast: For the Wild: Samuel Bautista Lazo on Handmade Futures. This was wonderful listening that included stories about traditional weaving in Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico. I’ve always liked the simplicity of backstrap looms and would love to make one of my own and learn to weave on it. I learned from Lazo that the looms, the weaving, and the cloth or rug that comes from them are considered sacred. This is because one end of the loom wraps around the woman’s waist at her womb, and the other end is connected, usually to a tree, rooted in the earth. And the woman sits on the ground while she weaves with materials grown and gathered from the earth. I had no idea there was so much meaning in these looms and weaving.
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Loved it! So much grief and so many beautiful tributes to Chadwick Boseman and also some most excellent damning statements about racism and colonization, but also some good humor too.

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14 thoughts on “Invaded Again!

  1. I’ve not heard of Imbolc before but I love the idea of the seasonal celebration. Will you be planting new items this time – things you haven’t tired before? I think we’re definitely going to have to do a bit of a spring revamp as we’ve lost some stuff after the winter storm we had a couple of weeks ago. We’ll see!

    1. I am trying some new things this year Iliana–onions from seed and a couple of greens I have never grown before. I always like to try something new and different. Most of the time they don’t work out, but sometimes they do! Sorry to hear you lost some plants after your winter storm. I hope you find some beautiful new ones to fill in their places.

  2. That bunny is a jerk! Geez. I hope your continued efforts are successful before he decimates your garden! We love to celebrate the seasons – your Imbolc celebration reminds of something we do for Winter Solstice — we go outside at midnight and burn the things we want to let go over (on paper), and bury the things we want to grow (again, on paper). It’s fun and is a nice ritual. Of course, we have to remember to write down the things we want to grow or we forget them!

    1. I think Daphne we have managed to thwart the rabbit finally! Yay! Oh I love the burying part of your ritual! Sadly I can’t bury anything in December or February with the ground being frozen. Perhaps I can figure out another holiday ritual I can to do it, maybe May Day? Hmmm….

    1. Oh Melanie, you made me laugh! Yes, the rabbit is a dick! 😀 Thanks for the book recommendation! I added it to my reading list. When I will manage to get to it I have no idea, but it’s on the list so I don’t forget!

  3. That’s a rabbit I’d be tempted to put on a plane and send to some nice, sandy, prickly desert. What a frustrating situation! I was wondering if the trunks could be wrapped to protect them; and hope the plum can be saved in some form. Though I really love Robert Macfarlane’s writing those tight, small dark places would get to me too, especially at this time of year. May your bitter cold let up and much joy be found in garden planning!

    1. LOL Julé! I’d like to send the rabbit on a long trip far away too! Oh my goodness, I have never felt so claustrophobic while reading a book before. Macfarlane should have put a warning on the cover or something 😀

  4. I’d never heard of Imbolc, so I enjoyed reading about that. The book about disappearing rituals sounds fascinating, and I like how your post tied in with that theme!

    1. Heh, funny how the book coincided with my Imbolc ritual! I am still reading the book and it is sooo good. I hope to eventually write something about it.

  5. I had to look up Imbolc yesterday when a librarian Facebook friend posted about her celebration, and here it is again!
    It’s wonderful to mark the seasons the way you’re doing. I can barely keep up with the federal holidays. As you’re preparing and organizing for spring, we’re over here just finally putting away Christmas decorations! 😀

    1. Thank you Jeanne! Even after a couple weeks now it’s been sticking around and when I feel the things I burned starting to try and make a comeback, it’s easier to fend them off 🙂

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