As I venture out to the workshop these cold dark mornings, I am reminded of some lines learnt many years ago from T.S. Eliot's the Journey of the Magi.
|'A cold coming we had of it,|
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
The ways are not very deep but by the time I get to the workshop it's pretty sharp. The sun does not reach this place in winter, it's damp and getting feet warm is a challenge. It doesn't seem long since I could sit with the door open, the sun streaming in through the door in tee shirt and shorts. Maud on the step looking for tit-bits. Today she stands on one leg on the cold bricks. We have a one sided conversation about the merits of ski socks, or thin socks under ski socks or two pairs of ski socks and boots, but Maud moves off to stand on one leg with Flo under the bird feeder to wait for Great Tits to drop miniscule pieces of peanut.
Anyway ski socks did n't do much and my feet are swollen and hurt so getting shoes on is difficult and Laura had to drive to Loughborough to do the bread and milk run.
Sitting feeling miserable by the Rayburn doesn't last long. The Eucalyptus logs that Patrick gave us have given warmth and there is enough ash now to warrant processing. I put the ash into a bucket and add water. The charcoal rises to the surface and it is skimmed off along with the scum. I rinse the ash a couple of times and sieve it into a large terracotta plant saucer to try and dry it off. Doing my bit for the planet I use water collected in a water butt. There is ice on the surface and you can't wear ski socks on your hands to do this job and this takes the meaning of the word sharp to another level. If I can get the ash dry, then we can try a Eucalyptus ash glaze in the next firing and maybe it will all be worthwhile.