060 The darkest days

060 The darkest days

The darkest days of winter can get pretty dark in Northern Germany. For me, the darkest days are the hardest. Without regular doses of real sunshine, I struggle. Where we live, the shortest days of the year have fewer than 7.5 hours of daylight.

Seeing the sky is rare–and tends to come with strong winds. And even then, the sun is low in the sky even at noon.

Some days warm up a little, and longer walks through the forest lift the mood.

Over the last weeks, the “water feature” in what our landlord insists must be a lawn has deepened. The land can’t handle all the water. It’s been raining too much.

Eager for some green, we added some hydroponic plants to the bathroom using an old aquarium pump. We are trying to grow some peppers and strawberries using nutrients from our aquariums. We water all our plants with aquarium water to not have to fertilize. By now there are grow lights in most of our rooms to keep plants alive.

The boldo still isn’t doing well despite the extra light, but it developed a second little branch. Hopefully, that’ll do better.

The pepper plants in the living room are looking a lot less unhappy. The green bell pepper is even developing some flowers. I hope I’ll have to play bee soon.

A lot of insects have been trying to find winter hiding spots in our apartment. I can’t blame them. Cold storms have been ravaging outside. I’d be hiding, too. Honestly, I am.

I kept busy with the kitchen project (and planning other projects), but winter is not my time of year.

I removed the last food from my bedroom floor–yay!

Not much will stay behind my chair. A few bottles of vinegar, and all of the oats. I still don’t know how we ended up with 18 kilograms of oats. Who is supposed to eat all of those?

They all expire in October, so that’s more than a kilogram of oats per month. Yeah, I’ll have to donate some… But until I’ve asked the neighbors if they’d like some bags, I’ve found a spot for them. Progress! Speaking of donating, I’ll also have to sell or donate all the things to the left of my wardrobe.

Even after a few weeks off from school, most of the apartment is still a walk-in todo list. The birdhouse needs painting. The seeds sorting. The floor dusting. I’ll get there. Soon.

I am embarrassed to say that my knives are still dull. I’d reached out to a sharpening service, but when they didn’t respond, I procrastinated on finding an alternative.

Luckily, the food processor can take over some of the chopping work while I wait for the sharpening package. Yes, I finally dealt with the issue. Soon, I’ll have sharp knives again.

Lucky for me, the food processor part was replaced under warranty without any issues.

The stupid machine will make things like dog food and fruit for cereal a lot less work. I won’t miss finely chopping apples and beets at all. I still look forward to sharp knives a lot.

I love to cook but I’ve been uninspired lately with only winter vegetables to work with, and the kitchen a mess.

Most days, we ate pasta or potatoes with easy sides and sauces. Without meat, cheese, or eggs, even bread was rare.

The chicken I’d thawed over the holidays was a nice exception to the monotony. The chicken breasts were hard to shred, so I made pulled chicken instead. I set aside the harder bits. Pulled chicken with beans for dinner, and some chicken for lunch the next day.

As always, no food was wasted in the making of this video 😉

The stock I’d made when taking apart the chicken didn’t last long. I made my first successful soup in years with the stock and some of the wood ears I’d collected and dried. The warm bowls made me feel a little less sick and cold.

Mostly, I stayed on auto-pilot to get the things done that I always need to get done. Laundry, kombucha, all those little things, you know.

But then the snow returned.

With the slightly warmer temperatures, I’d lulled myself into thinking the worst of winter was over.

There is only one living pot left in the greenhouse at the moment: an unhappy mint plant. I check on it every few days to make sure it still has water. I hope it’ll recover once the sun returns.

The forest looks like winter has more to give–or to take?

After weeks of persistent rain, all the surplus water is now frozen over with a thin layer of ice.

The ditches at the side of the paths are filled to the rim, forming streams with only occasional breaks in the ice. The ice isn’t deep, as we stay close to zero degrees. It just barely doesn’t thaw.

Most days, we are cuddled up on the couch early. Winter means hibernation. When last light is around 4 pm, it’s hard not to end the day then.

Most companies take a break over the holidays here, so we still have very limited ingredients. I can hardly wait for the farm where we get eggs, meat, and dairy to reopen after their three-week break.

In the meantime, Pepper and I are enduring the cold. He needs his two short walks no matter the weather. He’s no more a fan than I am.

So long, and thanks for being here.