Signs of Life

Is this a bud?

(She asks tentatively, trying to veil her excitement).

Yes! My hellebore IS still alive! Every year I am amazed that anything has survived the dry cold frosts and freezing temperatures. And every year my brave little plants push their way up out of the crumbly frozen soil looking for light and warmth…


(This is, however, nothing compared to the 30,000-year-old flower revived in Russia! See article here.)


The heuchera in a pot near the front door has also stood up to the frost well.

Candlemas Bells (Snowdrops)

“The Snowdrop, in purest white array, First rears her head on Candlemas day.”

(Old English saying)

Well, they’re a bit late this year owing to the big freeze and all the snow we’ve had. But they are now making up for lost time… you can almost see them growing!

The following poem is as dramatic and meaningful to me as the sight of the first little white buds struggling impatiently towards the light.


Do you know what I was, how I lived? You know
what despair is; then
winter should have meaning for you.

I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–

afraid, yes, but among you again
crying yes risk joy

in the raw wind of the new world.

by Louise Gluck


Spring is finally within sight!

We have survived the winter once again!


Our river/canal (the Main-Danube Canal) is freezing up… no barges will pass for a while as the whole waterways in northern Germany are freezing over too.

It’s very peaceful.

And cold.

I feel sorry for the ducks.

Fire and Ice

by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


Late September.

Driving home from the city after a long day.

Deep in thought.

Suddenly the traffic in front of me starts to slow… in the distance I see something moving right on the edge of the road.

Hope it’s not an animal that’s been run over.

No, it’s a bird… a heron?


A peacock?


Now I’m near enough to see clearer and as I cruise by slowly I can’t believe my eyes.

This is what I see:

I can’t believe it! Crested cranes!

Three Grey Crowned Cranes, to be precise.

Of course, as is always the case when something like this happens, I have no camera with me, and there is nowhere to stop at the side of the road. Traffic right behind me. So this picture is courtesy of Wikipedia!

When I researched to identify what they were, I kept reading that this East African bird – national bird of Uganda – does not migrate. So why were they here? Near the River Danube? They must have come from a wildlife park…?


I have since discovered that Common Cranes, which come down from Scandinavia, quite frequently spend the winter months in northern parts of Germany rather than flying further south… Here there are mild marshy resting places.

News, 3rd February 2012: Around 15,000 cranes have been overwintering in parts of northern Germany due to the mild winter. However, at the beginning of the week, as the cold front from Eastern Europe approached, they were seen in large numbers flying south-west and south towards southern France and Spain…

before it got really cold. Clever, huh?

Challenging our Social Values

This article, Sustainable Humanity, by Jeffrey D. Sachs*, caught my eye the other day. I want to share it with you, as I suspect that most of the people who read my blog are of the same mind as me and Mr Sachs. But if someone reads this article and realises that one more personal change is possible to reduce his/her carbon footprint, then Mr Sachs will be happy. And so will I.

Shopping locally and buying regional products wherever possible. Working (partly) from home. Using e-books instead of paper ones. These are some of the small, yet effective steps many people can take. There is still, however, reluctance to change. I feel it too. I love “real” books, French cheese, Swiss chocolate…

This article has got me thinking though. What else can I change?


* (Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and a Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals.)

The Versatile Blogger Award

Surprisingly, I have been nominated for an award… the Versatile Blogger Award. Wow, an Award! For me!

I have to admit that I didn’t really know what this award is…. thank goodness for Google 🙂 . After looking at some previous winners’ remarks, it appears to be a wonderful way of supporting fellow bloggers. This I wholeheartedly embrace.

All I have to do apparently is follow these rules:

  • Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.

Thank You!

Ma. Novie Godmalin of nominated me.

Ma. Novie is from the Philippines and her blog describes some of her travels, things she does, and places she goes. I wish her success with her blog in the future too!

  •  Share 7 things about yourself.

1. I have never been in a garden centre without buying anything.

2. I have a terrible memory for most things… except the names of plants.

3. I have climbed Mount Fuji.

4. I have not climbed Mt Everest.

5. I like lavender ice cream and rosemary shortbread.

6. I prefer a cold and frosty day with clear blue skies to the heat of July.

7. My favourite spices are cardamom and vanilla.

  • Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.

Here we go then. All of these are excellent blogs and these are just some of the people who have inspired and motivated me over the past few weeks. (Some of them are old-established blogs, and probably already have this award!) Please take a look at their sites too! I have listed them in random order:

The Iris and the Lily

The Teacup Chronicles





Vogue Vegetarian









Chick Chick Hooray!

Since 1st January 2012 battery farming is banned in the European Union, which includes 27 countries. This means that hens raised for laying eggs now have space to turn around, nest and scratch… still in a cage, but nonetheless an improvement.

I read this short article recently by one of my favourite writers on animal issues, Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne:

Europe’s Ethical Eggs

Peter Singer describes how the last 40 years of animal rights campaigns have finally allowed hens some dignity. It took a long time, and it is a small step, but there has been progress.

I hope you have time to read it.

Here in Bavaria we are fortunate enough to have a lot of free-range eggs in the stores, but they are always the first to be sold out!  More and more farm shops also sell organic and free-range eggs. Even though all our eggs are clearly labelled, so you can find out where they came from and when, there is still some confusion… Organic eggs are not always from free-range hens, and free-range eggs are not necessarily organic.

I would love to know what the situation is in your part of the world!