A different noise made me look up later in the morning, and it was the dustmen. I was confused since the Tendring District Council website definitely said that rubbish would be collected on Friday this week, and then back to normal collections in the week starting 16 January. I went rushing into the house to grab the kitchen bin, and came out again to find one of them walking up to the house. I asked if they were collecting recycling as well and did I have time to go and get my paper, and he said that I did, and that they were trying to do as much as possible today. That would seem a very sensible idea if they are afraid of the weather messing up their round tomorrow, except that most people don't put their rubbish out twenty-four hours in advance. It was only a matter of luck that I happened to be there and hear the dustcart and was able to go and get the relevant bins. I didn't really understand how they thought their preemptive strike is going to work, but left it to my friendly dustman to worry about.
At lunchtime the rain arrived, and that was my gardening done for the day. It has rained all afternoon, to the great disappointment of Mr Cool who keeps going outside, getting wet, and coming in again, incredulous and indignant that it is still raining. Poor Mr Cool. He brought me a mouse a couple of days ago while I was weeding, and I told him that I did not want his dead thing, and I think his feelings were hurt. He came in this morning with another mouse and gave it to Mr Fluffy, who was more appreciative.
As I looked out of the study window at the rain this afternoon I suddenly realised that the witch hazels were out. They must have just opened. I wandered around the back garden yesterday and didn't notice them then. They pull the same trick every year, and I sometimes panic that they have been flowering for days without my appreciating them. The season of a witch hazel is not very short, but it is not so long you want to miss half a week of it. Down in the ditch bed Viburnum x bodnantense 'Charles Lamont' was studded with its pink flowers when I walked around the garden. I actually smelt it before I saw it.
The trouble with looking at the ditch bed is that I mainly see that the jobs that need doing. The leaves of the hybrid hellebores need cutting off. The latest crop of goose grass seedlings needs pulling up. The overhanging willow branches need cutting back before the snowdrop leaves can grow any taller so that our trampling feet don't damage them. Half the herbaceous perennials in the bog bed remain to be cut down, and an iris which has grown far too large for the space needs digging out. I might replant part of it contained by a large bottomless pot, or I might not, but I don't want it advancing in all directions for another year. It has already overcome a blameless pink flowered Sanguisorba that lay in its path.
I do hope we don't get snow. I know that what I hope for has no bearing at all on what weather we get, but snow is loathsome stuff when you are a gardener, breaking down shrubs and lying in icy lumps that keep you off the borders for days, quite apart from the fact that the nearest road to ever see a gritting lorry starts about a mile from our house. Please let it be rain and not snow. I should not grumble, though. People are being evacuated from Jaywick because of the risk of flooding.