11.1.40

No thaw. It would be possible to skate on the church pond, but unfortunately I have no skates here. The other ponds not bearing. Water beetles (the kind whose legs look like oars) can be seen moving about under the ice. When a brick lies in the bottom in shallow water, there appears in the ice above it a curious formation the size & shape of the brick itself, presumably something to do with the temperature of the brick when thrown in being higher than that of the water. Turned up a woodcock in the common lane. No rabbits in the field today. Birds very bold & hungry. Rooks in the vegetable garden, where they do not usually come. One or two primroses & polyanthi budding, in spite of the frost upon them. One of the elm trees apparently bleeds a brown-coloured stuff, sap or something, & large icicles of this hanging down, looking like toffee. Milk when frozen goes into a curious flaky stuff like flaky pastry.

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9 Responses to 11.1.40

  1. Pingback: Birds in the cold snap - Orwell 1940 - A natural history of Britain -

  2. david walsh says:

    Just think, it could have been a lack of skates that meant we could have animal farm and 1984

  3. Michael says:

    Great descriptive diary entry today; my favorite in weeks! Tis cold and bare here in Boston this morning too and Eric’s observations capture the ‘cold as iron’ feel of the morning so well.

  4. Greg says:

    Birds utilize dead plants for food. Cleaning out garden plants in the fall and early winter removes this food. Expired flowers contain seeds which might be picked out of the plant or eaten after they drop on the ground, and stalks can contain insect eggs laid in the fall. By pruning the Crysanthemum yesterday, he might have thrown away food birds could eat today– perhaps eggs.

  5. I live approximately 3 miles (4.828km) from Cowboy Stadium where we have experienced sub-freezing high temperatures for several days. It’s 23°F (-5°C at 0824CST. Looking for a high today, though, of 51°F (10.56°C)!

    Yes, I agree that this is a substantive post by Orwell today. These posts are fun to parse. For example, sentence #1, slams a frozen backdrop onto our imagination’s stage—we all see something different, no doubt, but I’ll bet it’s all frosted and ice-covered.

    Anyway, with sentence #2, I had to chuckle; thereafter, reading on, I saw a plethora of gorgeous metaphors sprinkled amongst the reportage upon the war on vermin and incognito commandos on reconnaissance missions reconnoitring the feasibility of ice-skating across England.

    “Look, there’s Mr. Blair,” says a neighbour, pointing toward the pond. “Why is he out there on his hands and knees, looking so closely at the ice?”

    Another neighbour responds, “He has an affinity for Water Beetle Races. Also, it allows him to view the profile of the ice and any suspicious formations contained therein.”

    “Oh.”

  6. david walsh says:

    And one other thought. When i wasa kid, and the welfare state used to dole out milk in schools, i was a milk monitor. It regularly frozee in cold weather, but i never recall it being (in Eric’s words) ‘being curioulsy flaky’ |Perhaps milk under Macmillan was adulterated ?

  7. yarb says:

    Orwell in observational overdrive today, training his eyeglass on the icebound ephemeroptera.

  8. wordsmithsuk says:

    He’s absolutely right about the milk. I remember it going flaky when frozen – usually when left on the doorstep by the milkman in freezing weather.

  9. The Ridger says:

    Wow. He’s back to observing everything, even bricks in ice.

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