It is 0 degrees Fahrenheit outside, and the wind is whipping yesterday's light coating of powder around draughty street corners. Spring seems unimaginably far away.
Before we were tipped into the deep freeze, on a cool day in the autumn, I found a couple of plastic bags containing greenish stalks in my garden. My friend, bow maker Jesse Berndt, had deposited them there after a raid on his mother-in-law's plants. The plant is called equisetum, or horsetail, and Stradivari used the dried stalks as a kind of 17th-century sandpaper. Sand local!
I planted them in a big pot, since they are reputed to be somewhat aggressive growers. It's one more reason to look forward to spring -- will they have made it? Will I have homegrown burnishing power from here on out?