The 900 days Siege of Leningrad (lasted 872 days, exact figure tracked down by Random House copyeditor) was the source of the seedsavers legend. My other sources, the spectacular freeze of 1963/63, when I learned to skate and took my little brother on a legendary Arctic Trek across the Clough. Arthur Ransome's 'Winter Holiday', and through Ransome, Fridtjof Nansen's account of the frozen voyage of the Fram (it means Onward). The Fram is at Oslo now: standing on that deck in July 1998 was one of the thrills of my life...

From my 'Siberia' Notebook... explaining why it had to be a weasel

The Natural History of Weasels, Carolyn King, Christopher Helm Books London 1989 ISBN 074701800-6

    Mustela nivalis vulgaris, ancient cold weather mammal, the snow-weasel is out common weasel.

    The small and slender body is ideal for rodent foraging, (voles preferred, then mice, lastly shrews, weasels don't like insectivores), but pays a huge price in energy conservation costs in the snow. BUT living & hunting UNDER the snow gives protection & makes sense of body plan... 

   Black tail tip fools raptors, they can't help focusing on the black dot and so miss getting hold of the body. Weasels are amazingly courageous and fearless attacks even on humans have been reported.

  The spring is a dangerous time for small animals, the snow's shelter melts away, & the air is cold.

   More Sources:

Farthest North, Fridtjof Nansen, Gibson Square Books, 2002 1903933099, back in print for the first time since 1897

In Siberia, Colin Thubron, Chatto & Windus 1999, 1856197980, and also Philip Marsden't The Spirit Wrestlers (which is where I found the chervil ring, and The Bronski House.

A Weasel In My Meatsafe, Phil Drabble 0006348939 (Fontana, mass market pbk, 1977) A childhood like mine, a hard book to track down, find Nivvy's personal traits here. I've still never seen a crested newt in the wild.

Mammal Evolution -An Illustrated Guide RJG Savage & MR Long, British Museum Publications, 1986 0565009427
Harimiya, Megazostrodon, Kuehneotherium... Harimiya, 250 million years ago, is the European. It ws about the size of a mouse & is known only from a few isolated teeth found in Britain and Germany (however, the illustration ws v. pretty)
I lost this note, and gave the wrong date, thank you Alison, where would I be without you??

Collins Field Guide to Mammals of Britain and Europe, David Macdonald and Priscilla Barrett, 0002197790

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