It’s mid-October yet at midday you’d be forgiven for thinking we were still in the midst of summer; but by evening there is a discernible feel of autumn in the air, a decisive nod of acknowledgement towards the cooler months ahead. However, if you rise with the lark the crisp early morning chill is unmistakable. I’ve put the heating on in the car for the school-run, I’ve found a scarf to wear over a t-shirt and when I return home I firmly shut the front door behind me.
Leaves are beginning to fall, crunching underfoot and the days are getting shorter.
We no longer need umbrellas or shade; half an hour of vitamin D is beneficial for everyone and does far more good than harm at this time of year.
If you take the time to look around there are signs of autumn at every junction; the change in seasons is perceptible, the virginia creeper has started to turn its deep vibrant red, putting on the most wondrous display of fall colours.
Many of our roses are making a valiant effort to keep blooming
and the drive is still flanked in foliage on either side.
The Japanese anemone are tough, they soldier on despite the drought, they’ve been flowering for months and show no signs of stopping.
The tiny autumn cyclamen are poking their heads up through the fallen leaves.
Logs are being delivered to homes all over the area in readiness for winter, and yesterday we lit our first fire, we didn’t really need it but just looking at it we instantly felt warmer! There’s no longer the lingering smell of barbecues in the air, and soon the comforting smell of woodsmoke will surround us.
We’ve had a couple of evenings two weeks ago when the rain did the watering for me; it was most obliging as it fell when everyone was tucked up in bed and ceased at dawn the next day when the children wanted to return to the great outdoors and play. We were very grateful for it, none more so than the lawn, and the plants looked refreshed for a few days, perking up and turning their attention back to looking good instead of channelling all of their energy into quite simply staying alive. I am back to mowing at least once a week and incredibly of this time of year, I am also back to watering as the lack of rain has once again returned with a vengeance.
However, the warm days continue to allow the tomatoes to ripen, the courgettes and aubergines are still producing new flowers and the peppers and chilies are more than happy.
In fact it’s pretty much ideal, it’s cool enough to play, no longer is man and beast seeking only the shadiest spot and incapable of little more than slow movement.
Yet it’s still warm enough to lie in the sun should you be a fan of soaking up the rays
Even Rory and Clara have temporarily given up their daytime siesta. In the Summer they sleep all day in the coolness of the barn, in the winter they snuggle inside the house on someone’s bed; but right now they’re out and about with everyone else during the daylight hours.
I have found a renewed passion for the garden, digging over the beds in readiness for winter, pruning anything that needs a good trim at this time of year, cutting back and tidying up.
We still have butterflies and bees circling around, and the ladybugs, as we love to call them, are sunning their backs when they can – even if this little chap is in fact a Harlequin ladybird, a species not particularly welcome in Europe as it is highly invasive and is wiping out our native ladybirds.
It’s time to harvest the peanuts, a first time experiment for Millie who grew them, and we will also say hello to the mutant watermelon/squash plant. This is a single plant with two species growing from the same stem; a mistake in the grafting department at the garden centre perhaps?
The grapes are still going strong, getting sweeter by the day.
The peaches are producing their second crop this year, juicy and sweet and the walnuts are just starting to fall, I’ve collected the first ones and the rest are only days away.
One thing that gives me immense pleasure is being able to give away the excess fruit and vegetables we have grown. I always grow far too many tomatoes, but then again can one ever grow too many tomatoes? I think not, they are a base for so many of our recipes. It is so good to be able to stack a box with them, freshly picked, add a couple of aubergines and courgettes and offer it to friends and neighbours. As you know we’re giving away figs by the crate to all and sundry, and although I have not so much a part in this as I didn’t plant it, our wonderful fig tree shows no signs of slowing down with this season’s incredible supply of thick purple skinned fruits.
The chickens are out and about all day long, busy at work, gone are the hours and hours snoozing under the drooping boughs of the hazel trees.
Our two chicks which were hatched at the end of May have provided us with exactly what we wanted. I don’t know if you recall but there were a lot of variables at stake. There was a 50% chance they could be frizzled. In an ideal world we wanted one male and one female, and we wanted them both to be frizzled. We had to wait and be patient for only time would tell, but unbelievably we got just what we wanted. Both are frizzles, one is a little rooster now named Sirius and the other a hen named Hermione (the Potter fans amongst you can rejoice); and in case you are wondering why we have such a fascination with frizzles, just look closely – their feathers turn outwards instead of inwards and they look perpetually scruffy. That though is part of the charm, they remind me of naughty school kids; they should have their socks falling down around their ankles and always be chattering in the back row!
Alas for another year we have said au revoir to summer but we’re enjoying Autumn, for a while I resisted her charms, but I have relented.
We returned to Emmaüs by the way on Wednesday, but the beautiful carved piece of furniture had been sold; our loss. But it does mean we can continue browsing in the hope of maybe finding something similar at some stage. For all my Canadian readers, of which there are a great many, a very happy Thanksgiving Day to you tomorrow. For everyone affected by Matthew, you are in our prayers, and for everyone I wish you a very happy Sunday. xx