Sunday, 27 September 2015

You Can't Beat Experiencing Life At First Hand

Dear Friends
Firstly, thank you to everyone who left comments on my last post - unfortunately I was unable to answer them due to the fact that the Wi-Fi signal was terrible at the place where we were staying.  I have been incommunicado for a whole week - unable to read and comment on your posts.  But I'm back now - normal service will be resumed - and I have to say I have missed you all.

Experiencing real life is a good feeling.  Like being out in the elements - sun, wind, rain on your skin.  Watching a sporting event - the N.Norfolk Triathlon - with all the crowds; excitement; the excellence, energy and stamina of the athletes - how can you get the same atmosphere whilst watching a square box in the corner of your living room - it's just not the same.

Walking through a wood with beams of sunlight dappling the woodland floor; finding all sorts of fungi in unexpected places. Or watching the antics of sea birds, hawks and ducks doing what comes naturally - soaring, swooping, feeding, dabbling, wading.

You can see all the wild life films you want but there is nothing like seeing creatures  in their  natural habitat.  Whilst we were away we visited a Nature Reserve and saw Common and Grey seals basking in the sun with the sea lapping around them.  They were totally at home being photographed and gawped at by boat loads of adoring public.  The landscape was 'not of this world', treeless, barren, beautiful and wild and unspoiled - a revelation.  My fear of deep water had stopped me from experiencing these wonderful moments before.  I am so glad I took the plunge and stepped on to the boat so I could witness it all at first hand. 

Forget the escapism of reading a novel or watching a movie or a tv documentary - it just isn't the same as actually being there and experiencing it for yourself.  Sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone - for putting your fears to one side, taking a risk or two - and never have cause to say, when your time is up - I wish I had done more with my life - how sad would that be. Live life to the max.
 'Til next time
Cherish the memories



Friday, 18 September 2015

From The Wild Garden of the Waning Year

Hedgerow Bouquets
I had written the word Cornucopia in my notebook but couldn't remember why.  Then it struck me that this time of year the hedgerows are a veritable Cornucopia of wonderful things to gather.  Berries and fruits shine out like beacons waiting to be plucked from their often thorny stems.  Scarlet hips, crimson haws, indigo sloes  with a pale bloom on their skins.  Glistening purple elderberries drooping under the weight of the fruit.  Burnt orange rowan berries hanging in clusters.  Acid green crab apples like perfect miniatures.  Knobbly horse chestnuts.  Spiky sweet chestnuts.  Food for free that Mother Nature provides from her wild garden.

It has been a pretty chaotic week and I have had very little time for visiting blogs or even thinking about my own post - so I will just let the pictures do the talking.

The last berries, apples and plums, wet and almost rotting from the late sun and autumn rain, lend a mellow, alcoholic scent to the space, like the dregs of an abandoned glass of wine.  The garden is falling asleep with an air of damp tobacco and wood smoke, but it is still abundant too, with late blackberries, damsons and a grapevine at breaking point.  Each year I race to get to those blackberries before the feast of Michaelmas, when the devil is said to piss on them. ~ Nigel Slater

Autumn cooking is for storing, squirrelling and hoarding, in larder and cupboard, attic and cellar and freezer.  In the mornings, a mist rises and wreathes in and out between the tree trunks.  On the damp grass lie windfall apples and pears, burrowed into by late wasps.  By noon, the sun is high, and it is warm.  The leaves are beginning to yellow and curl.  Runner bean flowers are shrivelling at the tops of their poles.  Fruits hang thickly clustered from their stems, over-ripe, ready to fall, plums and damsons, apples and pears, rowan and elderberries and dark succulent brambles. ~ Susan Hill
Garden Bounty - early September 2015

My home is turned upside-down at the moment with inches of dust everywhere. The electrician has been to put in new wall sockets.  The radiators have been taken off the walls and drained leaving black sludge on the carpet. Oh my.    The plasterer comes next week to do the walls so we are going away for a few days to leave him to it.  It will be bliss to stay somewhere that is normal and clean and organised with everything in its place - and hopefully I can leave all the stress of it behind too.  Just for a few days anyway.

I wish you Adieu - 'til next time.



Friday, 11 September 2015

Late Summer Reverie

I wandered to the top of the garden to my favourite spot; the bench that sits beneath the greengage tree, amongst the vegetable beds. In front of me is the arch, dripping with runner beans, behind that my huge apple tree bursting with crimson fruit.

I listen and hear a Woodpecker calling, and the lowing of a cow in the distance, calling for her calf; watch a bee settle on a nearby flower;  see a dragonfly and hear the whirring of its wings.
The leaves on the nearby Sycamore tree are swishing in the wind, a background noise that is so constant, here on our hill, that it is hardly noticed.  The crows gather there and keep up a noisy dialogue for most of the day. The sun goes behind the clouds and the wind picks up and feels a little chill.  Then the clouds break and the sun beams through again - how changeable it is at this time of year.

Rain clouds are gathering; now the bean leaves are rattling together in protest.  I turn my head  and see the cows grazing in the back field, just getting on with the business of being a cow.  A tractor trundles up the farm track pulling a muck spreader behind it; the smell of liquid manure is pungent as it drifts across the fields on the quickening wind.

"Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled.  The season comes full with the first frost, the disappearance of migrant birds, and the harvesting of the season's last crops."
Glenn Wolff

Late August, given heavy-rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking.
Seamus Heaney
Sitting quietly listening to the sounds of the day; reassuring in its normality; comforting in its simplicity - I lose myself in this time, this place.

O England, country of my heart's desire
Land of the hedgerow and the village spire.
Land of thatched cottages and murmuring bees,
And wayside inns where one may take one's ease.
Of village greens where cricket must be played,
And fat old spaniels sleeping in the shade.
E.V. Lucas

And as I watch an airplane soaring and hear its rumble in the sky as it heads to its destination, I sit on my green bench, my feet firmly on the ground, writing it all down, then the church clock chimes and breaks my reverie.

So another week passes - on Sunday the sun shone all day long.  It was a delight to feel the sun on my skin as I sat reading outside taking advantage of the good weather while it lasts.  A book called Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth - 'a perfect book to curl up in a chair and forget the world with.'  Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together in a compelling tale of desire, obsession and the redemptive power of love - a re-telling of the story of Rapunzel.  I can hardly bear to put it down.

On a more practical note I have been re-connecting with the earth, sowing the last of the lettuce and radish seed for some late crops; gathering Mint (Moroccan, Spearmint, Basil, Chocolate and Apple) to dry for use in Winter; and snipping stems of Lavender for making scented pouches.

I had a serendipitous moment in the newsagents this morning I picked up a Writers magazine,  which has spawned an idea for what I will be doing this winter - there are  competitions in it for short story writing - I think I may have a go - a good way to attempt to  write in different genres - this month  the topic is an Adult Fairy Tale - now there's a challenge!

'Til next time

Friday, 4 September 2015

Now is theTime of Slow, Mist-Hindered Dawns

By all these lovely tokens September days are here,
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer.
~ Helen Hunt Jackson
Autumn is knocking at the door.  The last roses of the year are bravely blooming.  But most flowers are fading fast.  Swallows are gathering on the wires ready for their long journey south - a sure sign that summer is almost over.

We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds
of Summer's wreckage.  We will welcome Summer's ghost.
~ Henry Rollins
In the early morning, dew settles on the grass, the distant fields are shrouded in mist and the evenings are chilly - log fires have been lit.  Everything seems to slow down at this time of year, and although we haven't had the best of summers, I sit here wishing that I had made more of it now that it is nearly over.  I will miss sitting at the garden table reading in the afternoon sun; watching the birds and bees going about their business.

'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming alone,
As her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
~ Thomas Moore
But it also makes me realise how lazy I have been over the last few weeks; putting off household chores in favour of lingering in the garden.

Now the compulsion to put my home to rights is at the front of my mind.  The oven has been cleaned; the fridge emptied and suspect items of food thrown away; surfaces cleared and cleaned; everything tidied away - my little kitchen looking spick and span - for a while anyway, whilst the rest of the ground floor is in chaos as we stack the pictures, move furniture and cover everything in dust sheets. 

It has rained steadily over the last few days which has brought the sweet peas back to life - I thought they were on their last legs; surprising what a good downpour from the heavens can do. I looked out of the window and saw the cows huddled into the hedgerow, looking downcast.

Yet Saturday was a really pleasant day.  I went out in the early evening to get some fresh air after toiling indoors all day; the sun was slowly sinking and the air was still; I set about weeding the vegetable beds which had become overrun with weeds.  The earth was warm beneath my fingers and my mind drifted as I worked - it was one of those moments when I just felt happy - for no particular reason.  My only company was the garden Robin singing away - he seemed happy too.  Then in one last hurrah, the sun gilded the apple tree in a rosy light, that quite took my breath away, before it disappeared below the horizon.  When I came back indoors I wrote down how I felt because I wanted to remember it just as it happened.

I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal
sunshine by staying in the house
~ Nathaniel Hawthorne

I will soon be re-starting my daily afternoon walk - I always abandon this during the summer in favour of working in the garden.   I am looking forward to seeing how the countryside around me will change over the coming weeks; and of course taking plenty of pictures to accompany my future posts.  I am trying to learn to use my husbands more complicated camera when I am at home, rather than my little 'point and click' - hopefully I will get the hang of it, eventually!

Now, on a golden day in late September, I took two books out to a deckchair in the garden.  The first apples were thumping down.  The last swallows were dipping and soaring, dipping and soaring over the pond.  A dragonfly hovered, its electric-blue back catching the sunlight.  There had been an early mist and cobwebs draped over the long grass like parasols caught and held on their four corners.  The air smelled of damp earth.
 - Susan Hill

Although this poem is for a later time of year it still says Autumn to me with some beautifully descriptive lines - the daggered hawthorn bleeds bright crimson beads - read on:-
Now is the tolling time
Between the falling and the buried leaf;
A solitary bell
Saddens the soft air with the last knell
Of summer.
Gone is the swallow's flight, the curving sheaf;
The plums are bruised that hung from a bent bough,
Wasp-plundered apples in the dew-drenched grass
Lie rotting now.
Doomed with the rest, the daggered hawthorn bleeds
Bright crimson beads
For the birds' feast.
Gone are the clusters of ripe cherries,
Tart crabs and damsons where a bullfinch tarried,
Only the camp-fire coloured rowan berries
Blaze on.
Now is the time of slow, mist-hindered dawns,
Of sun that stains
Weeds tarnished early in the chilling rains,
Of  coarse-cut stubble fields
Where starlings gather, busy with the scant grain,
And the hoarse chattering proclaims
The spent season.
Now are the last days of warm sun
That fires the rusted bracken on the hill,
And mellows the deserted trees
Where the last leaves cling, sapless, shrunk, and yellow.
A robin finds some warm October bough
Recapturing his song
Of Aprils gone,
And tardy blackbirds in the late-green larch
Remember March.
 St. Luke's Summer ~ Phoebe Hesketh
(Any spell of quiet, dry weather starting on 18th October has its origins in folk lore based on the Feast of St. Luke.   Although he is the patron saint of physicians, surgeons, artists and butchers, his name has been traditionally linked to St. Luke's Little Summer. The term Indian Summer is recent and refers to Native Americans gathering their harvest later than in Britain).

And so my friends - enjoy the last of the summer wine while you can.
'Til next time