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
Elaine


67 comments:

  1. I must get The Magic Apple tree off the shelf again. What a pleasant place this is.

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    1. Thank you Lucille - kind of you to say so. That quote is actually from Howards End is on the Landing but I know what you mean - it could have been from The Magic Apple Tree.

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  2. How right you were to linger in the garden and enjoy the beauty of the season! I love those fragrant and colourful sweet peas you picked! I should try and grow some next year! Nasturtiums too are quite beautiful. I love the quotations you've included and my favourites are by Nathaniel Hawthorne (such an appropriate name to talk about nature) and Susan Hill.

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    1. I am always torn between working indoors or outdoors - then I think, well, I have all winter to do the indoor jobs - I would much rather be outdoors anyway.

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  3. How lovely that your sweet peas have sprung back into life, I'm afraid mine haven't so it is farewell to them, the dahlias are still flowering and the butterflies are here at last and enjoying the sedum and echinacias. Your post is full of wonderful images of summer turning to autumn. I've enjoyed reading your words and those of the quotes too:)

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    1. Thank you Rosie. I know I couldn't believe it when I saw some sweet peas with long stems as nearly all of them had been getting shorter and shorter. No matter how much you water the garden there is nothing like real rain to do a good job.

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  4. Lovely post. The photos and quotes were fantastic. I especially love the one by Henry Rollins. As I read this, I breath a wistful sigh...

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    1. Thank you Aisling - kind of you to say so.

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  5. Wonderful photos, especially the swallows gathering on the wires speak to my imagination. I think they are gone here too, because I don't see them flying in the air and diving for insects in my garden anymore. Every summer they have their nests in our neihbour's horsestable and I see them flying in and out from our porch.
    In August I have been slowing down too and also in September I still feel too lazy for gardening, love just enjoying transition from summer to autumn.
    I really like the poem and the quotes, beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Janneke for your kind comments. I have hardly seen any swallows or house martins all summer - then the other morning there they all were - they must have been at the other end of the village all summer. The have nested under the eaves of our house for many years but last year they didn't return - I hate to think of what might have happened to them all in the intervening time.

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  6. The lack of being able to sit in the afternoon sun, reading, watching the birds and bees go about their business really sums up summers finale. However, ever the optimist I have high hopes of an Indian Summer lurking around the corner - fingers crossed.
    Did you take these photos with your own camera or your husband's? several are like little works of art.

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    1. It has been really cold over the last few days - I do hope we get a little more sun before it goes altogether. No I took the photos with my own camera - it doesn't take bad pictures but I can't get any depth of field with it - but it is handy to keep in my pocket or handbag whereas his is very heavy. I would like to master his though - I will not be defeated!

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  7. I was awake at dawn this morning Elaine but didn't lift my head from the pillow to observe whether it was "mist hindered", but no doubt that type of start to the day is getting ever nearer. Is it my imagination or are the rose hips bigger than ever this year? Hope that you have a good weekend and get to spend some time out in the garden.

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    1. I have been waking early too but didn't feel like wandering out to check on the mists either luckily they have been hanging about for most of the morning. The rose hips do seem to be bigger - must be all the rain! Have yourself a good weekend too - I have begun to have a bit of a tidy up in the garden as it starts to look a bit of a mess at this time of year doesn't it.

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  8. All signs that Autumn has kicked in ….. I had tights on for the first time today and my Chelsea boots …. a sure sign that there's a chill in the air !!
    I have a big, complicated camera but, my point and shoot camera and the one on my phone never lets me down.
    You have made me feel quite guilty with your shiny bright kitchen so I'm off to clean mine ….. or maybe not !!!!!
    Happy weekend Elaine. XXXX

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    1. Ha! I have abandoned capri pants and skirts and my flip flops have been put away. I can see the autumn wardrobe switchover is imminent. I do like my little camera it is so handy and the pictures are just as good as his, except I can't do micro shots. I always feel quite virtuous when I clean the oven and fridge - I don't know why I put off doing it more regularly as it only took an hour (my friend has professionals come in to clean her oven)!
      Have a lovely weekend yourself Jackie.

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  9. The lingering flowers are oh so beautiful and that evening sky you shared heavenly.
    We (although this is Canada and most associate it with our harsh winters) in my area are locked in a heat wave 30C + over the last 6 days with no relief in the near future.
    Alas I wish for the cool days of Autumn and the prose you have written shall allow me to find that season for contemplation as I wait for its arrival...
    Enjoy this unofficial last weekend of Summer.
    Susan xx

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    1. Thank you Susan. Glad you enjoyed the photos. I don't think we reached those figures this summer - I could count on one hand the really hot days. I do enjoy autumn but always wish summer could have lasted just that little bit longer. Have a lovely weekend.

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  10. Wondering, what did swallows gather on, before there were electric wires???

    What beautiful pictures, to go with your beautiful words...

    Our Indian Summer can not come, until after the first frost... Or so I learned it.. :-)

    Tessa

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    1. Now you come to mention it I do wonder where they used to gather - I have never given it much though before - perhaps they used washing lines instead. Thank you for your kind words. I love an Indian summer, they don't happen often enough for my liking - and it does kind of feel like winter is further away when you have some warmth and sunshine late in the year.

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  11. I'm hoping ours will last a bit longer yet.... Lovely day today; may it continue!

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    1. Well, your weather is tons better than ours - I hope it last a bit longer yet too.

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  12. A lovely post and pictures. I really like this time of year. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks Flighty. I generally like this time of year but it has been pretty cold lately - much too soon for my liking.

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  13. I adore this time of year. Even here in California, where the changing of the seasons takes place with more subtly than in England where I grew up, the tale-tale signs are in evidence. The Canadian geese sign-post my house and have started to fly over it almost daily, the shadows are lengthening, the light has taken on the golden glow of pre-autumn, and the garden is winding down. I too am still picking sweet peas amazingly. I wrote about those in early august as I had quite a crop this year, even though I planted them a little later than usual.

    Enjoy the last days of summer my friend.

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    1. Autumn in California is hard to imagine with your all year round good weather. I do love the fading beauty of it all and when the leaves start to turn it is a joy to behold but we have a while to go yet before that happens. Thank you CD you too.

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  14. Just here to put my name down for the shiny bright kitchen contest that you and Jacqueline are having. If you could maybe keep it very low-key no one else will enter and I'll have a better chance.

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    1. We will keep it a secret just between us three.

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    1. Thank you Blogoratti - very kind.

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  16. Beautiful shot of cosmos, Elaine. And I thought the swallows had only just arrived? D

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    1. Thanks Dave - I thought it was rather arty myself. It seems like you haven't been paying attention to our winged friends - although there don't seem to have been as many about this year that's for sure.

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  17. Swallows and echinacea- 2 things we don't have here. I can't grow echinacea to save my life. I hope your downstairs decorating goes well, just keep thinking about the end result!

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    1. I have trouble with Echinacea too, this is the first time I managed to overwinter them. The walls are all stripped , we are waiting for the man to come to skim them with plaster as they are so lumpy.

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  18. Such a lovely post, you brought me into your world for a while :-)

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    1. Thank you Sarah - so pleased you enjoyed the post.

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  19. My two most favourite months are May and September ... and I sat last night reading a lovely selection of September poems, and now here on your post, are lovely verses of this special time of year.

    Your photo's are lovely to look at, and I look forward to joining you as you begin your afternoon walks ... virtually speaking of course, as I read your words and look at your lovely photo's.

    In the meantime - happy decorating, and have a lovely weekend.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you kindly for your kind comment. My favourite months are May and September too. I do spend a lot of time looking for the right poem to go with the posts glad you liked this one.

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  21. Replies
    1. Thanks Angela - lovely to see you here.

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  22. The forecast is for a good week, we may yet have a last summer fling! Here's hoping.

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  23. Elaine I love your photographs. And especially the swallows on the wires. I love September although not as it is here today, so windy and wet.

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    1. Thanks Rachel they were hard to capture as every time a car went past they all kept flying off - got them in the end though. Today started off horribly wet and grey but brightened up this afternoon - definitely a chill on the air though.

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  24. Your pictures are stunning, especially the colours in the flowers. I enjoyed this post enormously.

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    1. Thank you - very kind of you to say so.

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  25. I definitely think that time spent in the garden during the summer is more important than doing housework!!! I always wish that I had spent more time in the garden so I am glad that you took the time to do that!!! Hope that you enjoy your afternoon walks! xx

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    1. I hate being cooped up especially when the weather is fine but the house suffers in my absence luckily I will have all winter to put it to rights. Thanks Amy.

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  26. Your end of summer photos are quite lovely. My perennials are holding their own against the encroaching cold, but frost will soon win, I believe. I was suprised to see a hummingbird still whirring among the flowers this morning. Enjoy your walks in the cooler weather.

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    1. Thanks Barb. There isn't a lot left in flower now - time to get the garden sorted before the bad weather arrives. I do enjoy getting out and about and have missed it over the summer - there is always something new to see if you keep your eyes open - mother nature has a lot to offer with each season.

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  27. That is such a beautiful poem to end on and lovely to read late evening! I'm so glad you recorded that special happiness you felt while in the garden....it's so easy to forget these precious moments.
    Your header is lovely as is that rose and the cosmos, so very dreamy! How lovely to see the swallows gathering, I'm always so sad to see them go, that's the end of summer to me.
    My house and garden need a little attention, glad to see you have your kitchen spic and span....and hey....good luck with the decorating!xxx

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    1. Thanks Dina - glad you enjoyed the post. There is so much going on at this time of year that if I don't write things down in my journal I can never remember it all. I do try and keep the posts relatively short but I do seem to get carried away, and of course, I love taking photographs of everything to remind me. The decorating has come to a halt as we are waiting for the plasterer to come as the walls are a mess - it all takes time doesn't it. Hey ho. It feels like we are living in a squat at the moment.

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  28. What a lovely mellow post to read, so important to enjoy these precious days of sunshine. I love that delicate photo of the Cosmos Elaine, shows the flower in all its beauty.

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    1. Thank you Annie - yes, these last days of summer are precious.

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  29. So important to get every possible bit of sun before winter. I drop everything else at this time of year and get outside! Beautiful choice of seasonal poems Elaine.

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    1. Thanks Freda. I do so agree, although there has been precious little sun this summer I hear we are due for a warm spell later this week and I intend to make full use of it.

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  30. Such beauty in this post. I love your flower photos in the white. Stunning.

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    1. Thank you Ann - kind of you to say so.

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  31. Love your photos and quotes Elaine. I'm jealous that you have sweetpeas as ours are long gone :) Enjoy the rest of your week x

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    1. Thank you Fiona. My sweet peas were on their way out but have suddenly had a resurgence and I am still picking a bunch every other day - I have been snipping off the seedheads too this helps to keep them going longer. Have a good weekend.

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  32. It has been so hot here it barely feels like fall. Finally today there is a bit of relief from the 30+ temperatures. We have had rain, after weeks of none and the garden is grateful. I think I too will start taking afternoon walks when the garden work ends. Right now there is still lots to do.
    I love your images in this post Elaine. They look like beautiful watercolors.

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    1. It hasn't been a very good summer for us this year - odd spells of warmth but nothing like your temperatures. Not a lot of rain either - mainly overcast and grey. I do enjoy my afternoon walks, more so in winter when they relieve cabin fever. Thank you for your kind comment about my images.

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  33. It sounds like there's a lot going on with you in the house if not so much in the garden as it winds down for Autumn Elaine. I am starting a little mini cottage garden in my front yard and seeing your sweet peas has made me realise I need to get some...definitely! Is it too late for me to plant them here do you think? I'll get a packet in town today hopefully and see. Your photos and lovely words always lift my spirits.

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    1. Thank you Jane for your kind comment. I am still managing to get out in the garden most days trying to get it sorted out before the bad weather comes. I usually sow my sweet pea seeds in spring, some people sow them late autumn for earlier flowers the following year - not sure how this equates to the Australian seasons - it won't hurt to try will it.

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