What is it about this time of year that brings out the need to make ready for winter? It isn't as though we live in an age of shortages or have to ensure the harvest sees us through the long cold months in an Ingalls Wilder sort of way (forgot those books yesterday Jane). And yet every year as the autumn gradually chills more and more I find myself preparing, making chutneys and jams to fill the shelves with their myriad colours, wrapping up for countryside rambles to collect the sloes and berries which will become rich gins and cordials to be sipped in time by the crackling flames of a winter fire. The children help chop and stack the logs in the woodshed, a job Elias is particularly skillful at and Sam is particularly half-hearted in, and I will make sure I am nowhere to be seen as I panic at the very notion of them weilding the axe! Dave is far better at over-seeing these things!
The garden is already wearing its shabby coat and I am underway with the spruce up - I love the raking of leaves and the tidying of the campfire ready for Hallowe'en and Bonfire Night when we shall sit on the larger logs as the fire roars and spits, keeping company with pumpkin lanterns carved by the gang earlier in the day. The older children (adults actually) 'help' the younger as all love this part of the festival. Seeds have been collected from lupins and lychnis, marigolds and herbs, and are stowed away in paper bags for the following spring. The last of the windfalls are gathered ready for the weekend's cider making which usually produces a flat cider not popular with all, but loved by us. I noticed a crop of blueberries outside the kitchen from a plant which I thought had not produced because of the torrential rains earlier on in the year, but it seems with nature's resilience it merely waited for better weather before deciding to fruit. Now is the time I will cut back the bedraggled plants after their summer dance to let them sleep away the cold days until the next ball calls. The birds will not go without as there are plenty of seedheads left untouched and berries enough on cotoneaster and ivy, berberis and bramble to keep them going in the chill air.
It is a time of nesting for me and I love it.
Have a lovely day everyone xx