Autumn is open us and despite the searing heat of a late indian summer , the sound of guns from the first of the seasons hunts tell me there is no ignoring the fact that things need doing and that with the morning air is crisp and the grass covered in dew summer is saying its last goodbyes.
So this weekend has been one of picking apples and storing them for winter, collecting hazelnuts and wild plums, lifting the last of the potatoes from the potager and the last of the beans left in the fields after the machines have finished thier work, putting away firewood for the winter to come and trying to get the garden sorted and ready for its long sleep.
I have had 3 trees felled and am busy burning off the pine branches from them, the logs are being cut into rounds so I can lay them as a walkway up to the vegetable patch and soon I am going to cut the wilow and make a living willow arch and fence to screen the now open and sunlit garden from the road. There is an old and rotten wooden barn that needs knocking down too and I need to start work on building the verandah on the front of the house so that in winter the dogs and I have somewhere sheltered to sit and watch the rain and I can sit and drink my early morning coffe before I start the day. Its a project my husband and I had planned for a couple of years we have the wood just never got around to doing it , now I know it is because he had other things on his mind, so I am going to do it alone.
Usually the boys are a great help about the palce but since Middle isnt able to lift anything after his operation and it seems churlish to make youngest pitch in when his brother is busy playing on his computer I am going it alone with the company of the dogs everywhere I go about the garden I am followed by 3 large labradors and a smaller black puppy, in the early morning they bounce and bark and play with the goats in teh heat of the day they waddle and stop adn lie in the shade and only get up and move when I pick up my wheelbarrow or change to another task somewhere else in the jungle that is the garden here.
This mornings early morning task was stripping the ivy from the longere wall , the goats love that and happily munch about my feet and butt my knees gently if I get in the way of a juicy morsel they fancy. Ive been clipping back bramblesw as well before it gets too hot and feeding the fire and the goats with those now my hands are a mess and I think I have broken every nail on my hands but its satisfying work and I sit in the evening as darkness falls watching the stars with the boys and stoking the bonfire breathign in the smoke and making wiht them fresh memories to make up for the ones they want to forget.
Next I must get on balnch and freeze the beans, make beetroot chutney, apple chutney and puree and chop and freeze yet more apples for winter desserts. Its far too much work for one person when I have the rest of life to deal with and two boys to raise but getting a gardener isnt an option and needs must but I have good neighbours and friends who help by appearing with a bag of grain for the chickens or an offer of a hand every now and then and at least I go to bed exhausted and with a feeling of achievement.
We have all grown and moved on in the last months since my husband left, we may be a less orderly household than we were and the kitchen, or for that matter the rest of the house, may not be as tidy as it should be. I may have a list of things to do whihc is dauntingly long and if I let it ,would be overwhelming. There are times when I miss him greatly and wish he was back her helping in the garden doing the wood with me enjoying being a family but he isnt and that was his choice adn we are learnign to live with it. We are, the boys and I, becoming happy again, laughing a lot about silly things, and growing as a family and we work well together.
I have lots of things to be thankful for, and I am.
the painting is Digging PotatoesBy: Carl Larsson (1853 - 1919) I coould do wiht this merry band of women to help me about the garden, I liek this painting of Larssons it is so different to his sugar sweet domestic scenes but still has a lot of love about it