I dropped into the Post Office yesterday morning to buy a stamp and post a letter, and Elsie and Jane had the fire blazing. How warm and cosy it felt. When I got back home from my errand, we sat down and realised that it was time to pull the remains of the polytunnel together, to take care of the old growth, harvest the grapes at last, and begin to prepare the place for winter.
The french beans are long gone, the few remaining green tomatoes will come to nought. The kale will last robustly through heavy frost outside, though the courgettes will succumb to the first serious chill, but the rampant fennel must be pulled, the overgrown herb bed tidied up, the heavy asparagus vegetation trimmed back so we can make our way conveniently along through the various raised beds. Time, in other words, to put things to bed under the plastic cover, nurture the winter salad and beetroot seedlings, and pile the compost heap high with the remains of the summer.
There was surprising sweetness in the grapes I sampled late yesterday afternoon, but my overall feeling was more tristesse than delight. The season is changing before our eyes. We’ve hung new wild bird feeders up so that Earnest the neighbour’s pea cock can’t steal the seed and peanuts away from the little ones, who will soon be desperate for food.
Later in October we’ll trim the overgrown hedgerows at last (missed out on their tidying before spring struck), and the garden will feel like it’s ready for winter.
I’ll be sad to see and feel this summer and enchanted autumn season go, but winter preparations will occupy our minds and bodies too. The cold, crisp and clear nights are rolling in, the open starry skies beckon, and soon we’ll be shaking the winter duvet out. The central heating went back on auto this morning too. Good-bye summer, lovely September, hello to the last quarter of the year.