A middling type

Autumn, like spring, summer and winter, is definitely my favourite season. Everything just feels so much less frenetic. It is warm and sunny enough to make walking the pooch or pottering in the garden a pleasure, but there’s enough intermittent cloud cover to justify a little indoor sloth and pootering, guilt free. Lyra and I have had some glorious walks. There have been squirrels to stalk in the dappled shade of the woods, hares to chase in the stubble and deer to float benignly over the tops of the hills. Yesterday I had a lovely day in the borders weeding here and there, enjoying the colchicum and dahlias (which have perked up no end) and speculating about the best location for the spring bulbs we have ordered. (Unusually, I may have under-ordered so tonight’s treat is another go at the online bulb catalogue). Today, following a breezy dog walk by the river, counting the congregating swans, I am now toastily installed in the garret with mum. She is piling into The First Man in Rome, the first book in Colleen McCulloch’s Julius Caesar series (which I heartily commend) and I have been filling lavender bags and generally plotting further projects.

The forager in chief drove up from Surrey for my birthday last week (due to anticipated medical advances over the next few years, I remain firmly middle aged). Naturally I put her straight to work. Lachlan having taken custody of the dog, Ishbel was declared dog-substitute and marched up hill and down dale. Despite declining to swim in the river or roll in the grass, she performed well, especially at retrieving. (The eagle eyed darling daughter found the specs I lost in the back field last week. For a heady moment I had all 3 pairs but, alas, the time spent in the washing machine at 40 degrees took its toll and one leg fell off over dinner last night. It was not to be….) Undeterred by the hedgerow prickles, between us we amassed a fine haul of elderberries, sloes, rowans, hips and crabapples and, buoyed by the success of the plum vodka, a range of innovative gins are now festering nicely in the pantry. The pear glut has also been put to good used and, having bottled a job lot for more innocent, porridge based, appreciation, I am now attempting pear vodka. I fear that the ladies in the coop, where I have been buying the base spirit in industrial quantities, must think I am a total lush).

Today, we gaily waved off the last of the summer garden visitors so work can now commence in earnest. There is an eternity of splitting and moving to be done. Amongst other things, my bergenia has been slowly empire building. It has infiltrated a clump of pale blue Iris and is making headway in a plan to totally squish out some rather nice summer snowflakes. The time has come to push back its advances. Thankfully, as I can’t bear to throw out a healthy plant, Raymond next door has declared he is getting out of hostas and this has taken matter out of my hands. In all conscience, I am now forced to create a new shade garden under the plum trees to welcome the refugees. Really, there’s nothing else to be done. (Rubs hands in glee and makes a list of appealing ferns.)

Had I known how delightful middle age would be, I’d have started earlier..

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