The weather during most of September has been excellent. Now, though, summer has gradually drawn to a close. There are still warm and sunny intervals but rain clouds are more prevalent, the tiring trees are dripping brown, and the streams are filling up. Autumn is here.
The new walled garden still looks full of colour – Long-Suffering Wife (LSW) has done a great job of maintaining its life throughout the summer and now on into Autumn. The dahlias, which she has tried growing for the first time, largely succumbed to the slugs early on, but those that survived now look magnificent. The scabious, salvia, cosmos (my small contribution), gaura and ever-resilient verbena bonariensis still look great and the last of the bee activity of the season continues to feed on these.
The badgers took all the sweetcorn – they didn’t leave one for us! But there are still vegetables to harvest – leeks, beetroot, potatoes and chard – plus one last elephantine courgette. However, thoughts are now moving on to clearing away the vegetable beds, planting bulbs for next year and putting in a couple more trees. We have ordered loads of alliums which I (and the bees) love and some more narcissuses for the field. I have gathered some wildflower, hollyhock and foxglove seed and now need to do something with it!
We can see a lot of the ash trees in the vicinity are diseased. We have a very impressive, large ash at the edge of our property. It looks appears to be thriving but must surely be threatened by the surrounding ash die-back disease despite its current good health. We need to get ahead of the damage and start planting to fill potential gaps. We have just ordered a cherry and a whitebeam to offset the cutting back we did earlier in the year, and to augment the little orchard we have established over the last few years. However, more tree-planting may be required.
I attended my Parish Council meeting for the village we now live in last week. This was one of a series of meetings I attended related to carbon footprint reduction in the village, local sustainability initiatives and climate change. At the Parish Council meeting I supported a move towards our village becoming carbon neutral and one of the first steps is to plant a 1,000 trees in the Parish. It’s a start and we’ll offer to take three or four more in our field. But I’m aware that other trees will die or need to come down because they obstruct power lines adjacent to our land, so all we are likely to manage is a rough equilibrium. I hope others with space do better.
As we have become increasingly aware of the climate change and sustainability issues, so LSW and I have suffered increasing angst about air travel which has such a big carbon emission impact. Our trips to Canada, Australia (twice!), South Africa and cities in Europe in recent years have magnified our carbon footprint. We haven’t looked to offset these trips up to now but are certainly planning to do so in the future.
Fortunately for the planet, our prevarication in the face of Middle Son’s accident, and then my mother’s recent falls, have given us excuses to shelve our summer and autumn holiday plans to burn up more exhaust in the upper atmosphere. Maybe we will train-ride to Lyon for a few days in October…..
Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy the local walks. The wildlife on the way to the local town each day is constantly shifting in character and behaviour. Seeing it every day allows observation of the slightest changes – the loneliness of the swan, the arrival of little egrets, and the growing snuffling aloofness of the increasingly porky pigs.
This fascination has been augmented by the joy of being able to pick and eat the blackberries on the way. Even better, there are enough – it has been a truly wonderful year for hedgerow blackberries – for cooking and for freezing for breakfasts and puddings during the forthcoming winter.
I shall miss the summer as it creeps away. I shall miss the casualness of not having to worry too much about whether it is going to rain or the need for a coat. I shall miss the sun and sitting and walking in it. But Autumn will have its splendours too, and we are lucky enough to have a house that can withstand the winter cold. In those circumstances, even winter can be attractive. Goodbye summer.