And here is autumn…

Many writers through the centuries have praised autumn extensively, and indeed a sunny autumn day is glorious. The hedgerows on either side of the track to our smallholding are rich red with haws, the last brambles tangle blackly round my ankles and a careful eye can discern the dark purple sloes hanging high up this year after the estate’s injudicious hedge cutting last year. The grass is still a rich green and the leaves are turning olive in preparation for their final flourish in gold, russet and flame.

The nights are closing in but it is still possible to go for an evening walk with the dogs in the gloaming and there is for me no better way to unwind after a day at work than to walk down the track to what we call the chanterelle field with my four little dogs running or sniffing – as long as they don’t roll in fox poo! Often, as I go out or return, I am delighted by one of the astonishing sunsets which are a feature here, especially when I stand at the top gate and look across to the sea and Arran.

Later, going out to give the goat kids their bedtime bottle, it is truly dark and very quiet. While we do have some light pollution from the town about 10 miles away, to me, a town-dweller until just a few years ago, the stars are astonishing and humbling. I still hope one day to learn my way around the constellations. For now, I can safely find the Plough and Orion’s Belt – I have to start somewhere!

But autumn – like any other season in the west of Scotland – is not always idyllic. The drop in temperature is more marked when you have to spend a couple of hours at a time outdoors looking after poultry and livestock – and then there is the rain. Especially after a dry summer when I can simply step out of the door in my normal daily clothes, it is a nasty shock to slither on wet muddy ground in full waterproofs, to find rain making a channel down my waterproof trousers into my wellies, soaking my socks, to realise mid-afternoon that my hair is still wet from my morning’s round and that it will only get wetter when I go back out later. I have mixed feelings about smallholding in wet and mud – I dislike both – but again and again I am surprised by the beauty around me.

A promise of autumn

Standing in the dark,
Listening to rainwater
Rushing off the hill,
Watching the creamy gold half moon
Appear and vanish
Behind thin stripes of cloud,
Delicate as a courtesan’s fan,
I see a promise of autumn –
My breath,
A ghost of warmth
In my torchlight.

CC by SIA 6 ix 2019

One thought on “And here is autumn…

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