Autumn has been my favourite season for as long as I can remember. I love the changing colours of the trees, the berry laden hedgerows inviting you to have a brambling adventure (in our past life these often culminated in a husky frantically humping me whilst the slightly poacher-ish owner would claim “it’s the smell of the berries”, the first time I’ve heard it called that. As this happened every year, for four years, I suspect the owner had some tracking device on me for his dog’s pleasure.)
I love the fact that autumn sees a return of Strictly and an assortment of good telly to curl up in front of, once the kids are in bed. It heralds the start of a season of celebrations for us, starting with our wedding anniversary, working through mine and J’s birthdays, a few weeks of reprieve and relaxation before Christmas is upon us.
This year I’m even more excited, as it feels like autumn is actually happening right on our doorstep. For the past few weeks we have watched the swallows start to gather and head off for warmer climes, there’s a few stragglers left behind but the nests in the barns are now vacant until the occupants return next spring. Every day we watch sparrows, blue tits, starlings, goldfinches, greenfinches and a host of other birds gorging themselves on our bird feeders – which need refilling every day. The hens are heading off to bed earlier and earlier each night and their autumn moult is blanketing our yard in feathers.
For the first time I feel truly a part of autumn. Our farming neighbours have cut the straw (kindly letting us snaffle bagfulls for the hens). They are now trying to gather it in between the monsoon like rain showers, and every time the rain falls after a day of sunshine, your heart sinks for them, as (in my inexperienced, none farmer head anyway) you know it means the straw is that step closer to rotting in the fields; meaning a potentially costly winter, buying in feed for the cattle that surrounds our home.
This morning we went to the school’s harvest festival assembly, I’m sure we did have something similar when I was little but I struggle to remember it, but it was a reminder that here, in our rural idyll, the land and the elements do still have a direct impact on people, their lives and livelihoods. This is why we moved. To reconnect and find something simpler. Just not necessarily easier.