I think Autumn is my favourite season. September and the joys of harvest, the relief which comes with the start of term and the knowledge that I am no longer the only person responsible for keeping the girls stimulated and happy. I am so not cut out for any kind of homeschooling! But oh, new pencils and clean notebooks go hand in hand with the promise of the first frost, with cold clean rain and snapping twigs and glorious piles of leaves to kick and shuffle through.
Conkers and craft fairs; the faintest whiff of Cristmas as plans begin to come together, presents begin to be accumulated, but no worries and pressures as anything final is months away.
Nights draw in, and small children accept earlier bedtimes and later waking times, and are all the better for it. Soup is in season, and apples and blackberries; it is a time for gathering in provisions, for making jam and applesauce, and filling the house with the heady scents of harvest bakes. Bread rises at its best, encouraged by the new warmth in the airing cupboard, and absorbing the wild yeasts carried in with the fruit.
Not this year; my apple tree stands in solemn melancholy; a few wizened fruits rotting on the branches, or falling, hard and sour and green, to the earth where thankful insects and slugs are enjoying their own harvest. I have apple envy; my neighbours have no oxen, but I covet their fruit. They have the best harvest in years, but appear content to leave it where it falls. Sadly, it doesn't fall my way.
Inside, I feel the need to nest. Spring cleaning doesn't appeal to me, but an annual Autumnal shedding of the excesses, pruning the clutter, and generally putting the rest to rights satisfies something deep within my soul.
And then there is the urge to escape, to take a last run towards the sun before welcoming my velvet curtains and flickering candlelight. And so we head off; to Tenby as last year and several years before that, or to Florida as we shall next week, and did six years ago; an early 18th Birthday celebration for Goldie.
September is salvation; sighs of relief, a settling back into routine. October is the preparation for Winter; looking forward with pleasure for the good things to come, and looking back with thanksgiving for all which has been.
January always seems to me to be the wrong time to start a new year. September would perhaps be more logical, but it takes me a month or so to get myself together after the summer. Perhaps because October always includes tLP's letterbox, perhaps because it is when I finally find myself with thinking space, October is usually when I can sit down and start to think about the year ahead. It's the month when I might actually begin to know what I am doing more than up to the end of the week. And it is, sadly, usually the time when I realise I have once again left it too late to start an Autumn runner for the table. Thankfully, Autumnal soup and gingerbread and pumpkins require no such decoration.
So October is a month where I can take stock of things around me. A time where I see the cobwebs and the cracks, and resolve to redecorate and reorganise. I found a house to do list last week from October 2008. I have, finally, replaced the boiler. But the other items remain untouched. Taking stock does not, sadly, automatically equate to taking action.
Beautiful sunsets and crackly mornings. And all too often crackly Mog too - it's not generally her best month. But I can't help feeling its a month when everything around us is holding its collective breath, waiting for the winter that is to come.