I do love this time of year. Thistledown blowing through the fields, a hint of yellow creeping into the trees (the horse chestnuts are often the first to succumb to this shift) and the anticipation of my favourite season of all.
Spiders everywhere, too - and cobwebs. A few mornings have been chilly enough that we've been able to see our breath, particularly early on. But I suspect we may be in for an Indian summer. August has been spectacularly wet, windy and even stormy. The thunder woke me the other night (it sounded truly cataclysmic) and the sky was illuminated by lightning.
Of course, it takes much more than that to wake a four-year-old boy who sleeps deeply. It's all extremes with Joe: waking hours are spent racing around, exploring and asking endless questions. The quality of his sleep (ten hours and upwards every night) is something I can only dream about...
We've been adventuring again. Into the woods, through the river, playing with friends on their village green. Much tree-climbing and frog-spotting. And Joe's newest favourite pursuit: uprooting Himalayan balsam. A pretty futile thing to do considering how widespread it is, and the exploding nature of the seed pods, but they do have a very shallow root and there's something extremely satisfying about pulling up a huge, triffid-like stem with very little effort.
The local park have signs dotted about asking people to help in their balsam blitz. Like I said, a losing battle but fun nonetheless.
So much of our part of the world is coloured by the pinks and lilacs of the balsam right now. You have to look that bit harder to spot the native signs of autumn hiding behind it: hawthorn berries darkening, cobnuts swelling. But there's a lot of amethyst and sulphur about too.
Knapweed, teasels, the first yellowing leaves, vetch, cat's ear. Rosebay Willowherb and ragwort.
Of course, it's a bit different in the woods. There are still plenty of ferns to collect. Toadstools are adorning the dead trees. Brambles are almost ready to pick, but not quite (although we did manage to find a few of the last raspberries, enough to eat as we passed by).
We've been out in the garden too. Tidying, cutting back. Deadheading and pulling up any spent annuals. Marvelling at the butterfly-smothered buddleia which grows over the fence from next door.
The meadow behind the house is now pale yellow in colour. The clumps of thistles are almost all fluffily seeding but still just colourful enough to attract bees and yet more butterflies. On warm days we can hear the crickets as we sit and eat ice lollies.
The teasel has grown into a monster, spreading a good two metres across and smothering everything beneath. So last week I put on some thick gloves and pruned it right back. The stems and heads are now bunched and hanging upside down, drying in the shed. Although I did fill an old green vase with some too.
The mantelpiece is looking decidedly seasonal now; teasels on one side, dried stems and seeds and rust-coloured ferns on the other. And a scented candle. Joe chose it: Caramel Pumpkin. Not what I'd usually go for but it actually smells like warm maple syrup.
The dresser has a bit of late-summer going on as well: pots of dried hydrangea flowers. I've been looking at simple twig wreaths on Pinterest, so perhaps I'll have a go at making one (having just unearthed a forgotten reel of wire from the bottom of an empty plant pot).
I'm gradually bringing in my pelargoniums and geraniums. The delicate, scented-leaf varieties have been happy outside and all the cuttings have taken off, bushing out and flowering. I gave a few pots to a friend in return for providing lunch for us last week (three demanding boys, two grown-ups and all of us having something different - it was the least I could do) and the rest are slowly making their way onto the windowsills in the house.
It's common knowledge amongst friends and family now that we're putting the house up for sale in a few weeks. The weather hasn't been kind, so Jay's made slow progress in painting the gable end (note: think very carefully before painting a large area of pebble dash - it's a nightmare to cover) but we're almost there. After that we just need to do a few touch-ups inside and it'll be time to get a valuation.
We're still making preparations as usual though: there are school shoes to buy, uniform items to replenish and it's Joe's birthday in just over a week. Exciting times. Actually, putting it down here in a post helps get things into proportion. We had a bit of a rubbish day yesterday as my car died whilst we were out and about. A boot full of the week's shopping warming up nicely, heavy showers and an almost dead phone battery didn't help.
But we made lemonade. Joe had an impromptu picnic in the driver's seat. The AA man was lovely and arrived within minutes. He got my car started (temporarily) then followed us home to drop off said shopping and escorted us to the garage, who offered to work overtime to get me back on the road by Monday. And much to Joe's delight we caught the bus - which turned up just as we got to the stop - back to the house.
Even a dead starter motor and a garage bill hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for what's around the corner. Autumn and adventures and - fingers crossed - pastures new.