September's here, and we're starting our first ever autumn as islanders. I haven't lived by the sea before, and so in addition to walking in the woods we're still exploring the beaches. Here on Skye heather grows on the grazing land and rocky outcrops near the sand; rose hips and brambles edge the coastal paths.
In the more wooded places we're still looking for fungi, and now we have conkers too. Joe loves collecting them but we've yet to find any really big ones. Fortunately the season has only just started so there's plenty of time to strike lucky with the elusive giant. It'll be out there somewhere...
I'm still trying really hard at the moment to catch up after the summer break. At the weekend we had Joe's birthday party and the same afternoon we welcomed a family visitor to stay. We spent a lovely few days showing them around our part of Skye and the weather was reasonable for the most part. They also left some thoughtful gifts: boxes of miniature daffodil bulbs ready to plant, and a bottle of rhubarb gin.
Things still look very green outside. The leaves are only just starting to turn so it isn't too noticeable just yet, but there are signs of autumn everywhere. The island is becoming just that tiny bit quieter. There are bonfires and purple heather; the late summer wildflowers and umbellifers are seeding and brittle. Thistledown is blowing on dry days. The other night we were visited by a baby toad who had somehow found his way into the house.
The garden is very much a work in progress. The nasturtiums have gone to seed now and most things are finishing. We still have crocosmia blooming orange, and Japanese anemones too. In the 'working' area the sunflowers are just about opening and the geums have had a second flush of blooms. The willow trees along the edge of the stream are slowly turning, and the hazels have lots of clusters of nuts on them. And the front lawn continues to be colonised by those pale, creamy-coloured mushrooms the size of saucers.
Indoors our pursuits are suited to the season. Reading: I've just finished Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vida Vendela, a charity shop find, and am trying not to feel too intimidated by the list of characters in Winifred Holtby's South Riding. I'm kind of waltzing around starting it by instead dipping in and out of The Bloody Chamber (an old favourite) and some Hans Christian Anderson fairytales.
Feeling the need for an autumn project, I ordered a cross stitch pattern from Etsy. It's a Halloween one, folk art style and should keep me suitably busy in the evenings. I haven't done anything like that for years and I love how absorbing needlework can be.
I know this is the time of year when the new TV programmes come on. I haven't watched any of them yet but might take a look at what's on offer. I tend to go for documentaries or crime dramas, unless we manage to find good comedies. Perhaps a film or two for the chilly evenings.
And the evenings are getting chilly. Single-glazed sash windows attract a lot of moisture overnight when it's cold, so wiping them down first thing is part of the daily household routine. But I like to leave the kitchen door open when I'm home so I can hear the stream and the breeze, and the leaves as they skitter in across the floor. I'd rather let the autumn in than shut it out.
So the autumn has arrived. Not with a big, sudden fanfare but instead as it always does: creeping in softly. I appreciate that gradual making itself known. One of the best parts of this season is noticing each little tick of the clock, enjoying - and having the opportunity to enjoy - each little subtle detail as it comes.