Chasing Autumn

Chasing Autumn

It’s coming, autumn. My favourite time of the year. There are so many things which appeal to me about it: the colours, the smells, the celebrations, the food, the idea of gathering in. The TV.

The signs appear in late August here. We have flax-coloured grasses along the roadsides, etched over with the dark umber of umbellifers gone to seed and punctuated with dark stems of knapweed. Rich yellow ragwort and violet heather climb the steep verges, and bright berries light up the rowans. The trees are starting, very subtly, to turn.

Yesterday I drove the long journey into town. The silver-green gorse bushes lining the roadsides were completely covered in spider’s webs, each one beaded with tiny droplets of dew. It was an ethereal sight and I made a mental note to go out one morning with my camera to try and capture it.

I actively seek out autumn. I go to the wooded part of Skeabost to walk amongst the deciduous trees and spot berries and toadstools. Joe loves the river there; after the rain, it crashes and roars and forms swirling pools along the banks. We check the progress of the conkers (not too many this year but we have other options, the locations of which are top secret).

There are only three weeks left until the castle gardens close for the year, so we make the most of them too.

At home I’ve been moving my printroom upstairs, to the guest accommodation above the kitchen. Sounds pretty fancy- it really isn’t. But it has a bathroom with running water, and a big cupboard for storing tools and paper and inks. The etching press is now up there along with its table and my desk. There’s still more to do, but it means we can sort out the ‘snug’ now it’s empty again. There’s a worrying smell of damp coming from God knows where so it’s going to be a stripping-back job.

But it will eventually become a cosy family room with low bookshelves and maybe a wood burning stove. I’m looking forward to that. The faffing bit, anyway. Arranging stuff.

I’ve got a workshop or two in the pipeline, and have been doing a lot of writing. I’ve also got an order for more prints and journals too. While Joe’s at school I get on with it, and have a bit of a routine. Cups of tea, music (sweeping film soundtracks - this idea came from Instagram, from Gemma’s lovely account - and I’m currently playing Rachel Portman’s music from The Cider House Rules). I try and walk to school at 3pm, or get out for a little meander between rain showers.

I’ve been struggling (despite the huge reading pile by the bed) to find a book I can get along with. That’s the deal with libraries; sometimes you find something fantastic and sometimes not so much. But I’ve managed to get hold of another David Sedaris book: Theft by Finding, and a novel by Elizabeth Jane Howard called Falling. I’m fancying Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca again - my mum’s old copy - and the autumn issues of Country Living magazine are making me want to fill the house with dahlias and gourds.

I’m looking forward to a new social at the library on Thursday evenings: the Magazine Group. We thought it up a while ago when I was teaching a lino printing workshop there. We have a cosy area up on the mezzanine, and there will be tea (and cake?), and people come along with back copies of magazines. We can swap them around and have a flip through and a laugh. I think the magazines are mostly lifestyle type things: interiors, crafts etc. I love magazines. LOVE them.

There are early autumn jobs to do at home, too: hand-washing all the woollen gloves, hats and scarves (and hanging them out on the line on a sunny day). Tidying up the garden. Having a bonfire to get rid of the piles of branches along the edge of the drive. Getting the blankets out of the cupboard. Reading up on houseplant care during the colder months. Making something (jams? pies? crumbles?) with the gooseberries and rhubarb in the freezer before going blackberry picking.

And work. Printmaking, workshop planning. Because there’s a fortnight’s half term holiday in October. Maybe we’ll use that time to get ready for Halloween. It’s quite a celebratory night here in the village. But there’s a lot of early autumn to savour before then. And it’s time for jumpers and brightly coloured tights. The hot chocolate imbibing started quite a while ago, if I’m honest…