I have (with permission) borrowed the idea for a ‘Tuesday Ten’ from Sally. She has made some really interesting lists and I fancied having a go.
I love spring and summer. I adore warm weather, the long evenings, all the things that happen in the garden. I love picnics and eating outside. I love going for a walk without taking a cardigan, much less a jacket. I love drying washing on the line. I love salads. So I often look on the end of summer as a sad thing, and watch the days getting shorter with some trepidation.
Over the last couple of weeks, autumn has gradually crept upon us. Even on warm, sunny days there’s been a crispness in the air. We’ve had misty mornings and dew on the spiders’ webs. Haws and rosehips have appeared in the hedgerows. And our cat Trixie, who spends every fine day and warm night outside, has started appearing in the house.
So, to make myself more reconciled to the passing of summer, I am going to think of ten things I like about autumn.
1. Making chutney. I like making jam, too – but making autumn preserves is nicer than boiling up jam in a hot kitchen that’s full of flies and wasps. There’s something really warming and autumnal about the smell of onions, apples, spices and vinegar that makes the kitchen smell really cosy.
2. Misty mornings. The effects of the light are more subtle in spring and autumn, and the weaker sunlight shining through early morning mist (and the catch I get in my throat when I go outside) is beautiful.
3. Buying bulbs. We have lots of plans for the garden over the next year or so (basically, we’re going to dig everything up and start again) so there’s not much scope for planting bulbs in the beds. But there are still pots and tubs. And there are still bulbs to force for Christmas. Our local supermarket had lots of bulbs on special offer, so I have species tulips, standard tulips, grape hyacinths, daffs and narcissus, anemones and crocuses. The daffs and narcissus are going to be planted in a drift by the path. The tulips and grape hyacinths are destined for tubs by the kitchen door. And the anemones and crocuses will be forced for Christmas. This week, I shall also order some of the big scented hyacinths (which I adore) and some Paperwhite narcissus. There is something lovely about planning for spring, and also about having pools of scented spring brightness in the house in the depth of winter.
4. Scarves. I like scarves and I have lots of them, and it’s nice to be able to get them out and wear them again. One of the things I like about knitting is being able to have scarves exactly as I want them. The first thing I ever knitted was a ribbed scarf that was quite narrow, but over six feet long, so it could wrap round and round my neck (so it wouldn’t slip off) without stifling me. I also have a very cute sparkly scarf I knitted last winter, and of course I have my new Wicked Witch scarf for this winter.
5. Butternut squash are in season. Yummy. I love butternut squash, especially roasted with chilli and garlic and made into soup.
6. I love the long summer evenings outside, but winter means evenings in front of the fire, and a chance to catch up on some knitting and make a dent in the stack of unwatched DVDs.
7. It’s the Little Girl’s birthday soon, which is quite exciting. The rest of the family have our birthdays in the first third of the year, so I’m quite looking forward having an excuse for an autumn celebration.
8. Looking through my books to decide what I’m going to make and cook for Christmas. I know it seems mad but you need to force bulbs early, and collect pine cones before they get wet (pine cones make fantastic kindling and smell divine). I also like borrowing Christmas craft books from the library – you know, the ones with instructions on how to make your own everything and loads of totally over the top bonkersness which would have you committed by your suffering family if you did it all – and weeding out the really good, simple ideas.
9. In a similar vein, I also enjoy the Christmas knitting magazines, and in particular, threatening to knit a festive sweater for Mr SowandSew and making him wear it. I never would actually knit one (I have precious little knitting time and I wouldn’t waste it). But waving the pictures of reindeer jumpers at him and watching the resulting horrified facial expression is an annual joy.
10. Satsumas. Both the children adore satsumas, and will choose them over any other treat. (We know, we’ve offered them a choice of satsumas or biscuits and the satsumas win every time.) I love them too, and can eat piles of them. And then I dry the skins on top of the woodburner, which makes the living room smell all warm and citrussy. And the skins make great firelighters.
And having written all that, I feel the need for a cup of hot chocolate.