Saturday, 27 September 2008

Autumn days

The Autumn season is now apparent in the turning of the leaves from green to wonderful shades of orange and brown. It's a time of year that I really enjoy with the misty mornings followed by sunny days a cool nights. Time to put away the T-shirts and get the lighter jerseys and sweaters out of the cupboard. Time also to make preparations for the winter to come.

Like my colleague on Long Island, I have started to get things ready. The wooden table on the patio has been scrubbed down and the chairs will shortly be stacked and covered. I have ordered, and had delivered, enough coal to fill the bunker (and that should last me for several years since I only light an open fire on occasion and I last ordered the same amount in 2003!), and next week I need to put in an order for heating oil with the local village "consortium". The chimneys will be swept next month, and I am slowly putting various tins of food away in the pantry. With predictions of a hard winter, and the possibility of power cuts, I shall sort out the lanterns and make sure I have several bottles of lamp oil. At least I won't run short of candles since I keep supplies for all the churches. And if the electric hob and oven aren't available, I shall light the brick barbecue that was built on the patio last year.

In many ways, these preparations keep us in touch with nature. When I lived in a town I rarely gave a thought to the coming winter, and I certainly didn't buy in extra food for storage. In this rural setting, although the town is only three miles away, it somehow seems both prudent and right. It's an Autumn task. So as I enjoy the wonderful colours of the tress, the gleam of conkers on the ground spilling out of their spiny cases as they are dislodged by the wind from the horse-chestnut trees, the distinctive smell of the country as the mist rises, and the way that distant sounds travel across the bare fields, I shall ensure that my nest is secure against the storms to come, and that I have provision to sustain both body and soul. Part of that will be given by the huge crop of apples this year. I do nothing to the trees, and still they flourish. Large unmarked fruit this time, despite, or maybe because of, the wet summer we've had. Whatever the reason, I, and the horses opposite, will enjoy them.

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