Is it autumn yet?

I have always loved September. It might help that it is my birthday month. It might also be because I was a child who liked school and, even though I had loved the summer holiday, I also loved the buying of the new pencil case, the new pencils and rubbers, the folding back of the stiff cover of an exercise book to reveal a pristine sheet of clean paper, smelling of promise.

October is OK. There is still a chance of a day filled with the golden light and long shadows of an Indian summer. The only problem with October is that it is followed by November when the clocks have gone back and the days are grey with wind and rain and the light has all gone by mid afternoon and I have to work hard at shedding the sense of gloom and focussing on the light and warmth of Christmas to distract me from the grievous loss of my outside life.

So I have mixed feeling about autumn. Is it beautiful, with flowers still glowing and crops thronging the kitchen?

Or is it full of sadness, full of the loss of summer? Or perhaps, it is both and the trick is to enjoy the beauty and let the coming of winter wait. Or even to remind myself that I love winter too in its way, love fires and frosts and snow and snowdrops and the coming of spring. It is such a cliche that we should live in the moment but I at least find it extraordinarily hard to do with plans and lists and diaries stretching out into the future so that one eye is always on tomorrow. Gardening helps I think because you need to look at what you are growing and see it properly and you can't do that with your head full of what is to come. It clears your mind. Living in the country helps too, especially somewhere as beautiful as this part of Wales. There is so much to see which stills the relentless demanding clamour of the day after tomorrow. It is a crime not to be in the moment out here with the heather on the hills and the leaves still on the trees.

Today I learnt of a project called heather and hillforts. I know the Clwydians are covered in heather because I can see it every day from my windows and when I am gardening. I know the range has a number of bronze and iron age hillforts because I have walked them all and climbed the ramparts. Yet somehow it had passed me by altogether that there is a project going on right now to protect the wildlife and archaeology of this area. We have Wales's largest population of black grouse and the largest number of hillforts in one area in Britain. I am fascinated by the wildlife outside my door and by the hillforts which crown the ridge which is my skyline. Time to stop thinking my life away and to get up there on the hills again.


  1. Well happy September birthday to you my dear, actually I don't mind November as that's my birth month even if the Welsh word has such gruesome connotations. Anyway, this year that September excitment seems to have passed me by a little bit - perhaps because I've been enjoying the late sunshine, but I do understand that new term feeling.

  2. Yes b'day wishes from me too!
    I love this time of year see it as a new beginning not an ending.
    Lovely post.

  3. I can relate: I love fall, but it means winter is near. And I love living in the country, also.
    Those hill forts interest me, I would appreciate a post or some pics of them!

  4. It's my friend who counts and observes the grouse, you describe the seasons and countryside beautifully.

  5. Sept and Oct are beautiful months. I like your white? pumpkin? or whatever it is - good photo.

  6. I love September, husband's a September baby too. The countryside always takes on a spender in autumn with the fruits & berries dripping from the trees and hedgerows.

  7. Just recovering from a weekend of September bithdays. Husband and eldests, phew.

    I went walking in the local woods for only the second time on my own today, the littlest has started school. I came round one corner to the wonderful site of a black stag and a doe. I also saw, only heard in the past , a woodpecker.

    I had been a little maudling about seeing the last one off to school but I can see me starting to look at September in a whole new way in the future.

  8. A wonderful post, everything you say brings forth a gentle nod and even a little sigh from this reader.
    Carpe diem with your eyes wide open and a receptive mind, heart and soul.
    And a happy birthday whenever it falls.

  9. Chris - November in Welsh is gruesome? need to go away and look it up!
    CK - i like the idea of September as a new beginning.
    Dimple - the hillforts link takes you to a really interesting site. I will try to do a post of my own roaming about on them too sometime!
    Sally - thanks, I write about what I love! Impressed by the idea of a job as a grouse counter.

  10. Faith - the little squash has lost its label! It might be hooligan but I think they are bigger and greener.
    Muddy - September is birthday month in our family, there are five of us with September dates. Expensive!
    Anna - I am glad to know you have enjoyed your time to yourself. It is a real luxury and should be savoured.
    Friko - thank you. I think we are of a mind!

  11. My youngest recently spent days on the Stiperstones counting grouse for Natural England - how they manage not to count the same ones twice is beyond me! Hope you have a lovely birthday.

  12. As you probably know - I love Autumn, and I think it is the "bittersweet" emotion of Autumn that (bizarrely) I quite enjoy.

    I totally relate to the buying of stationary for the new school year and I think I still do my year from September round to August.

    Lovely and evocative post Elizabeth.

  13. Ya, what about November? That is my birth month. Happy Birthday to you. I love fall too. In fact I like living in an area where we have changing of the seasons. I hate to see my flowers go but always next year.

  14. Actually, we're getting our summer in September. Summer this year was a prolonged version of spring. There is no logic to it, as far as I an determine.

    In our part of the world we have five seasons:
    1. Almost winter
    2. Winter
    3. Still winter
    4. Getting nicer
    5. Road construction.

    We're rapidly approaching the end of "Road construction" season. Hope you have a delightful rest of September and October. And who knows; November may defy expectations.

  15. Happy birthday Elizabeth. I like September very much as we generally get abetter weather here than in summer, but overlaid with golden light. We harvested our one tiny squash and are now curing it. I find the bit after Christmas the hardest part of the year, though I seem to be better at it now I have the business as I have to look to spring almost straight away! x

  16. This is very apt Elizabeth. I was only thinking yesterday about how much I love this time of year - I love harvest festival time at school and church, watching the farmers finishing the harvest, all the changing colours, getting out my warmer clothes from the loft, the robin shrilling out of the garden the whole day long.

    I know I shouldn't be happy when things are dying, but it is rather beautiful.

    Happy birthday to you


  17. I think if we'd had something more of a summer I wouldn't feel so cheated at the thought of autumn. I do like our seasons though and the changing landscapes that each brings in turn.

  18. Happy birthday, but you'll not convince me about autumn! Nice try, though.

  19. October is sad in that it does sound the death knell on garden season for a lot of us. We have to content ourselves then with planning for next year and hoping not to make the same mistakes again. Such is life. (What's the story on that white pumpkin?;-)

  20. Sbs - yes, I am always a bit puzzled by how you do the counting.
    Karen - I knew you were a fan of autumn. I am coming round to it!
    QMM - I do agree about the seasons. I would hate to live somewhere without the changing landscape.
    Rob - ah yes, we have friends in Newfoundland who told us that about their seasons!
    Pip - I find the time after Christmas hardest too, particularly February where winter seems to have been going on for ever.
    BSM - ah, like Karen you are a true autumn lover. I am just an apprentice.
    Mountainear - I think you are right. Autumn is not so bad if you have had a long hot summer, although this long, warm autumn is pretty good I suppose.
    Edward - I am working on loving autumn but I see you are not a convert.
    Avis - the squash is one I can't identify. The ones which grow at the edge of the plant are pale yellow and gold. The ones which are right in the middle under the leaves are white like this one. Lovely isn't it?

  21. Ah! I wonder if you are a Libran - well balanced and all that - but both September and October are lovely months. Do hope you'll blog about the hill forts. If you measure the distances between them and you find that the distances on a 1 in 50,000 OS map are 5 or 10 or 20 centimetres, then they are probably Neolithic sites adopted by the Iron Age folk. Look at distances to medieval churches and hilltops, coastal points as well.

  22. A fellow Libran? Happy Birthday for whichever September day is yours.
    I love Autumn but am starting to feel mournful about the kitchen garden, need to see if I can buy more veg plants to get me through the winter. The sight of onions and garlic is not enough - I need glaucous leaves and coloured stems too.

  23. When I lived in Michigan, I always loved September and the turning of the leaves. Now that I live in New Zealand, September means spring! There's nothing I know that keeps you on your toes than to move to the bottom of the planet... I've grown to love Christmas in summer, but Easter in fall is a very weird thing indeed.

  24. new visitor here, by way of MoonOverMartinborough! I, too, have always loved autumn...mostly as a way of delaying the grey drizzle of winter!

  25. I know what you mean. I went for a late summer walk today into our gorgeous Dorset countryside. Saw buzzards, kestrels, foxes and numerous insects - and felt the sun on my face & springy grass under foot. I'm dreading winter... but desperately trying to enjoy September while the sun shines!

  26. Fennie - now I need to know, why do I have to measure things? Tell me!
    Kitty - our winter gardening staple veg are leeks. They grow really well here, look good and I like eating them.
    MOM - welcome, it is great to have new visitors. I used to live in New Zealand when I was a teenager, fabulous country. Always struggled with hot Christmases though.
    AX - welcome to you too. Autumn is a strange one for me. I have brought myself to love it but just can't manage to lose the chill of winter behind it.
    UE - I think your response is very like mine. I do love autumn now but it does mean that the dank and cold is just round the corner.


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