Autumn comes early in the Aire Valley. Just as spring and summer start a month later the autumn arrives in mid August.
You can smell the start of decay in the gardens not helped by the ubiquitous overnight rain and heavy morning dew.
As you look across the valley from the park into Trench Wood the tops of the trees are beginning to turn colour.
This morning is humid and warm but the valley is shrouded in mist and the tops of the hills aren’t visible.
Welcome to the autumn – the season of mist and mellow fruitfulness.
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Another benefit of retirement. My darling girl Lottie. Snuggled with Mr Rabbit on the bed in the sunshine.
I had dreamt of what retirement would be. Would I be a powerhouse of volunteering, would I become a lady who lunched, would I rise at daybreak and spend my days in the garden, would I start new hobbies, rekindle old interests, read! Well, I can honestly say that it is all those things and much much more. I have worked since I was fifteen years old and did my forty-seven years so please don’t tell me my state pension is a ‘benefit’. I’m now enjoying all those years of hard work. May they continue for many years to come.
The photo is of a quilt top I’m working on for a secret present shhh. The pattern is Miss Butterfly by Janet Clare.
This is the first block of six that will go towards making a double bed quilt for my daughter. It’s made using the Blue Barn range of fabric from Moda.
I have discovered that traveling at night, well in the early hours, is the best way to get from Yorkshire to London and back again.
By leaving between 2am and 4am the M1 is delightfully quiet with very few cars and lorries. A trip that can take five hours for a trouble free daytime journey can be reduced to 4 hours of empty road, easy overtaking and stress free driving as it once must have been before the roads became so congested.
Traveling this way means I don’t need to stop so I can’t describe the services at night. I admit I wouldn’t be that keen on stopping as the sight of a ‘getting on in years’ solitary female might raise a few eyebrows though I doubt I would have any problems. However, it is the fact that I can travel 250 miles without stopping that appeals.
So there are no amusing anecdotes about night time travel, no wry observations, just the pleasure of a long journey made easier by the lack of traffic that I wanted to share and to act as a reminder to myself that driving at night is not difficult and so much better than the nose to tail congestion of daytime motoring.
It’s the early hours of the morning here in Baildon, West Yorkshire and I’m sitting in bed listening to the wind driving the rain against the bedroom window. I used to think we had weather in London but here it is magnified, more intense, more defined, just more of it.
When I look across the garden at the trees on the bank in Midgeley Woods I can see the uppermost leaves starting to change colour yet the garden is still fecund and full of life. In the south it would be looking tired and ready to be put to bed for the year, not because the weather is any colder but because it would have given up the fight against the heat and drought, the artificial watering to keep it alive. Here spring then summer come late but the garden continues well into the autumn with plants coming into flower for the second time or flowering first time round. Okay, it’s been particularly mild for September but I have noticed this in other years since I have been here.
And when will the first frosts arrive? Well not for a few days at least according to the five day forecast. Only then will I change my containers from the summer to the winter bedding display. The greenhouse is registering temperatures in the upper twenties and not dropping below ten at night. The pelargoniums are still in full flower looking fresh and green if a bit top heavy and this is a problem with the autumn winds that have arrived today.
I will just have to get my head around the way the seasons start and finish later being content to not rush the winter in until it is ready. But it’s October in a few days and the nights are already longer than the days. It won’t be long before the earth will be iron hard with frost.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – I embrace you.
It’s funny how old hurts from years ago can suddenly creep up on you and you experience part of the old pain you felt then. I’ve just been reading the Proverbs 31 devotional for today about how the author had no friends in high school and didn’t attend the end of year prom because she had no one to go with. She had given her life to Christ and stopped attending and doing activities that were at odds with her new found faith and one by one her old friends fell by the wayside.
I remember, when I was around 13 or 14, it was the year of the school skiing trip. All my friends went on the trip but we were a poor family and my going was dismissed out of hand. I wonder now if there had been some discussion and explanation of the situation I would have coped better but I remember being very bitter to the extent that I resented my mum for being a stay at home mum as I reasoned, if she worked as my friends’ mothers did, I would have been able to go. The trip was planned for the second week of the Christmas school holiday so when I went back after the break it was all my friends could talk about. Instead of being happy for them and listening to the stories of their adventures, I chose to be bitter and twisted and cut myself off from them feeling no longer part of the group. My choice, not theirs. I’m sure they would have been more than happy to chat to me about what they had done and in time the chatter would have moved on and I would still have been part of the group.
I can trace the collapse of my school career to this time as I then lost complete interest in my school life and started hanging out with the naughty kids, bunking off and not focussing on my school work. Now don’t feel sorry for me. None of this was done to me – I did it to myself. I could have been magnanimous but instead chose to let that feeling of left outness colour the rest of my life until I knew Christ and felt that I belonged again. I am once more secure in this world as a child of Christ.
Around the same time as this I had my first encounter with people of faith but I chose to walk away. How different my life would have been if I had stayed.
Lord, thank you that you never gave up on me and I can cheerfully support others going off on adventures that I could never afford, secure in the knowledge that I am special in your eyes and am truly blessed in so many ways.
This is my first attempt at a mug rug and I now realise that, though I like other people’s free motion embroidery, I don’t like my attempts. Why I should think I could draw with a sewing machine when I can’t even drawer with a pencil is completely beyond me! I also don’t like the bunny facing out and the next one I make he will be on the other side of the rug facing in.
I went to Barleycrafts today and bought a mug rug book with lovely ideas and applique patterns. I’ve also just pinned a lovely design on Pinterest which includes mug cosies too. I bought some nice spring fat quarters to make some more as Easter gifts.
It’s been very cold here today but I still walked to my slimming group after walking Lottie round the park for half an hour. I’d lost another 1lb which makes 61/2 lbs since the week before Christmas so rather pleased I am getting a grip.
Enough waffle for now – off to phone my mum.
In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Christina Georgina Rossetti (5 December 1830 – 29 December 1894)
In the bleak mid winter – well, I suppose if you take the winter months as December through to February we are mid way now. This is the first verse of the poem that most know as a Christmas carol but the poet didn’t write it with that in mind. I think this reminds us of how hard winters once were and how difficult life could be. For some it was their very survival that was in jeopardy.
I remember the winter of 1962/63 well when the temperature remained below freezing for weeks on end. We had no heating other than a coal fire in the main room and a paraffin heater that smelt more than it gave out warmth. Getting up in the morning was a trial as it was so cold in the bedroom but once you were in the bathroom the little electric wall heater took the chill off the room. At least by then we had an indoor toilet though winters didn’t seem so cold in London. The Wimbledon house was an old Victorian terrace whereas the house we moved to was brand new and still drying out I think. We were very poor and there wasn’t much money for extras which meant I trudged through the snow to school in shoes as boots were too expensive.
I love the winter now as I can choose to go out or spend the day indoors. I had hoped the winters up here would be frosty at the least and preferably snowy but this year all we have had is incessant rain and the temperatures have been mild. Luckily we were not affected by the floods but many locally were and it was all rather unsettling.
Years ago no-one traveled anywhere in the winter time as the roads were either a quagmire or rutted with the cold. People watched their dwindling food supplies and prayed they would last until the first new crops. Few vegetables could be harvested in the winter as the old varieties didn’t stand up to the cold in the way they do now.
I’m not sure why I have started this – I don’t intend to write daily or to share it with anyone. I can’t write a normal diary as my hands won’t hold a pen properly anymore and even I can’t read my writing. I will finish with another lovely winter poem.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)