Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Autumn days and chocolate buttons

Autumn, at its best when days are dry and cold and bright, can throw some truly nasty weather at you. The light rain forecast for this morning turned into a lengthy downpour so heavy that the water somehow managed to flow back along the underside of my hat brim before encountering a brow furrowed against the elements, at which impenetrable barrier it abruptly turned course and proceeded to flow down my face. Puddles formed inside my boots as rivulets of rain coursed down my legs, almost making me regret this morning’s selection of shorts over long trousers, although my prepatellar bursitis – a knee affliction common to plumbers, housemaids, carpet fitters and apparently gardeners – continued to approve of the choice (the stretched fabric of a longer leg when kneeling down causes increased pressure on the lump above the knee; annoying rather than painful). I came home briefly at lunch to walk Bill, threw my sodden clothes into the dryer, and promptly managed to melt all the buttons. I can only conclude that they had been manufactured from chocolate, leaving me nursing a sense of regret at the thought of a missed snack opportunity.

Undeterred by the weather or the state of my clothing – billowing precariously in the chilly wind which had by now replaced the morning’s rain – I continued with the day’s toil, barrowing leaf mold and manure to the borders and coppicing overgrown hazels in the woodland area, all the while thankful for the capacity of the lawn grasses to survive a thorough muddy trampling.

It was gloomy and muddy and damp and cold – so far from the ideal autumn day I carry with me in my head. And while it may have been the frisson caused by the knowledge that at any moment a freak gust of wind could overpower the last remaining fastenings on my shorts and see me chasing my dignity across the rose garden, I think it is more the raw and elemental quality of the days at this time of year that makes me feel particularly present in the moment, particularly alive. I snapped a few hasty pictures on my phone on one trip back from the bonfire in an attempt to capture something of the feeling. Some are even in focus.

So here’s to autumn days, whatever the weather. And here’s to long autumn evenings by the fire, sewing on buttons.

Some elements of this composition are in focus. Just not the ones you’d expect.
Ivy stems on oak trunk