And so it’s goodbye to summer. Goodbye to long days, bumper harvests, warm breezes and light evenings. Today marks the autumnal equinox and the beginning of my favourite season. Cosy knits and blankets, hot chocolate and rosy noses. Crisp mornings, cool air, crunchy leaves! It’s time now to put the garden to sleep for the winter, to cut the pumpkins I’ve been nurturing all season from their stalks and take them in to cure, pull potatoes from the earth and cut back all the garden greenery which has even now begun to fade and lose its colour. I’ll feel its absence keenly, of course. But like this earth around me, preparing every living thing to bed-in and sleep for the winter, I need to hibernate too. And so today and the next few weeks are a period of acceptance that summer has come to an end, and of joyful preparation for the new season to come.
Preparing the garden for winter does take some forethought, and I have much I want yet to accomplish at the allotment, but sadly the planned allotment visit this weekend was thoroughly rained off. So instead I focused on the tasks closer to home and spent a good few hours tidying up my backyard garden. I had already spent some time the weekend before renovating my little thrifted greenhouse; pulling out all my sorry-looking my cucumber plants, scrubbing through all this season’s used pots and brushing down the floor. So I continued in the same vein, mercilessly stripping out the yellowing cucamelons and the spindly, overstretched petunias, sticky with sap. I grubbed around in potato sacks, pulling out little golden nuggets as the rain dripped off my nose and permeated my fleecy jumper. I rearranged pots and planters to keep the pathways clear for winter, emptying out used compost into a sack to take to the allotment. (That might sound like an odd thing to do, but I’ve got some BIG raised beds to fill and even bigger plans afoot regarding planting early spring bulbs, and I need a lot of compost to fill the beds!).
All in all it felt theraputic to be out in the elements and in touch with nature. It was by no means cold so I had not bothered to wear waterproofs. Sometimes it’s nice to feel the rain on your skin. To feel a part of this earth. And it was even more gratifying to see my progress afterwards, from the relative warmth and dry of my kitchen. I rounded off my weekend with the first roast dinner of the winter season, full of the goodness of my own garden. The potatoes I had dug out of the ground that very morning, roasted pumpkin, runner beans, and homemade pumpkin pie to finish (made with my very own quail eggs, a delight which will finish for the winter soon too). I’m writing this now with a candle and fairy lights brightening up the evening darkness, snug as a bug in my new favourite wool cardigan. The season of hygge has begun.