Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Indian Summer

October cornflowers

Today, for the first time, there was a real autumn chill and dampness in the air first thing. It was still and grey, and hinted that perhaps our long, lovely summer is drawing to a close.But now I feel as though perhaps I dreamt that. It is warm and sunny again, I've just picked a bunch of cornflowers and paused to admire the pansies and cyclamen in the courtyard bed. And I've been working outside all morning in my shirt sleeves again - gardening, inevitably. Determined to get all my projects finished, my rooted rose cuttings planted, and my bulbs in today, because tomorrow I will be back at Clare's house.

Cyclamen and pansies

I've been helping my friend Clare to create a garden out of the desert of gravel which came with the house. It's great fun, and the hard work has been completely mitigated by the group of like-minded friends who have pitched in with every tool they own and dug, trundled barrows, measured, levelled, painted and heaved alongside me. It's not hugely big, the garden, but it's on a slight incline, so nothing is straightforward, but hey! - after a hard day's work, she has a little patio!
But also a lot of stuff lying around.
And piles of mud.
And sand. And gravel.
And a vast heap of trip-hazards - like wooden stakes and trellis.
Still - I guess it's a start.

I want to get it finished before autumn actually does kick in.
The trouble is, it feels like - what? - late August, early September? Some days feel like July.
It's been one of those blissful summers when time has seemed largely immaterial. The parasol has been up in the courtyard since June, the dogs' sunbathing beds are left out more often than not, and the table outside the backdoor is so much in use, it is covered in clutter.

I haven't caught up with real time yet, but the truth is, we are not far off half-term, and, almost unawares, the Models and I are gently slipping back into our term-time routine. I found myself looking anxiously at the New Girls this morning, trying to gauge how much their infant feathers have grown since yesterday. Not much is the answer, but they are coming - slowly. They will need them soon. I may even have to knit them little pinafores like these dinky ones I saw on Facebook a while ago.

Not my photo or my hens, but a great idea. Thank you, whoever posted it on Facebook

The trouble is, my knitting needles are still full of pole warmer. The one I knitted for Beltra Country Market two years ago has faded to oblivion, turned to a crisp in the teeth of the wind, hail, rain and sun it's been subjected to, and looks decidedly travel-stained from all the passing traffic on the road. However, the new one is nearly finished, and I think there might even be some of the neon orange yarn left over.

The new pole warmer is growing every day

Would the Yah Bird like neon orange, do you think? Jil, our Wwoofer loved it - and looked stunning in her wonderful neon fleece. It was all the rage in Paris too, so you never know. It might be just what the Yah Bird needs to set her up in the world.

Jil and SuperModel at the beach

It's been a great Wwoofing-summer. Apart from the lovely Jil, we had Chloe back for another visit which was wonderful. So lovely to see her again and catch up. She helped knit a bit of the new pole warmer while she was here, and trimmed lots of box hedges, and did a hundred and one other things in the garden. We spent long, lovely, sunny days out there together, chatting, laughing and catching up as we pottered about and weeded the vegetables. We went to a Garden Festival in Galway one glorious Sunday while she was here, and had a great day wandering around Claregalway Castle grounds, surrounded by flowers, food and families enjoying themselves.

Claregalway Garden Festival in July

And there was Marko - and Olivia and Marie Christine. It seems like years ago that they were here, sitting in the Moon Garden knitting, chattering away in Canadian French to each other, interspersed with regular cries of 'Oh-oh! Something weird...' when they'd either dropped a stitch or accidentally created several new ones.

Perhaps it is the end of the summer. It must be or why else would I be looking back over months of memories and sunshine. But it's lovely to have so much to look back on. Paris; several visits to Suffolk to see my parents; the haze of ivory lace and sunshine that was my brother's wedding; the In-Charge's Mega Birthday complete with bunting, balloons and marquees; all the Country Shows we went to, the gardens we visited; our trip to Dublin... Not to mention walks on the beach, the Great Rescue and subsequent Hen Central, SuperModel suddenly starting to grow up, the garden looking the best it's looked for years.

Hens are family, not food. Hens are family, not food. Hens are family... Hens are family...but very tasty NOT food

Actually it will be nice to have a rainy day or two, so that I can sit down and catch up with everything. Look at all the photographs I took and perhaps even record a few of them on these pages for posterity.
But don't get me wrong - I'm not wishing for rain - heaven forbid!
I've still got too much do get done outdoors for that.
I've to finish clearing the bank and planting.
And Clare's garden isn't nearly ready yet. There's a raised bed to raise, an archway to put up, stones to be removed, compost to be hauled, trees to be planted, roses to be put in, bulbs to be bulbed, plants to be positioned, a shed to be painted....

Better scrub that line about a nice rainy day or two.
I am NOT even thinking about rain.