There is a tree at the bottom of our garden that gives perfect shade in summer. It is where we go, trailing dogs and blankets and grandchildren, to escape the midday sun. This year in particular, we could still be found there in late September enjoying the garden as the first leaves begin to fall and the sun bleeds away in to a rich, flame-red sky.
But now, the clocks are about to go back and our shady sanctuary is covered in a canopy of apricot and yellow. The ground is wet and there are damsons nestling like jewels in the long grass. Back in the nineteenth century these little fruits were sent to the cotton mills for their rich, plum-coloured dye and I too have found inspiration in this rich, restorative colour. There are touches of it in many of my soft-furnishing and fabrics. I think it brings such warmth to a room, welcoming you in like an outstretched hand.
In Northern countries like ours, there is a deep imperative to prepare for Winter. We take great pleasure in this ritual, of gathering up and preserving: dahlias for the kitchen table, berries for jam, logs for the fire.
At this time of year, it is the house – and not the garden, that is once again the focus of our love and attention.
October, more than any other month, provokes us to pay attention, to enjoy its rich splendours before they fade away. Already, the blackberries are almost over and up in the eaves, the swallows are preparing to leave. Each passing day is filled with pangs of melancholy. But I take comfort in the knowledge that it won’t be forever. Spring will return and before then, there is the festive season to lighten the darkness.
All the more reason to light candles, and fill the house with warmth and colour!
This is what I love best about the rich variety of the seasons in England: nothing stays the same.