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Halloween and the start of Autumn

I stumbled across a rather lovely poem recently, by A. E. Housman. I won’t write it all here (not today, anyway), but it’s called Loveliest of Trees, and the link will take you to Poem Hunter, where you can read it for yourself. It’s a short poem, about the transient beauty of cherry blossom, and the importance of taking every opportunity to enjoy it while it lasts. It’s so easy to travel through life, always looking to the next thing; wishing the present moment away in our eagerness to experience the future.

The first time I read Housman’s poem, I felt a sense almost like panic; I have already lived so much of my lifetime, and I still feel as though I have such a lot of living to do; so much that I want to squeeze into the years that I have left! Once the panic subsided, I felt grateful for the reminder that life is not long enough to sleepwalk through any of it. Every moment is so precious, and I want to notice the things around me, taking advantage of opportunities, people, places, special occasions.

As I’m sure you can imagine, that’s easier said than done. My body is thoroughly ungrateful and disinterested, so there’s a lot of negotiation to be done, and compromises to be made about how much fun I’m allowed to have. I want to celebrate now in a memorable way – that will be remembered, even if it’s as simple as toasting crumpets by the fire, having a film night, or listening to songs together and telling the stories associated with each piece of music. I’ve been really glad to have been given the opportunity to make things for people that I love – mostly cake, but also handmade gifts. Making things is when I feel most like ‘me’ – it’s a way of reminding myself or proving to myself that, although this condition is causing progressive and irreparable damage to my body, I am still here, inside it. I hope that the legacy of the things that I’ve made will live longer than the rest of me, and in the meantime I cling to the photographs, handwritten recipes, annotated knitting patterns, as ‘proof’ that I contribute something; my little part of time and space is different because I’m in it.

I’ve written, and spoken to many of you recently, about my frustration at having to spend so much time inside the house (most of it within the same room, even), the feeling of missing out, but also about the realisation that if I can’t go out to do fun things, the fun things must come to me!

I’ve been having such a great time decorating for autumn, planning meals, playlists, watching films and TV, and enjoying the change of season. It’s been pretty mild, but with cold evenings. Enough to justify lighting the fire, changing to the thickest, fluffiest duvet, and eating warming foods, heavy with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cumin and ginger. I have so much to write about our autumnal food adventures, especially the spiced pumpkin doughnuts, but you’ll have to wait a little longer for that because I want to tell you about my decorations!

Cutting back some plants in the garden provided enough springy twigs to make a wreath, which currently still has leaves (ivy, wisteria, grape and philadelphus), but once the leaves have fallen, I plan to decorate the wreath for the next calendar event.

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I soaked the branches in the bath for a few days. A few hours would have been fine to soften them enough to bend them into a wreath shape, but I ran out of energy, and they had almost a week in the bath! Cocoa the Fluffy was so interested, and almost ended up in the bath so many times!

The climbing rose in the garden has just flowered again. I left most of the flowers, but brought just one into the house, along with a few leaves, to decorate the dining table. In a Shiraz glass with a little bit of water, the arrangement lasted for over a week, and it made me happy every single time I looked at it!

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Currently we’re doing Halloween. There are spiders in the flower arrangements, bats at the windows, and a pumpkin at the window, to show trick-or-treaters that they’re welcome here.

The rose from the garden finally died, so I bought these gorgeously colourful and flamboyant flowers from the shop on our road. I just love them, and couldn’t resist the baby pumpkins. I hope they’ll last until Thanksgiving, and would gladly include them in my Christmas decorations if they live long enough!

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As well as the baby pumpkins, we have two large pumpkins this year. I don’t usually carve them, as it’s hard on my hands/wrists/elbows/shoulders/neck, but I couldn’t resist this year. I used a very small, very sharp craft knife and a power drill. Drilling into pumpkin is uniquely satisfying!

Here is the pumpkin before the drilling . Say hello to Tinkerbell:

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Here is Tinkerbell again, after the drilling, with a shower of fairy dust:

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I loved carving this, and am so excited to show you! Visitors are always welcome, if you want to see it for yourself!

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