I’ve fallen behind a little on writing recently, mainly because I finished my Masters on the first of September and since then I’ve fallen into a slight siesta. I go to work every day as usual, but the evenings and weekends have been filled with all the things I wanted to do that were deprioritised by twelve thousand words on the novels of Knut Hamsun, a Norwegian writer who, despite his fascist tendencies, wrote some rather beautiful stories about man and nature. These activities have mainly consisted of making jam and reading Harry Potter, but I feel it’s finally time to crack back on with the true passion of my life: writing.
It’s six o’clock on a Thursday evening, and I’m staying late at work to co-ordinate one of the archaeological lectures I’ve been organising all year. This one is entitled ‘Who are the Britons?’, and will explore the history of British people throughout the last few thousand years. Today is also the Autumn Equinox, when the planet tips slightly and the nights begin to lengthen. To the ancient people of the world, these seasonal changes were hugely influential to their agricultural systems and spiritual beliefs. For me, it means the evening sky starts changing to muted apricot and those dangly flying spiders begin their annual invasion.
Autumn has always been my favourite season. Spring is a glorious second with its bright mornings and globules of dew, and winter is a time of cold walks and mince pies. I’ve never been too bothered by summer; the early warmth is great but I’m pale as a ghost and rapidly overheat if I can’t find shelter under a shrub. But autumn is the season for hot tea and elderberries, jumpers that aren’t yet Mitchelin-man thick, and the indescribable swathe of colour that transforms treetops into burning effigies to the gods.
The farm has been wriggling with creatures preparing for the long snooze over winter. The chubbiest robin I’ve ever known has made its territory by the feed shed, and every day I sprinkle a few pellets of cereal to fatten him more. There’s been a surge in green woodpeckers, wrens, buzzards and goldfinches over the last few weeks, the latter hastily consuming all the remaining teasel seeds they can find. On a sadder note, we’ve found eight rabbits in the last week suffering from myxomatosis, and have had to either drown them quickly in a very uncouth bucket, or watch as they hop off to become a fox’s breakfast. I mentioned this to the Mammal Society but they didn’t seem to have any other reports of local mass infections, so hopefully it will disappear quickly.
I’ll spend the next few days foraging anything that remains on the hedgerows and making more jams and alcoholic beverages to warm me through the frosty months. For now, there’s a buzzard on the fence and I want a closer look.