early autumn

autumn oak leaves

Autumn is here. Hurrah.

There may be various ways of working out the start of autumn, whether you use the Met Office or astronomical dates or veer towards phenology, guided by the changes in the natural world such as the colouring of leaves and ripening of acorns, but sometimes it’s more personal. Here’s five ways I know that autumn is here.

Lt Forest field early atumn

ONE The countryside is changing colour. From the brown fields where the ground has been cultivated ready for sowing the new wheat crop to the leaves on the trees that are slowly turning yellow, brown and orange.

TWO  I feel drawn to wearing browns and purples. This happens every autumn as catalogues drop unbidden through the letter box featuring leggy models photographed in misty orchards wearing felt hats, tweed trousers and brogues. I resist the urge to emulate them as (a) brown and purple don’t particularly suit me and (b) my legs are at least 30 centimetres too short to carry off the look without appearing to be in fancy dress for a war-time drama.

Neck warmer

THREE  I start knitting. I thought it would be good to knit a neck warmer using the wool that I dyed with plants gathered from around the garden and farm. A sort of knitted story rather like the printed book I made in the spring. It would have been better if I’d worked out how long to make it rather than just cast on stitches until I got fed up (it winds around my neck three times and there’s still a lot of slack). Having decided to knit in the round, it would also have been better if I’d untwisted at Row 3 when I realised my error instead of thinking it wouldn’t matter. Actually, by the time it’s wound around and around, it doesn’t show. Not too much anyway. And yes, it does appear to contain brown and purple.

FOUR The Autumn Menu for The Dinner Party Collective is published. There are recipes for Vegetable Dips, Boeuf Bourguignon and Blackberry Tart together with suggestions for wines to accompany them. Just the thing for evenings around the table with friends. Nothing pretentious or fussy, just good autumn food.

FIVE  The kitchen reeks of vinegar or sugary fruit as saucepans filled with chutneys and jams boil away on the cooker. I know that I do not need to lay in stores for the winter like the squirrels that I watch pilfering our walnuts from the tree. For goodness sake, I live half a mile from a supermarket that’s open twenty-four hours a day. But there seems to be some sort of primitive urge to stock the pantry shelves for the winter and anyway, I always plant more tomatoes than we can eat fresh and  I cannot bear to see the fruit fall from the trees to lie rotting on the ground. And I can’t walk past blackberry bushes day after day without stopping to pick a few to drop into an apple crumble. And a few to make jam. And a whole lot more for Blackberry Gin. And blackberry chutney. And blackberry leather …

How do you know that Autumn has arrived? Or maybe you don’t notice or even care. Do tell.


38 thoughts on “early autumn

  1. I know autumn has arrived when the dried leaves are filling up my porch, when the road sides turn fiery yellow, orange, red and gold, when the spiders’ webs glisten with dew in the garden, when try garden gets a faintly neglected look about it it the cyclamen brighten up the end with their lilac and white flowers…

  2. ‘Just good autumn food’, thats exactly it Anne, Autumn has the foods we enjoy the most both to eat and to prepare and store. Lovely photos and I love your neck warmer!

  3. Your five signs of autumn are very atmospheric! I do love your hand-dyed yarn in those beautiful soft colours. I think for me it’s the shift in the tone and quality of the light – very intense in its own way but with that tawny undertone that says it is no longer summer. Like you, I don’t exactly face starvation if I don’t squirrel preserves away in the larder but it’s hard-wired in me from somewhere down the line! Enjoy all your autumn activities! E x

  4. having just posted a comment on Mrs Fords blog that I’m fighting off Autumn, reading your post, I realise I’m not. I’m knitting and thinking about wearing brown & purple. Plus looking through various squash recipes. Autumn is here.

  5. The air cools here, nice and crisp (no humidity). The tips of the trees are yellow, with many fluttering down and filling the yard with brilliant orange-yellow hues. The light has changed too. And it becomes apple season here, how many ways can apples be used for surprising delights? Its all good and a beautiful here!

  6. Thermal undies, two, sometimes three pairs of socks, so many layers I look like the Michelin Man – stew and dumplings, apple crumble – and yes, a scarf – purple and brown…

    1. The layers are certainly building up though I think autumn is also about discarding them throught the day – usually in odd places so that I have to go find them in the evening.

  7. I think if you live and work in the countryside you know when the seasons change, you can see it all around you, you can smell it. Autumn when you need to put the heating on for an hour at night!

    1. This morning they’re cultivating a field near the house and the wonderful smell of freshly turned earth is just wonderful. Possibly my favourite smell of autumn.

  8. fireflies, the guava tree turns a lovely rusty colour, I stop clipping the dog, my early orange starts to fruit, I sell less ham but more pork roasts.

  9. I know it’s autumn as the trees lose their leaves and the crunch underfoot. My veg garden suddenly starts to look tired, and I start thinking about jackets, boots and casseroles 😊

  10. what a beautiful post. right now, I am noticing when spring is arriving: it’s the days when I don’t have to pull on 17 layers as soon as I emerge from bed, when I can start opening the house up to let fresh air blow in, when I don’t have to turn the heater on automatically as soon as I come home from work…
    more poetically, it’s when I hear the birds sing more melodically, as if they too are celebrating the better weather; when the garden starts to wake up and flowers and leaves emerge from their dormancy.
    enjoy your autumn days,. it is a lovely time of the year.

    1. I think spring is about hope and things to come but somehow autumn is somehow more reflective. It is wonderful when the windows can be flung open in spring. Right now we’re opening them less but not quite at the stage when we put up the secondary glazing for winter.

  11. Hi Anne,

    I know autumn has arrived when I begin leaving the kitchen door open all morning before it becomes too warm and must be closed for the afternoon…when I hang a couple of scarves (crocheted by my grandmother) in a handy spot…when the earliest Canadian geese start spending the night on our front ponds as they travel this way for the winter…when pumpkin is THE great idea…when I feel myself heave a sigh of relief and feel more hopeful simply because life just seems less oppressive once the heat and humidity pass. Autumn is a reward like no other and full of well loved treats!

    Thank you for such a fun thoughtful post!
    Emily Grace

  12. When my Norway Maple tree outside the front of my house turns fiery red and gold but before the leaves start to fall. When it’s time to bring the squashes home from the allotment. When I make my son a birthday cake for his September 28th birthday. All these are pretty reliable indicators for me.

  13. Another lovely post from your place Anne. So much goodness. I had to laugh at your war-time drama brown and purple story! I am in favour of squirrel-like behavior, it certainly beats being constantly reliant on the supermarket, no matter how accessible said supermarket might be!

    I know it is autumn when the days finally start to cool off, the nights get a tiny chill and Easter is in the air. The garden starts to recover from a long, hot summer. It is a beautiful time of the year at our place.

  14. Oh you make me giggle Anne! Autumn has a magical approach, slightly cooling ground, tomatoes and sauce jars everywhere, relief from scorching days and beautiful still mornings. My favourite season 🙂

  15. I love the hips and berries in the hedgerows, the birds gathering to migrate (I think all the swallows, etc, have gone now), the longer shadows. I’m still trying to work out what goes on with the muck-spreading, ploughing and sowing round here 🙂 I really like your scarf and the lovely, autumnal colours.

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