This spell of fine weather seems to have everyone in autumnal reflective mood, and yes, I have been hit by the joy of it too.
Thursday morning I awoke after a restless night. One of those nights when you tell yourself that you know you have switched all lights off, treble checked and re-checked and still can't settle. I had a list of "things to do" the length of my arm, visit to hairdresser, meet family solicitor, grocery shopping...you know it all too well. As I wandered out to see if there was any post, the phone rang and it was the very nice lady who works for our solicitor ringing to apologise and to tell me that he would have to cancel. "Not a problem!" I said, "we can reschedule for next week". I was delighted! The golden sunlight in the garden was calling to me, and I decided that there was nothing wrong in blowing off the rest of the morning.
I was due to meet with Tiggywinkle today, and had intended turning up with a nicely cut and coiffed hair-do, but truth to tell, I don't think I could have borne to sit in the hairdressers and look out at such a wonderful day. Even though the forecast is good up until next Thursday, and even if my hairdresser and his staff are the best in the world - nothing loathe I blew it off.
I gathered up secaturs, gardening gloves, bucket [for the weeds, although the back is much better, bending is still cautious] and headed out after what seemed to be the worlds most wonderful boiled egg and toast with lashings of tea to follow. Old tracksuit on, tatty runners and a song in my heart. I marked out what was for pruning, sauntered 'round the outside of the house, and sat down to re-lace my tatty runners. I broke my arm in '98 following a fall occasioned by a loose lace so I am vigilant nowadays. Sitting down was the best and worst thing I did that day.
The worst? The pruning went by the wayside. The best? I sat, for three glorious hours, shaded by the dining room until the sun came around to that position. Sitting there I relaxed and listened to the robins singing their territorial little hearts out, watched squadrons of blue tits fly in from every direction in the garden. There were swifts riding the thermals and butterflies aplenty visiting one of the still flowering buddleia bushes. OH has been busy cutting gorse and dead bushes and trees. Three elderly maiden elderberry tree's have been cut back to a height from which they will recover, survive the winter and live to provide the woodpigeons with fruit next autumn. As a result of all this the view across Dublin Bay to the Howth peninsula has been considerably improved.
In the bay, sailing from Dun Laoghaire harbour was a flotilla of small yachts; probably one of the sailing schools still making the best of weather and time before their intrepid young Captain Bligh's have to return to school. Like swans on a calm mirror like pool they turned with gentle elegance outside the harbour. At lunchtime the car ferry arrived, like some giant whale, gently slipping into harbour, her wake like a small tidal wave rocking the tiny yachts and dinghies.
The magpies soon became accustomed to the navy and grey lump sitting on the bench at the top end of the field. Having established that I was not edible - one magpie hopping right up to peck at my runner, they busied themselves hunting for slugs and bugs and whatever tasty morsels lurked in the newly cut grass. Most of them are this years issue, they are just coming out of their moult and look like Max Wall as they hop, skip and trundle across the lawn.
I went in around one to make a cup of tea, and as I waited for the kettle to boil, there, rolling like a little barrel across the top lawn was a hedgehog. I was delighted to see him - or indeed her - because the previous afternoon I had found what looked like the spikes of our garden hedgehog up under the pine trees. We have a new resident dog fox, a big fellow with a gorgeous coat and white tipped tail, and I was afraid he had taken our little hedgey pig. He has dined recently on a couple of plump woodpigeon, there are feathers galore around the place. All this despite my leaving chicken carcases out for him. The Silver and Bracken vixens don't come around these nights until the early hours and I miss seeing them.
Last week there were several nights when there was a full moon magically lighting up the garden. The owl was busy - afterall it was a hunters moon - swooping across the field down into the glen, then up to his favourite perch beyond the gorse.
Yesterday morning, after breakfast, I brought my much needed second cup of tea out to the bench to see what I could see before heading off to do the daily chores. As I sat watching some ants busily move some breadcrumbs, out of the corner of my eye I caught movement. There, daintily coming across the rocks was the Dogfox, picking his way carefully before disappearing into the gorse.
Winter will be upon us in a few weeks time. These are the days God sends us to set us up for the coldest season. One is nearer God's heart in a garden, than anywhere else on earth. It is just over a year since I moved back in here fully, I still look for Mums coat tossed across a chair - thrown impatiently as she sought to get a little extra time in her beloved garden before her busy afternoon started; but things have changed and, at last, I now consider this our garden - OH and mine. Yet she still walks with me when I am out there, and God help either OH and I if we move a pot to another place from where she positioned it, we can hear the sharp intake of breath, and yes, we put those pots back where she put them. I have come home. At last.