There’s a fragrance drifting from the kitchen as I write – a mixture of sweet and sour.
The autumn chutney-making has begun, a sure sign that summer is indeed done.
The lawns are covered in a gold melee of leaf fall and the ground is damp from a day of rain. Petrichor wars with chutney at the back door – the chutney is winning hands down and soon the cupboard shelves will be groaning. We’ll make jam from frozen fruit as well, as we’re coming to the end of the cherry plum jam. So perhaps golden apricot and almond is next or maybe even ruby-coloured nectarine jam if we can find a way to counterbalance the overt sweetness. It’s a beautiful spread but more suited to eating with blue-veined cheese or perhaps a very mature Pyengana cheddar. Maybe we might mix it with half-ripe pears and make another type of spicy chutney.
In our first year of marriage, we stocked up on Pyengana cheddar, tall cylinders that we would bore with holes and into which we’d then pour port. We’d suspend the cheeses in old (clean) pantihose in the box room (which we called the horror-hole) at the bend in the stair of our most favourite home in the whole wide world. Later, we’d have a ceremonial undressing of the cheese and slice it onto crisp peppered wafers and partner it with a glass of good red.
Ah, the bittersweet memory of times when responsibility was just a word in the dictionary.
How times change…
Forty seven years later, the terrier and I walked the back road in the rain.
The birds were quiet, and a sea wind swung from north-east to south-east as dead gum leaves rattled to the ground. Rain pattered down, a tapping syncopation on my umbrella and I didn’t mind at all because we needed the rain. The terrier was beastly careless of the damp and swung back and forth like a hairy minesweeper.
Yes, summer is done, and even though I swim as frequently as I can, the water has chilled enough to pull a radiator top over my bathers if I want to stay in for longer. Every time I go into the water I say: ‘This is the last summer swim’ but deep and dark in the back of my mind is another question: ‘Will I even be around next year to do it all again?’
Life is unpredictable. We must eat all the chocolate eggs while they’re there because we just don’t know when there may be no more chocolate.
Cooking - see above.
Plus trying to finish loads of hearts (with chocolate eggs), to be delivered to various hospital wards in the city before Easter.
Autumn-cleaning – sprucing up the cottage after summer and planning the winter/spring garden.
Buying new runners to…paradoxically…do lots of walking!
Writing this week has led me on a curious journey as I am a ‘pantster’ writer. It’s been fun…
Finished The Librarian of Glass Lane by CJ Archer … ripping yarn.
Begun Forest of Foes by Matthew Harffy. I consider Harffy to be a natural successor to Cornwell if BC ever stops writing. Harffy writes of the Dark Ages with brilliant sensitivity and his protagonists have deep souls. They’re believable and are often in the midst of a moral dilemma. I’ve read nearly all of Harffy’s books but am behind the eightball on The Bernicia Chronicles – catch-up time.
And whilst we all know that I’m unable to go through a week without Tom Ryan and David Michie, I do have some other Substack favourites:
Sam Neill’s Did I ever Tell you This? An accidental memoir, and as with many memoirs written and read by charming people (Richard E. Grant’s A Pocketful of Happiness is unsurpassed), it’s good.
Knives Out. Did so enjoy seeing Daniel Craig in a different iteration but I do find Jamie Lee Curtis hard to watch. Enjoyed Glass Onion in the same vein.
Australian Survivor – the final immunity challenge was almost sacrilegious, and it blew the game apart. My chosen two missed out on immunity, and a woman finally won (double Olympian). When all is said and done, in the end she outwitted, outlasted and outplayed ‘em all, so go Liz! What I’m so impressed about with Australian Survivor is the way that mostly, they are respectful of fellow competitors and that’s not easy in a game played between disparate people and which is as much social as anything.
The Night Agent – thrilling spy drama series on Netflix. A couple of on-edge-of-seat episodes a night.
Alone Australia filmed in the unforgiving wilderness of our island’s west coast. In 2 days, 3 of the 10 contestants have already tapped out – that’s how wild it is! (PS: I want to buy myself a fire starter from a camping shop and have a go at creating a fire myself. ‘Fire is life…’ Survivor mantra )
So the day shuffles to a close.
Tonight we’ll switch the clocks back, and on my evening dog walks I’ll once again be gazing at the dark glister of a night-time galaxy in a coastal sky. In that immensity, I’ll note that someone I love dearly is suffering. And if I could, I’d say: ‘Let me take you by the hand because nothing in this twisted world is harder than facing your demons by yourself…’ (unattributed)
That is truly bittersweet…
My mother's shelves were amazing too - I had such a good teacher. She and Dad gave me my love of coast, gardening and so much more.
And re the link - it's a pleasure. I'm loving your writing.
This post was delicious. I felt myself walking along with you, absorbing the sights and smells of autumn. I imagine your stone fruits are spectacular! I'm sorry someone you love is suffering but glad they have you on whom to lean. Thank you, Prue.