Autumn is a short season here - it creeps in slowly, and next thing you know Halloween is already over. Maybe its the lack of trees here, and the mild(ish) climate, but all too soon the daylight has shrunk to a few hours and the winter gales begin roaring in from the North Atlantic, blasting away what precious fall leaves we have.
Despite this, I do love the golden season. The busy-ness of the endless long summer days slows down, and I look forward to the turning inwards - that feeling of exhalation and rest is so welcome.
I was asked recently what my favourite things about autumn were. There are the obvious ones - the glorious colours of the Earth; the cosy fires; those huge skies - sometimes brilliant blue, but often daubed with great dramatic clouds; pumpkin spiced lattes and cake - with friends; seeing the sheep gathered in; retreating back to bed on a stormy morning with a cup of tea and a new magazine, or getting out for walks on a crisp morning.
Autumn is also about getting ready - preparing for winter. Usually I have garden produce to harvest and preserve; in the past we had sheep dipping and tupping to organise, and laying in winter feed for the cattle. Although there is no garden or livestock to worry about, this year, I still have to think about the winter ahead, and that responsibility is now mine alone. It feels heavy.
We are not isolated - and have good neighbours and friends nearby, but we are on an island, and many supplies are weather dependant. There are frequent gale force winds, (the first major storm of the winter was just last night) along with the inevitable power failures, so making preparations is a very important part of Autumn. Ordering the fuel for heating and cooking, making sure there are lamps and torches, sorting out the larder, fixing loose tiles and guttering, making sure everything is secure and as windproof as possible, and just trying to think ahead as much as I can.
There was a story of a local farmer, who was looking to appoint a foreman. A man applied for the post, and the farmer asked him why he thought he should be given the job. Among other things, he answered that he slept well every night. The farmer was a bit puzzled by this, but liked him and gave him the job. All spring and summer, the foreman worked hard, did all his tasks well, and the farmer was pleased. Then came the first big storm of the winter. The farmer lay listening to the gales whirling around, and the hail lashing the windows, and was frantic with worry. At last he could bear it no longer, and got togged up and went out into the storm to check his barns. He was amazed and angry to see no sign of the foreman out checking the livestock, and went round to his cottage and barged inside. He was furious to discover the foreman sound asleep in his bed and shook him roughly - "Why are you lying in bed when this storm is raging?" he demanded. "Because I had made sure everything was safe and in no danger beforehand" he said. And then the farmer understood...
So, there it is. Autumn, with all its cosy, spicy, golden delights, is a wonderful season, but - for me - now, it's all about making sure we can sleep safely in a storm.