Friday, November 13, 2015

Shades of Autumn


















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.  


27 comments:

  1. Autumn is short here too, but then that is because summer just drags on and on!
    Trees, that is what I don't see in your photos, something I never picked up on until you pointed it out, Regardless
    of trees or not your island is really so beautiful and one I would love to visit.
    I think the moral of your story is something we can all learn from!
    Happy weekend my dear, dear friend.

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    1. You would be so welcome, Tracey. Yes - no trees! There is one large and beautiful woodland park which was grown by a Victorian landowners wife on their estate. She imported tons and tons of soil to plant her trees. Now it is in community ownership and is such an asset. I go there if I need to be in the forest, but otherwise I love the open landscape xx

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  2. I was thinking of you last night as the storm was forecast x take care and I hope the winter preparations go smoothly x

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    1. thank you. It wasn't as bad here as it was in other parts of the island. Scary enough though xx

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  3. I thought of you and your little man as I saw the news predict severe weather for you. x

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    1. Thanks, Julie - thankfully everything was ok here xxx

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  4. I love the magazine you are reading. here in the U.S. it is a treat I give myself. Stay warm and safe

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    1. Oh you will enjoy it - it is lovely this year. I know you have your own Country Living in the U.S. too. Xxx

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  5. Yes I hear you regarding the heaviness of the sole responsibility of ensuring you are well prepared and weather tight. I know James will be a practical help in so many ways but it is the emotional side that takes up the headspace and is wearying. Sending you love and prayers. Stay strong pioneer lass.

    San xx

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    1. Thanks, San - I like the Pioneer Lass bit ( particularly the Lass 😀)
      Yes not having john to talk things over with that is hard, but we were fine xxx

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    2. Ooh - I guess blogger doesn't like smiley emojis...

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  6. Also the sole one responsible for winter preparations. No one around seems to understand why it is I keep sneaking tasks into our everyday..."the weather is great, why are you so worried?" Wishing you ease in all of your worries and comfort in the coming seasons. God willing, we will have everything we need and just in time. HE is generous, merciful and watchful.
    Much love.
    .

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    1. Hello - thank you. Yes i know - I think that the parable of the house built on the rock had a very strong practical application too! Sending strength and prayers to you xx

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  7. You are so strong Jacqui, not having that someone to talk things over with. I am glad the storm was not that bad for you. It was forecast to be really strong was thinking of you.

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    1. Oh bless you and thank you. I'm so grateful to have a couple of friends that are good sounding boards, and I speak to my older children a lot, and James is good to. Xxx

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  8. I love your photo of what I guess is gone to seed red dock with the stones in the background. I love the colours of Autumn. I have had a hard week that's left me tired and emotional and I plan to get back on an even keel by sewing my nan a quilt tomorrow. Had a difficult interview in Edinburgh on Tues, then faced a trip to the hospital where my husband died a year ago - first visit since then and it was hard. I missed not being able to chat over the interview with him and I missed not having his reassurance after a hospital appointment. These moments come and they go and I can utterly understand those heavy feelings Jacqui. Although close to the Atlantic our gales are not as strong as westcoast island gales. I have a barn with a worrying roof but I am trying not to worry about that! It's the wintery, icy drives down the hill from our village that give me the biggest concern. I tended to let my husband drive the girls to school if the bus didn't come in winter. I am sending you good wishes for a not too windy, gentle and healthy winter. Alix

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    1. Dear Ali - I hope you are ok - what a worry that must be for you. It's such a shift, having only your own perspective on things, and missing the calm wisdom of the one who knew you best. That's the thing I miss most. You are in my heart and prayers xxx

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    2. Thank you Jacqui. As you know it is a sad adjustment and I miss my companionship with David. People do ask from time to time if I have plans to attend some bereavement counselling but taking the time to reflect, enter a conversation with you and Morgan helps more. Reading the voices of two very positive, strong friends who are experiencing the same is so comforting. I've always had a strong draw to the west coast and islands of Scotland not forgetting Orkney, so seeing your photos is a weekly highlight. Ali x

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  9. My mother read me that story from Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Story Books when I was a little girl. It impressed me then and I loved reading it again. Thanks. Autumn is my favorite, too, but the weather is so different here. A "cold" front pouring in from the north drops our temperatures down to...maybe the 60's, leaves linger on the trees through winter, and 'normal' is the sky in your 3rd photo from the top. Autumn is a time of looking inward, a time of preparing for rest. It is a time for us to reflect on our dependence on God for safekeeping through the storms we know are coming.

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    1. ThNk you JM - yes I am glad to have that reassurance. It's a lovely take - there were two other things that the foreman said - one was that he could keep the bairns away from the fire- meaning he knew exactly when to cut the peats at the time the oil content was highest and would burn hotter, I forget the other one, but it is a wise take xx

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    2. And I must also thank you for the mention of Uncke Arthur's bedtime stories. I have been trying so hard to remember who wrote the lovely bedtime story books that once were a regular Christmas gift when I was young - that is it! Bless you xx

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  10. Dearest Jacqui...I have no doubts that you can do it....I am much like the foreman on the farm. I probably overly prepare, but then I can always rest easy. This is not to say that sometimes I wish I wasn't alone, but, at least I do know I can take care of myself. Your post also reminds me of a new word for me, "hygge". It's about the coziness of winter. I read about it on "Welsh Hills Again" blog by Elizabeth Musgrave. If you have not read the post, check it out.

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    1. Hi Meggie - I visited Elizabeth's blog and how lovely it is - thanks for the recommendation.
      You are very inspirational in the way you get on with things- thank you for that too xxx

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  11. Love the feeling of this post (and your blog in general...). Living in the midst of a Douglas fir forest, I love seeing your open spaces. Our daughter and son in law just weathered Abigail in Ediburgh (he is at the university there for the next three years), and I asked when we skyped if they were prepared for the winter storms..."no." I always enjoy preparing for winter: gathering and stacking wood for the fire, filling the pantry, making sure we have parafin for the lamps and that the mantels are good, candles, water, canned goods, etc. Thanks for sharing a peek into your beautiful world. :)
    xo Lisa

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  12. Thinking of you Jackie as you approach winter and the challenges it can bring. Sometimes we don't realise how strong we are until we have to be really strong and tough things out, have a good weekend, we have snow forecast tonight :( x

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  13. Oooh, pithy comments, I love it!

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