I love my brisk walks all year round, but in the autumn - ah, in the autumn it's a whole different bag of bananas, as the saying goes. (I would certainly come home with a bag of bananas if they grew around here). Yes, the trouble with an autumn walk is nature's bounty. I can't resist it. So what should be an hours brisk trot for the old cardio-vascular stuff, turns into a leisurely and delightful trawl of the hedgerows. Some days I stagger home triumphantly bearing bags of glistening blackberries, sun-warmed and rich-fruity smelling. On these days I am smeared with juice around my face, in my hair and up my arms, as I scoff and pick and, of course, scratched up to my elbows by evil brambles. One pays for ones pleasures. Other days it is rose-hips for wine or syrup and hawthorn berries for light wine. Crab apples and quinces for jelly, overhanging plums for jam ... no time for walking just now.
Best of all are the elderberries, dark red, almost to black when ripe. They don't have the warm fruity smell of the blackberry, but pounded up for wine or stewed on their own or with apples and they are the nectar of the gods. But beware, gloves need to be worn, or hands are stained red with the flowing juice, like Lady Macbeth on a good day.
So, it's back out the door with me - nature's harvest won't keep. There'll be all winter for brisk trots in the countryside. But for now - Carpe Diem.
So there we were, better half and I,enjoying a well-earned coffee break in the morning sunshine. He has been busy painting window frames and I have been working in the garden, trying to get ahead of the autumn work before Wigtown Festival begins and the Writers Roadshow programme starts.
I can't blame it on the caffeine as we've been good bunnies lately and been drinking the de-caffeineated stuff, but I got a surge of energy from somewhere and decided I should start putting the more delicate summer statuary away in the winter hidey- hole.You know when you've started something and half way through, really regret it - oh boy did I today. In years gone by, the sculpture fairy came and magicked the lovely pieces into the store house, but today, the sculpture fairy has resumed his painting project, so I decided to tackle the job myself.
I never realised we had so many pieces, big and small, about the place. Augusta , a formidable lady with big bosoms, six foot if she's an inch, fiercely guards the back door and the large collection of pots either side of it. Lady Lydia, a smiley girl with her basket of flowers, peeps out from behind the ferns at the top of the pond. She is quite tall at four foot, but seems dwarfed by the mill-stone behind her. Then there is Priscilla, the stone pig, who has sat at the front door of every house we have lived in and Horace the Hippo, basking among the lavenders.....you get my drift, I don't need to go on. All I can say is, never again. I ache in places I didn't know I had and I am firm in my belief that my arms have stretched at least six inches from lugging Lady Lydia around the pond.
And just to throw another reflection into the mix, why do we give them names? They are big chunks of stone when all is said and done. But you ask anyone with even the smallest statue in their garden and you can be sure they will have given it a name. For me, I can sit on a lovely summers day and weave a whole life story around the stately Augusta, or pretty Lady Lydia and then they're part of my family. Throw in Priscilla, Hector and the two hares lurking in the shrubbery and many others lying hither and yon and you will see what a diverse family we are. Diverse maybe, but there are some terrific conversations to be heard around our piece of Scotland and the best thing is - I win the arguments with them every time.