There is something rather special about the last few weeks of August that has me lost in a kind of what I can only describe as delighted melancholy. A sadness for a Summer that wasn’t as sunny as it might have been. A tiny bit of self-berating for all that I didn’t do, the carrots that didn’t grow, the walks I didn’t take. And an underlying sense that none of it matters, because our most beloved friend, Lady Autumn is on her way.
All hail Lady Autumn!
There is so much to celebrate here now. To make the most of before Summer says goodbye. The great swathe of pale pink gladioli on the kitchen windowsill. The hot pink parasol in the garden. The stripey tomatoes hiding and apparently thriving under what looked like the most miserable of foliage. A stack of new books for reading on quiet afternoons. This one and this one and more. Mornings spent sipping Earl Grey in snatched sunlight. Berserk thunderstorms that bring rain clattering on the conservatory. (A concert of sorts we have come to adore while watching the fairy lights flash and flicker in time with the lightening). The music that accompanies Finley everywhere he wanders around the house. Roasted vegetables, sprinkled with crumbled feta, breakfasts of watermelon and suppers of sleepy tea and a single perfect heart of lavender shortbread.
And so much to look forward to! An Autumn scrub to both wash away and come to terms with the remnants of the fear Covid-19 coated every surface with. Finn’s progression from school to college in whatever form it might take. The planning of an entirely different kind of Christmas: a quieter, less materialistic one. Dark, moody nights of candlelight and cider. Afternoons spent peeling potatoes and scraping carrots for the teas I remember from my childhood. Pans of scouse and plates of mince and onion in the richest gravy I can muster up. Days with more structure. More reason. Walks through orange leaves and muddy puddles. Black and white movie mornings and a challenge to work my way through the whole Furrowed Middlebrow back catalogue.
But it isn’t time yet. There is a child to be encouraged to say goodbye to boyhood and hello to his seventeenth birthday. His room to be re-arranged after we got half-way through in June and somehow abandoned our efforts. More sunny mornings spent unzipping my silly greenhouse to eat a makeshift breakfast of parsley and lettuce, mangetout and strawberries. Sunflowers to cut and hang to dry. Hopefully a few more BBQ’s of corn dressed in lime and chilli and the frankly heavenly cheese sausages we recently discovered. (Yup: CHEESE.SAUSAGES.). Gutters to be cleared and, of course, slates to be wiped clean. A debate to be had about whether a tiny stockpile of just in case of sudden isolation things should be shopped for and stored. And words to write. So many lovely words to write.
There is much to do. And I suddenly feel energised enough to do it. There is some of me still so very much in mourning for what has been lost over the past six months. The celebrations my son hasn’t enjoyed at the end of his school life. The caution we all wear now like so many masks. The people. And yet now has to be the time that we start stitching our lives back together, despite the boundaries we must all now acknowledge.
So today. Tomatoes roasting in harissa for tonight’s salad. Ste strimming the edges of the lawn in harmony with the man next door who whizzes up and down his huge lawn on his ride-on-mower making all the noise of an oncoming army. Finley and his girlfriend Alana, sprawled across the sofa watching The Vampire Diaries. And me. Here. Writing more about food than I think I have ever have done in over three thousand blog posts because although I’m awfully bad at recognising hunger I do believe I must be hungry!
Tonight. A shower in eucalyptus for the banishment of this stuffy nose I cannot rid myself of. Magnesium oil rubbed into my legs. Another episode of The Umbrella Academy with Finn and the first episode of The Fall with Ste. The readying of my clammy bedroom: curtains flung wide on windows as open as I can make them. The fan on. Sheets spritzed with meditation mist, a drop of melatonin to help me win the battle against that most evasive of much needed friends, sleep and no doubt another night splintered by busy dreams when I eventually catch up with her. Above all else: a quiet acceptance now. An embracing of what is and the understanding that authenticity is born of work and careful choice, not happenstance or mystery.
Yes, delighted melancholy. Lady Autumn waiting in the wings. And a delicious meal of homemade soup and a salad dressed in spicy riches.
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