October has arrived here in the Wolds, and the geese are honking and clamouring their way across the skies in their formations, many hundreds of them, stopping at the lakes before they head south. They wade through clouds that part before them, and meet again, before being torn asunder by the winds that worry their way through the tree tops, scattering falling leaves in their wake. The lime trees are shedding their hearts again, golden brown silky things that drift and pile up in great warm heaps across the courtyard. In the herb garden, plants nestle down, energy seeking the soil again as they prepare to weather another winter. The leaf harvest is about done, only a few solitary flowers left now – mullein and chicory blooming in fierce defiance of the windy, rainy weather. Puddles grow underfoot as the rain, long missing over the last couple of months, finally comes down in wild abandon. Set foot outside and the rain soaks you in seconds!
In the veg patch, chard and kale are growing well, and we have two glorious orange pumpkins that are ripening up a treat. Tomorrow I’ll bring them in, sun permitting, and put them on the windowsill to finish ripening up. Then there will be caramelised red onion marmalade to make, huge pans of vegetable soup for the freezer, and apples, endless piles of apples to prepare. Stewed fruit, chutney, wine, cider, the kitchen will be redolent of it for weeks. After that, it will be the turn of the hawthorn – gallons of ketchup will be the order of the day, the house left strongly scented with vinegar and spices afterwards. At long last, after the first frost has landed, it will be time to make up the bottles and batches of spiced rosehip syrup to add to the store cupboards, already groaning with elderberry and star anise syrup for warding off the winter colds. Between last October and now, I have caught five colds, one of which turned into flu. I am determined to ply all of my arts to avoid catching any this winter!
Inside the house, work has begun on reclaiming my old clothes making skills, long neglected, as I am determined to bring to fruition my clothing range, the Modern Medieval, which has been a long held dream of mine. There will be plenty of trial and error needed, and the first prototypes are being made to fit me, as they are not good enough to sell – but each one is getting closer and closer to being something I would be happy for someone else to wear. The stencilling continues apace as well, though there have been no new designs recently – the summer has been so busy that I am looking forward to some peace and quiet this winter to develop some new designs and play with more luscious fabrics and glowing, shimmering colours. I foresee a range of Viking, Celtic and Anglo Saxon inspired designs to be developed, along with more faerytale creatures.
I’ve also begun experimenting with leather work, and things are proceeding apace there. Lastly, I have resurrected and dusted off the Enchanted Herbal, a project begun some time ago now and abandoned in favour of outdoor activities over the summer, though I suspect part of the reason for its abandonment was a lack of confidence on my part, something which I continue to strive to master. To summarise, then, I think the word of the moment is ‘enchantment’ – clothing, interior designs and writing that strives to evoke that sense of wonder and magic that is so often lacking in life, though I am delighted to see it making somewhat of a resurgence these days – about time, too! The following months will hopefully see blog posts themed around herbalism (of course) plus poetry, short stories, photographs and commentaries about my dress making exploits and of course more updates about my stencilling designs. Wishing you all a delightful and abundant October!