October – How I Dislike You

It’s that time of year again when people I know and love start going misty-eyed at the autumn   – the colours being the main draw. What I see is this: dark death and decay and 2020 is throwing more nastiness into the mix just to add to my feeling that this is a rotten time of year.

I am at a slight loose end this morning and am dressed up (as much as one can be these days) to go out later. Should I do the dusting; clean the windows; tidy the shed? No. Time to reach for my old pal, “In Your Garden” by Vita Sackville-West. I turn to October 22nd 1950 hoping to find some comforting words from V  – perhaps she hated October too.

Vita for blog

What I do find is the phrase, ‘mixty-maxty’ which I like enormously. First used by Robert Burns in the 18thC, it means a confused assortment, a jumble, promiscuously mingled. V uses it to describe a new border she has decided to create:

…a mixty-maxty border it shall be. I shall tear open all my packets [of annual seeds], pour them into an old tobacco tin, and shake them up together and then sow them and let them take their chance. Very odd effects may result. The fun of gardening is nothing unless you take reckless risks

She goes on to list (“half-sensible, half-temerarious”) the things she will sow and the possible result. Read down to the bottom of the page and you find the following:

* July 1951. Do not follow this advice. It was a complete failure.

Reading on, I find she loves October, describing the joy she gets from long dark evenings, reading seed catalogues, “no slugs, no rabbits, no moles, no frosts”. Perhaps I need to take a leaf out of V’s book and look for the upsides. I will let you know if I think of anything while I am hunting for my almost totally lost sunny disposition. In the meantime, happy autumn.

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Annie Bee xxx

Hello Autumn: September 1st


You might be thinking that I, and indeed the vast majority of British people are obsessed with the weather. You are right.

September 1st marks the beginning of autumn, but only from one point of view ~ that of the Meteorological Office, who describe it thus:

………   each season is a three-month period. So, Summer is June, July and August; Autumn is September, October and November, and so on.

Autumn viaduct

If that fills you with dark and damp feelings of utter disbelief and horror (summer is over, and it was RUBBISH) you can take the astronomical definition of the seasons which uses the Earth’s position relative to the Sun as the cue for separating one season from another. It is the equinox, when days and nights are of equal length which marks the beginning of autumn if you prefer to delay the inevitable. In that case autumn this year (2015) starts on September 23rd. Astronomical seasons therefore are about three weeks behind the meteorological ones. Whew.

Autumn leaves

The third way of looking for the beginning of autumn is based on phenology – the process of noting the signs of change in plant and animal behaviour. Ripe sloes and blackberries (tick), mushrooms growing on the lawn (tick), Japanese anemones in full flower (tick). In the case of this animal, thoughts turning to Christmas (tick), feeling cold in bed (tick) and the need to start cooking warming stews (tick).

Autumn in Durham

I reckon it is here. You can run but you cannot hide. For those who love autumn/fall, enjoy. Some of us will have to fight the instinct to hibernate.

Now where did I put that SAD lamp and those bed socks?

Annie Bee x

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