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.
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.
Annie Bee xxx