All The Leaves Are Brown

Crockern Farm

After an extended and beautiful summer, autumn has arrived. Crisp leaves now carpet the ground. A damp air freshens and awakens. And a lower angle of light on the horizon casts longer shadows. On early dawn walks with Sam, I spy spider webs glistening on the gorse bushes and glimpse my exhaled breath as we walk down the track. If there is a mist – and now there is almost always a morning mist – and if the sun is just right, the bushes on the hillside glisten and sparkle. With the end of October near we will soon enter the winter months, making staying indoors much more tempting, especially if it is as wet and windy as last year.

This season brings the arrival of chillier weather, and with it, more of the critters from outside join us inside: spiders who spin intricate webs in a moment; the long eared bat; moths and a few late season butterflies; and our chickens. These are a curious clutch of hens and if the door is left open a jar, they march in single filed to see what might be on offer.

With its cooler air and changing colours, autumn always fills me with memories of apple bobbing, raking leaves, pumpkin carving and, of course, Halloween adventures. Halloween is a once a year opportunity to get dressed in scary clothing, hang up paper bats and skeleton decorations and cover the front door with fake spider webs, carve pumpkins and eat vast quantities of mini-chocolate bars. Who doesn’t enjoy that?

It is disappointing to accept, but once again I do not think we will get any trick or treaters up our long track. All the same, I’ve purchased candy, as I will not be caught short-handed should the bell ring. And imagine if our doorbell did ring!   How would that brave soul — or, boooooooh undead being — behave if we didn’t have a bowl full of mini chocolate bars to offer as treats? Halloween is not just about trick or treaters, it is the very night when lost souls roam and haunt! What if a coven of witches on their way to celebrate the night of the dead at one of the ancient stone circles on the moors knocked on our door in hopes of receiving a bite size Snickers Bar? Well, I for one refuse to disappoint!

Pumpkins ready for carving.

Pumpkins ready for carving.

Autumn is also a time of finishing up all those outdoor chores before winter arrives. As the plants die back to conserve their energy for a spring bloom, so too, Roger and I have turned our attentions to readying for winter.   Most recently, Roger has been repairing the shelves under the kitchen counter – a truly awful project – whilst I’ve stacked more firewood, cleaned the greenhouse, raked the fallen leaves, cleared the drains, given the lawn one last mow, turned and bagged compost, weeded, laid mulch, and straightened the barn. “It’s preposterous, I’m cutting shapes which have never been invented before!” said Roger as he walked past carrying a new shelf to replace the rotten ones under the counters.  And watching him contort himself underneath the kitchen counter, home to spiders and decades of accumulated dust, to solve the puzzle of these shelves has me realizing how easy my chores have been.

Except for one. I’ve just finished planting over 350 bulbs. How is it that bulbs seem so few when you buy them and oh-so-many when bent over planting them? I can only hope when spring arrives I appreciate the number and avoid my usual mistake of thinking, “Hey, we need more bulbs for next year!” Across from our barn is a collection of mature trees – Ash, Rowan, Oak, Sycamore, Beech, and Laburnum — under which there are now more clumps of bulbs. These snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils with their delicate yet proud stalks holding flowers will declare, in the fullness of time, spring is on its way.   They will be our hopeful signs that winter is not forever.

But we aren’t there yet. Soon, we will spend more time by the fire and less outside. As the nights draw in and our wood burner provides daily comfort, we will turn our attentions back to finishing the downstairs. We got stalled.  The summer was just so nice. No, it was glorious! That, and the demands on our time were extensive. Work, travel, and the real test to any relationship, selecting plumbing taps, had us running to play catch up. Yet, we’ve endured. The fixtures are all here and the plumber arrives this week. We’ve framed and wired the new bathroom and with that, we can hopefully complete the downstairs before the year’s end.

This week, however, we will carve our pumpkin, enjoy the visit from our friends, and wait for the knock on the door from those lost souls!

The colours of autumn.

The colours of autumn.


16 comments on “All The Leaves Are Brown

  1. Paul says:

    Was that title a sneaky Mamas and Papas reference? Are you, in fact, dreaming of California?

  2. jllevitan says:

    Lovey post. Feel like I was on the walk with you. Look forward to seeing a picture of the flowers in the spring. I can picture poor Roger contorted under the counters. What a good egg! Hope you get at least one Trick or Treater. At least with all that physical work and exercise you get from walking the moors you can afford to eat any candy that is left over. My strategy – I bought a candy assortment I don’t like (Starburst, Laffy Taffy, Skittles etc) out of self defense.

  3. kiwiskan says:

    beautiful descriptions and photographs

  4. Lol. I’ve been singing that song in my head since I saw your post appear in my reader a few hours ago 🙂

    Are ‘Trick or Treaters’ a viable option or is your track just too long? In our village the recognised sign that households are happy to be ‘scared’ by young callers, is a lit pumpkin outside the door, or at the bottom of the drive, or hanging from a hanging basket hook, or in a window etc, etc. so maybe it’s a case (assuming your drive isn’t some 1 mile, off road, obstacle course with numerous trip hazards and no light whatsoever) that young callers and their parents aren’t aware that you are hoping for witches, zombies and vampires to come a calling, especially if your pumpkins aren’t clearly visible.

    Each year on Halloween, the young Mudlets’ get dressed up as soon as possible (probably all day this year as they are on half term) and as the night falls and the pumpkins are lit, they wait impatiently for the callers, handing out treats from our cauldron. Of course, about an hour in, they begin to worry there won’t be any treats left for them and start to hope that the last of the callers have been:) This will actually be only their third year of Trick or Treating themselves and they can’t wait.

  5. But isn’t spooky Wistman’s Wood where one of Britain’s largest covens gather every Halloween. They must go right past your door – I wonder if you ought to get in a stock of Black Magic?

  6. says:

    You sound so fulfilled ,I remember All the Leaves are brown sung by the Carpenters.We visited Charlotte today in Saffron Walden , Emma is nursing her through terminal cancer. We are very worried about the future of the children .

    Sent from my iPad


  7. dartwalker says:

    I was so.. tempted to head up the Dart to your place this evening so that you got one trick or treater. Luckily for you I’m busy cooking instead.

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