Around The Time Of The First Frost

Eight days in, October settles as a backdrop. It has been easy to find every warm moment a June/July sort of day, to greet cooling with a ‘perhaps September?’ To wonder if I had seen August at all. Some years are like this, impervious to months. No less imbued. One need not drift closed. But here I am, taking note of the date, coal dust wiped absently across face, bellyful of rich stew, heavy eyed, snuggled in wool, bare footed. House is a mess, of course, of course: bustling life, not all of it human. Here we are, at a time when blackberries begin an ebb, haws and hips glow bold-red, fennel seed dries, marigolds, nasturtiums bloom: yellow to orange, orange to red. First swathes of bronze foliage, first drop of leaf. House spiders return to roost.
Ten days in, first frost. First defrosting dance around the car in the demi-dark, feet in winter boots. Sky spreads red-orange-yellow, opens up blue; at midday we cast off jumpers. In shops vast boxes of pumpkins have arrived, supermarket shelves are haunted - deep green glitter, web-grey strands, pots of bright blood - love the spectacle, abhor the throwaway.
Twelve days in, jump up! A halloween story calls to be written. Something different this year. No more clues… at my desk, squinting; the dead ash tree still not cut down, white morning slips through its sentinel fingers. Will I have time, I wonder, to make the story work? Hedge birds hop on deceased branches. They have a busy and disdainful air.
‘You’re right,’ I say, ‘do what you can with what you’ve got!’
Outside the fruit press drips all colours of berry.


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