Although the official end of summer was weeks ago, and autumn colours have struck the trees, I still persist in cheerful summer mood until the clocks go back. Heavily clouded skies, rain and general dankness has done its best to remind us all that winter is just around the corner, but yesterday October threw off its mists and mellow fruitfulness in a final burst of glory. Clear blue skies brought a sudden drop in temperature, and I donned gloves, hats and a thick coat for our morning walk. Hoover had just had a cut and blow-dry, so she was reduced to extra brisk walking, circling me at high speed and checking every blade of grass for hidden rabbits. It didn’t stop her from rushing for the garden when she saw us dressing up again.
In no time sputtering crackles down in the depths produced the first wisps of smoke curling up through the damp leaves. Hoover dragged sticks from the pile, taking them off to the back of the redcurrant bushes for a final chew. Unlike many dogs Hoover’s innate desire to be with us overrides her natural caution around fires. She lurked at the edges inspecting progress, prepared at a moment’s notice to duck out of the way when smoke leapt down to envelope her, chasing her round the other side where she caught sight of a more interesting collection of old rabbit burrows..
Fortunately we produce large heaps of hedge clippings and prunings too quickly for hedgehogs and toads to take up residence, but I always check the pile shifting things from the collection point to the bonfire only as we light it. Jay brought wheel barrow loads of beech leaves that he’d swept up from the yard. Together we threw in crisp armfuls onto the fire. The wind caught them, adding them to those it fetched from the trees, wafting them through the smoke before they fell to feed the flames.
The wind fanned the flames which burst through in dramatic flurries of energy keeping me busy tending to new areas that needed feeding. The dramatic shapes and colours were barely recognisable as flames at times.
Slowly the whole heap of garden waste was transferred to the bonfire. Hoover had abandoned her rabbit forays and reminded us to collect the leaves that have already fallen on the vegetable garden by sniffing out a courgette that had managed to dodge the first gentle frosts. With everything stacked high we went in for a thirst quenching drinks; tea for Jay and water for Hoover and me. When I came out later to check it, the fire had already burned through most of the leaves, leaving a white ash autumn that miraculously held its fragile leaf forms against the odds. Flameless now, the heat was held in the core where it continued to smoulder, scenting our dreams.
And today? Today it rained, but with the early evenings now upon us we made a fire indoors and relish the time to rest.