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Yesterday it was Summer, and today it's Autumn. Or so it seems. The weather here in the UK is famous for its unpredictability, so it could mean that tomorrow it will be Summer again, of course, so I won't get out my woolly pyjamas quite yet.
Winter can sneak up on us, making the less organised of us jump into action to save the house and garden from the destructively abundant elements.
Yes, Autumn, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, is upon us. You can smell it in the air, can't you? You can almost touch the changes.
It's time to make room for all those plants that have to be brought inside before the frosts come. Time to decorate the house while you can still open the windows without freezing. Time for a general tidy up of the house and garden.
Talking of gardens, the lawn needs a final trim, the flowers need dead-heading, the bushes need to be pruned, the fence needs mending and a winter coat of preservative, there are bulbs to be planted, weeds to be pulled up, and a patio to be cleaned. All in all, there seems to be enough to do without decorating the house or making time for hobbies. But I know where my priorities lie.
A friend recently moved house and chopped back a few rose bushes neglected by the previous owner, and I begged some of the cuttings. The green ones, suitably trimmed, went into the garden - just rammed into the ground without ceremony which, according to my more knowledgeable gardening friends, and in my experience, is all they need. The only problem I have with that, is knowing which end is up.
The older, dryer twigs lay in a pile at my side which most people would see as kindling, but, as I held the withering objects in my hand, in my imagination they were already strung into a necklace. I can only blame the crafts newsgroups for this distraction from "essential" chores, and I intend to. It is my first foray into bead making, and I am really excited.
The first thing I did was to cut the twigs into half inch and quarter inch lengths with a coping saw and strip the bark carefully. Then I drilled holes through them (also carefully), left them in the airing cupboard for a few days to make sure they were really dry, and rounded the edges with very fine sandpaper. Now I can paint them. Oh, the joy of creation! I could dye them, stain them, decorate them with acrylic paint, perhaps in the style of African, Spanish, or Victorian art . . . maybe even stick smaller beads on. Threaded on fine cord, leather thong or fishing twine, they'll make excellent gifts, if I can ever bear to part with them. Though I'll probably give one to my friend.
As I've said before, I can't bear to throw anything away. As I prepare to give my own garden an Autumn haircut, I ponder on what I can make from the bits.
Among other things, I have seen several large berries on the cotoneaster, the oak tree has dropped lots of acorns already, and the seed pods of the arum lily are just breaking open, revealing fat clusters of beautiful yellow seeds. Some of these will shrivel, of course, in the drying, and probably change colour, but that will only add to the interest. And I can always paint a few.
In years gone by, I have spray painted the more interesting twiggy bits silver or gold as an alternative to Christmas trees, and as table decorations with holly and ivy around them. I still dry fir cones and the knotty pieces of wood to put into the potpourri. I rescue those beautiful Autumn leaves from a premature damp and soggy end, and they sit in a glass jar to brighten a window sill until they finally lose their colour. Then I throw them onto the compost heap, where they meet a timely damp and soggy end.
This year, though, I have discovered the glue gun. Yes, I know I am a late starter, but better late than never. This year my twigs are going to have themes. There will be a rose twig with paper roses, an oak twig with painted acorns, a hawthorn twig with red, shiny beads, and anything else I can think of. I'll stick them into painted plant pots, and distribute them throughout the house. With these around, I won't be able to forget, through the long, dark, cold months, that summer is coming.