It is late October and the mornings are cold, almost frosty. We see our breath as we walk to the car for the school run. Later, in the woods, Meg runs wild, nose to the damp ground, snuffling through red, golden and yellow leaves. There is a smell like old cigars, the musty, though not unpleasant aroma of decay. Above my head the relentless cawing of rooks echoes in the stillness, I can see their messy, unstable nests, balanced like huge knuckles in the bare bones of the trees.
The garden has been cut back and tidied for the coming winter, the climbing roses that flung their summer growth wildly upwards, above the roofline, and outwards, bending low over the gravel in front of the kitchen window, have been tamed, snipped back and tied against the wires that hold them against the house wall. They know, and I know, that they will be back in even greater abundance next spring.
I have bought allium and tulip bulbs to plant, one day soon I will spend an hour in the garden pushing them deep into the earth before it becomes too cold, inwardly whispering 'Spring will come'.
The tiny apple tree, planted in memory of Derek's dear Mum, has, for the first time, grown apples. I look proudly at them every time I pass. Thoughts of a small orchard in the back garden are murmuring in the back of my mind. It only takes five trees to make an orchard. Two apple, two pear, and one plum, perhaps.
In the back garden the acer tree is having its annual moment of fiery glory, its leaves flaming in the bright October sun. It was like this the year we came to view the house, the previous owner pointing it out, keen for us to appreciate its fleeting beauty . It is even larger now, these twelve years later.
Last year's woollens are brought down from the loft, and unfolded, some are looking decidedly shabby, why did I keep them I wonder. The ever present bag for the charity shop is bulked out with a few old jumpers. I realise I need a new winter coat.
Books have been bought, and I think about learning some poetry by heart, to build a rich inner store of language and images.
Jacob turned seventeen, his birthday falling on the very last day of September He was born on a thundery night, as summer tipped in to autumn, in the last year of the old century. He towers over me, hugging me protectively. I don't know what he is protecting me from, but his embrace is immensely comforting. His birthday cake was suitably statuesque; a three layered chocolate Guinness cake, with peanut butter icing.
Autumn is here, and I am ready.