blackberries in hedge

Simple Pleasures | September

I love these late summer days.

No matter how many decades it is since I left school, each September I still feel that sense of sadness that summer is ending, tinged with the anticipation of a new term. I may not need new shoes or feel the need to sharpen and organise the crayons in my pencil case, but it’s the start of the netball season*, there are classes to resume and new activities to take up while on the farm the ground is prepared and the seeds sown for next year’s harvest.

There are so many simple pleasures to be had in September.

Enjoying

hedgerow berries

Every day as I walk through the fields, I notice another change as we move closer to autumn. The colours of sun-bleached August are giving way to autumnal hues as brown earth replaces the wheat stubble and the hedges fill with orange, red and purple berries.

I’d enjoy it even more if we had some rain.

Picking

In the garden we’re picking the last of the raspberries and the first of the Discovery apples. In the fields, the blackberries are now ripe for snatching a handful on a walk or filling a container to bring home.

Eating

We’re still eating fresh vegetables from the garden every day. Supermarkets may try to connect with our hunter gatherer instincts by offering us loose vegetables to pick into our trolleys, but nothing beats the satisfaction of pushing a fork into the soil to prise out a handful of carrots. Even if they aren’t perfect.

 

Making

natural dyeing with blackberries

Last year I tried dyeing with many different plants and produced an amazing range of beige. Unfortunately, I was usually aiming for yellow, orange or pink. This year I’ve tried to reproduce some of last year’s more successful colourings. Above are blackberry, feverfew, blackberry with wood ash water modifier, brambles and walnut husk. Blackberry dyed yarn is well-known for not being colour fast; some of last year’s faded to a rather beautiful silvery grey, though one batch is still a dusky purple. As I only use this wool for knitting hats and the like, I don’t mind the colour change and rather enjoy watching the decline.

Anticipating

blackberries

Later this month, Ruth and I are holding a Blackberry Day when people can pick blackberries from the fields and bring them back to The Barley Barn where we’ll use them for dyeing and jelly printing. We’ll make blackberry vinegar, eat blackberry cake and I’m sure we’ll have time for a little Blackberry Gin tasting too.

 

Do you like September? What are your simple pleasures

*I have slowed down to walking netball, which (the way we play, though I cannot vouch for other more elderly teams) is much faster and more competitive than you might imagine. It’s also tremendous fun.

23 thoughts on “Simple Pleasures | September

  1. Sam says:

    I don’t mind September at all, once the children are back to school and we’ve settled into the new routines. My middle son is 15 next week, so we have the added excitement of his birthday. We’re still picking a full colander of raspberries every other day and I’ve just made two of your Raspberry Loaf Cakes (pic on my instagram) – the smell is delicious. One is for a friend and the other is for back-to-school-day-tea 🙂 I love the colours of your wool, especially the walnut husk. Your Blackberry Day sounds great – hope it goes well.

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      Your photo tag made me smile #100wayswithraspberries – I know the feeling. I’m particularly pleased with the walnut husk dye and very happy to get rid of the container filled with rotting husks and ever darker water.

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  2. Glenda says:

    Anne, you are so cruel. September means summer is on its way. No more lovely rainy days. Your wool looks great. I love the colours, especially the walnut. You are very talented.

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  3. hoorayaly says:

    I love this time of year, gentle after the brutality of a hot summer. Mornings start foggy which I like…before long the field mushrooms will start and we will once again enjoy mushrooms cooked in butter served on a homemade slice of toast. It is a bit different in Normandy, still the maize to come in and the winter wheat is being sown now. The veg plot has just about finished after a dreadful year and the apples and pears are small. A pain to prepare but just as yummy bottled ready for winter puddings.
    I look forward to the little squashes that will be in the shops soon..really must try growing some. I love these stuffed with leeks and Gruyere cheese and baked in the oven . A favorite recipe found in Hugh FW veg book.
    Autumn is a busy time in the kitchen turning produce into food! Chutney making will start soon. Am busy turning tomatoes into passata for pasta sauces.
    Soon it will be cool enough to finish off the crochet throw that sits in the basket next to my chair. It is big now and cannot be done in hot weather. I enjoy this ritual of autumn and winter. We have many throws I have made, starting a new one in spring and finishing in winter.
    I guess the wool you are dyeing is your own? I would love to do that but do not have enough land for sheep.
    People often comment on this lifestyle, saying it is hard work. Yes it is a lot of work but I enjoy it all.

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    • Anne Wheaton says:

      Goodness, you sound busy. I love the idea of starting a throw to finish in winter. I like your autumn rituals – we seem hard-wired to lay down supplies ready for winter.
      The wool isn’t my own as we don’t have sheep. My experience of sheep is that they just want to die, so I’m happy just to buy undyed yarn.

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      • hoorayaly says:

        I am busy all year! I have chickens, ducks and geese to care for and this year we started bee keeping. Over the nearly 7 years since we moved here we have worked at cutting out factory made foods. I now just buy basics. This week I will be making my first ever farmhouse cheddar! It has taken a while to gather the gear but am finally there. Our most recent achievement is to stop buying commercial pet food. The dogs and cats also have homemade dinners! My days are filled with cooking, gardening and making!

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  4. thesnowwoman says:

    I also find certain sadness and ending in September. Don’t get me wrong, I love fall! There is something beautiful when the light changes and I get an intense need to nest to get ready for our long cold winters. We have been canning/bottling and cleaning house. Your dyed yarn is lovely.

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  5. fergie51 says:

    Lovely! We are just heading into spring then summer and most importantly serious G&T seasons! Those yarns look stunning and as it’s comforting to know they grey as they age too. Simple pleasures indeed.

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  6. anna warren portfolio says:

    I love spring and Autumn whichever hemisphere I am in, always a promise of change. Right now I am in Scotland while my partner is on sabbatical at Stirling university, and I am astonished at how warm it is here! I have brought all the wrong clothes … Your wool is beautiful, those colours just look warm. Lovely!

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  7. Jane @ Shady Baker says:

    Your wool is so pretty and soft Anne, I love it. September is very different here…we are transitioning from cold weather to warmer weather. Not quite cold enough for heating but not hot enough for air coolers or fans in the house. It seems to be a time of year for sickness, perhaps due to the shift in season. The winds can be warm and unsettling, I think September sounds more pleasant at your place.

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