People say that the climate is changing. Don’t you suppose that it has changed several times even in historical times? Day after day, the sun sends out rays of sunshine that warms our cottages as it shines through our windows and open doors. We always look at blue shadows in the corners of rooms and outside in the shade of trees and actually seek the cooler temperatures of these places to read books and contemplate things. Best to enjoy these beautiful days which are shortening with every passing day. When November comes until the end of January, there will be no sunshine falling upon our land in Scotland. We will see the light of a far-away sun which sends out a glow that has no warmth to take away the morning chill.
Everything that has a dark surface seems to acquire a depth and richness of coloring in September. Time now for the cows to grow their winter coats which will keep them warm in the worst of winter days yet to come.
We must go to the woods to cut wood for winter fires that will be needed afore long. We’ll be cutting birch trees and stack them to be brought home on a sled. In the quiet of a September morning, we take the two handled saw to the woods along with an axe. There is something a little sad about watching a lovely tree that once was alive with new leaves in the springtime come crashing to the ground. But, we be creatures that needs the warmth of a fire in wintertime if we are to survive. A sad thought is replaced by the need for warmth at our hearth in the cold of winter days and nights.
We make a cuppa tea to drink by the fire with a slice of fresh apple cake. We picked the apples from the tree in the back yard. Faithfully, every year it has an abundant crop of apples. How we appreciate and love our apple tree, gnarled as it is. Sharing with neighbors is a pleasure as we know they will enjoy the apples. When we return from our gift sharing trip, we have a loaf of bread, a plate of cookies and a newly made candle to sit on our mantle. While we were not thinking this as we bagged apples to share, still bringing home bread, cookies and a candle is very nice.
As we were returning from the woods with a load of logs later in the evening than we meant for it to be, we felt a touch of frost in the air, just enough to stiffen the clothes laying on the grass to dry in the fresh air. There is a film of ice on puddles of water. The sky has clouds with dark undersides, mayhaps we are finishing our task just in time. The tide is far out and gulls sit in orderly rows waiting for a bug or worm to appear.
It has been a dry autumn with less rain than usual. The tiny creek that runs in wet weather has left it’s rocky bed to return when it rains again. As we look at the fields where we toiled to harvest hay and the garden with its vegetables that we stored in barrels with apple cider vinegar and salt, we are thankful to have plenty for the long winter months when there is naught a bite growing for man or beast.
Loch na Gillean lays quietly in the late afternoon, there is no breeze to ruffle it’s waves. The trout we tried so diligently to catch last summer are now resting among the roots of the water plants growing on the loch’s shores. Now, there is ice which has formed at the far end of the loch, if a wind was to rise, it would break the new ice with a soft musical sound.
The sky appears a bit strange, looking west, it is warm and bright with clouds reflecting a gold color . To the east the sky is grey and empty of clouds and color; it will be from here that a heavy frost will lie on the ground tomorrow morning.
For supper, there’s tattie soup with more water than milk as the cow will not freshen until late November when she has her calf. We’ve dried peas to add to our soup and oat bread to slice and butter too.
It is early evening now and we must hurry the cattle along, there’s Highlanders, Galloway’s and a few crosses; we’ll send the dogs to bring them in closer. First comes the older cows, then the younger ones and then a unruly group of young animals dragging along behind. We have to shout at them to get them to cross the small end of the loch. At last, urged by shouts and barks and waving sticks they enter the water, which will reach up to their bellies while the younger animals will have to swim their way across. There will be a great deal of tossing of horns and a goodly amount of splashing with yells and barking dogs. We watch as one of the younger dogs dashing into the water with careless zeal is swept off his feet and carried downstream unable to keep his nose above water. One of us pulls him ashore and scolds him for being careless. He shakes himself and barks at us as if to say, “I’m here, aren’t I?”
It will be dark at 4:00p.m. Sitting beside my chair is a basket full of reading materials; two news papers from Inverness we’ll read and reread those papers until we know the contents by heart.
If there’s money enough during our next shopping trip to Inverness, we’ll purchase some cocoa to make hot chocolate, a treat on a cold winter’s night. That, and a plate of molasses cookies would be nice to share with visitors who will come to see us on Sunday afternoons.
Aye, our lives are plain and without excitement. We enjoy watching our children and grandchildren on Saturday afternoons at the school. They practice many hours to learn the words to songs both old and new. Sometimes they will put on plays with costumes made from this and that.
Outside, ’tis quiet and will be quieter when the snow begins flying. Soon, it will be October and that is a different story to tell you about.
Hugs to all, Beth Bristow