There’s something about September. Time seems to speed up as the Lyme trees in the front field turn brown, reminding me that Autumn is just around the corner. I no longer have school age children, so I don’t have the mad scramble (and expense!) that defined the change of season for over twenty years, but I still find that I start ‘getting busy’ with a sense of urgency that I haven’t felt since last May. This is the time to finalise plans, put those plans into action, assess what can still be achieved, and get stuck in before the winter. I know that I won’t get to it all, but I’ve always felt that if I plan to do ten things, I might get two or three done.
This year we’ve finally managed to redecorate the back halls, which we started last year. We prepped them late last Autumn, but by November they were too dark and gloomy to work in. The cold and damp make it impossible for paint to dry, so we lived with a half prepped back hall for a year. The ‘back-back’ hall (into the garage) had a bit of leak from the bathroom above, and it took all summer to dry out the wall. We also needed to put in a cat flap, so that the little window in the back hall does not need to remain open, blowing NE gales through the house in the winter. None are really big jobs, but all those fiddly details: scraping off old paint, filling the cracks, measuring the window, finding a cat flap etc, add up quickly. Not to mention the hassle of tracking dusty footsteps around the house, and piling everything that lives in the back halls into the front hall, blocking the stairs and adding to the general sense of mess. Now that they are done, I have high hopes of tackling the garage and repainting the kitchen before I start spinning my winter cocoon by the fire.
The land is also singing out for attention in September. It is not the strident symphony of Spring, proclaiming that every week counts. It’s more of a gentle folk ballad that croons: times a’wasting…There are tasks that need to be done… Living in West Cork has taught me that all tasks are weather dependent and should be tackled when the Weather Gods look favourably on our landscape. If you paint a room on a fine day, you can be sure that it will be raining the day that you planned to work in the garden. Strimming, which is a major task in the summer, is definitely weather dependant. Ideally you should have a succession of fine days, otherwise the strimmer gets blocked and the cuttings clump together and are impossible to rake. If you leave the clumps unraked, you will wake up one morning the next Spring to find that the garden has had a makeover, and is now dotted with tiny hills. Thankfully my weather forecast skills have been greatly improved this summer. The dryer broke down last June and we decided to delay the expense of buying a new one. This summer was so wet that I’ve become an expert at noticing the smallest change in the light, dropping whatever I’m doing, and rushing out to take the washing off the line. I learned the hard way, having washed a set of sheets three times during the gales in July.
Not to worry – another thing that I’ve learned is that it’s not the end of the world living with a half-prepped back hall, or not finishing the garden to Chelsea Show standards. As September turns into October, I know that my to-do list will dwindle, whether I accomplish my tasks or not, until the only thing on it will be: Buy a dryer.
On a different note: I am pleased to announce that I will be taking up the post of Artist in Residence at the Clonakilty Community Arts Centre. Please join me in celebrating ‘Culture Night’ on Friday September 18, with a free evening of music, poetry, theatre and songs; along with the launch of an exhibition of art created by the children of Just-One.org, a charity that helps children in Nepal and that is based in Clonakilty. See you there!