Enraptured in Autumn by Ellen Brenneman

Work on the allotment and on doing any writing whatsoever ground to a halt over the summer. I needed to be present in mothering my one year old, who is growing up, like everyone said, all too quickly. But things are picking up a little.

July was hot and heavy and ablaze with wild storms. September felt more like August and vice versa, and each month was illuminated by a giant, beautiful ‘supermoon’. It was the hottest, longest summer anyone could remember for ages – but for some reason I never quite managed to shake off the feeling of hibernation.

Only as autumn swept in, as the days grew cooler and the light mellowed into gold did I begin to feel more at ease. I love autumn’s mood of reflection, its fruitfulness, the feeling of slowing down and the gentle transition to the dark time of the year. On crisp, sunny days I can’t imagine a lovelier place to live than here. I got my own car again, making trips to  the allotment, and many other places besides, infinitely more possible. Though summer faded, life somehow felt like it was beginning again.

I went back to the plot and started afresh.

Together Mat, Myla and I planted fruit trees: apple, cherry, peach and plum. They are magnificent and had the immediate, desired effect of making the plot look a lot less neglected. Around the trees I chucked handfuls of bee-friendly crocus, narcissus and muscari bulbs. I laid an allium bed with lots of ‘purple sensation’ and a few ‘globemaster’ bulbs and sprinkled it with forget-me-nots. The hope is that these will resemble large purple pom-poms floating in a sea of blue froth when they flower next year. That’s if we manage to keep the weeds at bay…

I have developed a healthy obsession with bulbs and gone mad for tulips, more alliums, hyacinths, crocus and irises, all of which Myla helped me plant in pots in the back garden. I love the optimism of planting bulbs at this time of year, of looking ahead to spring before winter has even arrived. It’s a perfect antidote to the encroaching darkness.

On the writing front, progress is stunted – but the work is happening, even if it often feels like wading through treacle. Overcoming the voices of self-doubt and negativity can be difficult but, as James Radcliffe talks about in his blog, unpleasant is sometimes necessary. Sometimes the non-days where it feels like nothing much is achieved at all are just the quiet lulls before a surge of productivity – at least, I hope they are

And so I keep going back, starting afresh. I am re-reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes wonderful book Women Who Run With the Wolves (if I can call it that, since it’s not the sort of book I will ever ‘finish’ – more one which I dip in and out of whenever I need it). In it, she says of creativity:

“Some say the creative life is in ideas, some say it is in doing. It seems in most instances to be in a simply being. It is the love of something, having so much love for something – whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land, or humanity – that all that can be done with the overflow is to create.”

Writing and gardening, in this sense, are really just forms of creation, or overflowings of love. Which is, I think, exactly what the world needs now.

Illustration by Ellen Brenneman (

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