Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Happy Housewife's Year : September - Summer's End and New Beginnings

Hereford 2015
I suppose it’s odd to start a new beginning in September, but I’ve always thought of September as a chance to start over.  No doubt it’s a throwback to those long ago school days, but the end of summer always seems to be a natural conclusion to the year. 

The long anticipated holiday is a thing of the past; the Summer plans made so long ago have either come to fruition or been abandoned as a lost cause and the outdoor living season is drawing to an end.  It’s time now to settle down to Autumn, make the most of the last of the sunny warm weather at home and get ready for the cooler months ahead.

In nature too, we’re in a transition.  The harvest is more or less gathered, farm, garden and on a foraging.  The summer birds and geese are preparing to take off for warmer climes as the year settles in for the quiet wind down to Winter.  The gardens too are winding down as everything retreats for the colder months.

The hot sultry days (the few that we had!) and sleepless nights of July and August are behind us, leaving us with (hopefully) pleasantly warm, sunny days and cooler nights.  The evenings will begin to draw in noticeably now – especially as we reach the equinox, meaning cosy evenings at home curled up with a book or some trashy television to entertain us.

September is the last of the foraging season for me.  The blackberries will be going over
Blackberries August 16
soon; the Old Wives advised against gathering after September 19th - no doubt, because by then they are all fly blown and maggot riddled!  They’ve been ripening since the beginning of August and I have plenty stashed in the freezer for crumble season.  I might be lucky enough to gather a good batch of cobnuts, if I can get to them before the squirrels.  The hedgerows and trees are groaning with rosehips and rowan berries for those inclined to turn their hand at jellies.  Soon the sloes will be ready for picking, although the longer they are left on the tree the better.  They are ideally an October crop but competition tends to be high among the sloe gin makers and they rarely last that long here!  According to folklore, they shouldn’t be picked until after the first frost, but a day or two in the freezer does the same job.

On the domestic front, after months of flicking a feather duster around, September usually sees a concerted attack of dusting, polishing, vacuuming into the furthest reaches and window cleaning.  The annual spider migration has much to do with this newfound interest in housework as everywhere I turn, I’m surrounded by cobwebs!  A few days’ neglect can turn the house into something Miss Faversham would recognise!   The summer duvet will be probably put away by the end of the month, the flannel sheets will put in an appearance shortly afterwards too ....... even if I have to have all the upstairs windows open again to keep me cool at night!!

Blackberry Crumble
Kitchenwise, the last of the preserving has been done until next year so we have plenty of goodies stored up to see us through the winter months.  September will probably see our last barbecue of the season, unless we have a very dry October.  The new gas Man-Aga we bought has been worth every penny.  It’s so much more convenient than the charcoal ones we’ve been used to so we’ve taken to barbecuing at every opportunity.  The Bacon Wars I’m engaged in with my lovely neighbour were ramped up when we started barbecuing gammon steaks!!  By the end of the month soup season will have begun in earnest, I love soups and could happily live exclusively on them!  I restrict myself to making one batch a week, with the leftovers being stashed in the freezer for another day.  September is also when crumble season begins; served with a swathe of cool creamy custard at the beginning of the month, we’ll be having thick hot custard by the end!

In the garden, we’ll be having a general tidy up and a session or two to plant up the winter bulbs.  Last year I decided to plant Crocus and Snowdrop bulbs directly into the lawn.  They are always such a cheerful flower and always make me smile; they were a lovely treat to see in the barren garden in March this year.  I’ll plant up another swathe this year too, hopefully in the years to come they’ll naturalise and spread to give a lovely carpet of Spring flowers.  I wish I’d done it years ago!

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