travel with me from SAHM to working mum….
Autumn has always been my favourite season. It holds warm Indian Summers, dramatic, destructive storms and dark chilly nights in its wide grasp. In the last few years we have basked in temperatures of 29 degrees, marvelled at winds strong enough to blow trees across roads and been marooned in our hilly Surrey villages by ice and snow. These natural excitements are the dramatic backdrop to simple autumnal pleasures. It is the end of October and I am enjoying watching my pumpkins ripen in the sun, collecting nuts on breezy walks, and savouring the odd hedgerow berry, washed by rain. All this is underpinned by the cosy sleep which characterises the post Winter Solstice nights. Or rather it was, until the arrival of the Dog.
The Dog is greedy. He eats most things: shoes, cushions, books, sometimes even dog food. In the autumn the Dog is most fond of apples. We are, or were, fortunate to have two apple trees growing in our garden. I loved them. What an easy source of filling for a Sunday pudding: crumbles, pies, even savoury dishes were bolstered by our home-grown produce. Since the arrival of the Dog, our seasonal blessing has turned into a curse.
This year has been worse than the last. Apples are large and plentiful. This is a result of a mild spring (favourable to flowers, insects and pollination), a wet summer (bloating the fruit) and a still, sun-blessed autumn that ripened the fruit (I knew there had to be a down-side). The apples are dropping faster than I can bribe the children to collect them. A glance upward reveals heavy branches loaded with green cannonballs poised to fire. The thud of apple on paving stone is regular and prophetic.
Prophetic? A bit strong? But no. With each thud the sleeping canine rug jumps up and runs whining and barking to the back door. Fine if I am in, even better when I am out. But, unfortunately, apples don’t drop between the hours of nine and five. They are quite happy to leave the tree all through the night, waking the Dog who alerts the rest of the family.
This year we thought a solution to the problem had been found. We were excited to receive a card through our letterbox from the Garden Cider Company, a small start-up concern promising to pick our apples, transport them to a cider press, produce some cider, a proportion of which they would give us in return for our wonderful apples. It was a proposition that seemed too good to be true. My husband rang the chap who came around to assess our apples, preferring one tree to the other – interestingly the same tree the Dog prefers. He arranged to return in two weeks to collect our apples. We smiled, waved goodbye, closed the door and celebrated. Finally, an end to the apple sauce turds, broken nights, and rotting half-eaten apples that the Dog sneaked into the house when our backs were turned. We could even wrap up the bottles of cider as Christmas presents!
Sadly, we are still waiting for Mr Garden Cider man. It seems that we are not alone in wanting rid of our apples. Demand has outstripped available manpower. His idea is genius. He should franchise it and make his fortune. But perhaps he should make sure that he doesn’t disappoint his suppliers and potential customers first.
In the meantime, the bags under my eyes are matched only by the bags of apples under the tree. The Dog’s nocturnal barking continues and the only firework seen so far this year is of the husband variety. So, I’m through with autumn; let’s fast-forward to the spring.