Autumn Equinox, when day and night are equal, this always heralds to me that autumn has really arrived. The season has transitioned. Coupled with the damp, chalky, earthy air filling my lungs when looking out at the large harvest moon last night, that whiff was the marker that, yes, summer is over. Some may question did summer even happen this year, but for me, I love this season. Time to dig out the fleeces, jumpers and cardigans and throw a casserole together.
Something that always comes to mind when this season shifts is a childhood hymn, ‘Look for signs that summer’s done, winter’s drawing near … Autumn time is here’ and my goodness are those signs abundantly waiting to be found when you look. Here in my village sloes, hips and haws, blackberries and wild apples are filling the hedgerows, the fields are mostly ploughed and the leaves are on the turn with acid yellows and burnt umber browns.
This time of the year also reminds me of school Harvest Festival. I am lucky that my children attended the same small village school I did, but sadly with larger class sizes and then Covid, traditions have been lost and only my eldest shared harvest the same way I did. In fact no mention has been given to the Harvest Festival yet, the traditional hymns have been replaced and village traditions have slowly evaporated like the autumn mist by mid-morning. I wonder, who, reading this, remembers a good old Harvest Festival? Do you remember taking a shoe box of produce in? Or the mad dash to find a tin of something because you forgot? How about practicing singing, can you still sing ‘We plough the fields and scatter’?
Looking back I remember how there would be boxes of marrows, jams and chutneys lining the church aisle, a mad panic when space ran out and the porchway being stacked high with the overspill! Then there was the harvest loaf in the shape of a wheat sheaf with hidden mice to be spotted; everyone would be well behaved in the hope that they were chosen to help make the loaf and bake it in the off-limits school kitchen. With the final belting out of hymns that we had spent ages perfecting, my favourite part, the walk back from the village church across the path cutting through the ploughed fields. Feet damp from the morning dew and the smell of fallen apples rotting, spider webs sticking to your clothes and a clear view out across all the freshly turned fields as we trapsed back to school. An autumn that may be mainly memories now, but amazingly here in our corner of Kent the view is very much unchanged when I took the photo of the gateway to and from the field earlier on the school run!
Around autumn equinox the ploughing match also takes place, an important countryside event for networking, showcasing and catching up post-harvest. This year, held just two fields away from my village, I am hoping to get along to watch the vintage ploughing – I cannot resist a little grey Massey Ferguson! I have also spied this year terrier racing, welly throwing, foxhound displays and falconry are all back on the schedule. After a busy year growing and finally harvesting, autumn for countryside communities is a time to take a momentary breath and relax. All really is safely gathered in. In the midst of labour and driver shortages, for many a deeper sigh of relief is being taken this year, and then we start all over again ready for next year.
Regional Reporter - South East
Hello, my name is Lisa and I live in a tiny rural village in Kent. I am a full time mum to Alex and Emily and a self employed artist. My artwork is inspired by the seasons and my daily walks, my favourite style being a quick pen and wash illustration and lino printing. I have recently rebranded as Notes from the Hedgerow to share my artwork and adventures with our new springer spaniel puppy Bramble. My hobbies include visiting local places here in Kent, landrovers, crochet and training Bramble!