Monday, 23 September 2013


The lighting of the first fire since early Summer
now usually takes place.
And how pleasant it is, as the evenings close in,
to draw up to the hearth with the feeling that
the fire is not yet the only barrier
between us and extreme cold and discomfort,
but is merely an excusable luxury
letting us down gently and easily
into the chilly months to come.

How delightful, too, to be able to carry in
odd pieces of wood and fir cones 
found lying beneath trees -
all of which, when much heat is needed,
are not of great value -
but which now give a feeling of thrift,
and the idea that one is saving coal
for a time when it will be essential.

And lastly the woods now take on a quality
unknown in any other month.
After the dull, monotonous green of late Summer,
it is a relief to see the leaves beginning to thin a little,
and the form and shape of trees -
hidden from us since early June -
revealed once more in all their bare beauty.

The dead green gradually, very gradually,
lightens and faint yellows,

tinges of red, russet 

and copper appear.

One last pleasure September has yet to give -
perhaps the greatest or at least the most thrilling of all.
It is towards the end of the month that the gathering
of the first autumn mushrooms is almost a certainty.

Nothing quite comes up to the picking of 
the first September mushroom,
partly, no doubt, because in doing so
one has got the better of one's neighbours,
partly, one must own, because one is
getting something for nothing
and partly, one must own,
for gastronomic reasons.

From Garden and Hedgerow by Ethel Armitage
published 1939.


  1. Alas, there is no fireplace in my apartment (although I am grateful for a smoke alarm attached to the living room ceiling) but I can echo your certain signal of the changing season. Just the other morning, I woke to hear a delicate hissing from the bedroom radiator. Ahh, the thermostat is working and the boiler in the building's basement is responding.

    Your photographs of those leaves are splendid! There are so many ways that contrast colors red and green can amplify their unique qualities.

    Here's to autumn! xo

  2. In another year or so she'll have been mushrooming with even greater enthusiasm , I expect !
    I was watching the first golden leaves fluttering down yesterday and thought it was nearly time to dig out My Knitting ...

    1. Yes and knitting too! I don't know much about her but there was an Ethel Armitage who was an archer in the summer Olympics in 1908 in London.

  3. I wonder if she expired of mushroom poisoning...?

  4. I become quite mad with collecting fir cones and kindling- a veritable bag-lady- i agree it seems better when it's for free! Jane xx

  5. To be honest, dear Lucille, I mistook the fir cone for a dead hedgehog at first, but now see my mistake. And how interesting to see discussion of mushroom poisoning! I must come here more often.

  6. Some lovely writing there...September is 'my' month, since I was born in it. I am a child of the fall with my brown eyes and hair, and my dislike of intense heat. I do like it when the leaves thin and I can see the landscape opening up, too.