Friday, April 28, 2017

from peak to past

It was weird the way we left our farm for ten days and by the time we got back everything felt different. In the scheme of things ten days doesn't sound like such a long time. We felt confident before we left that not much would change while we were away, that things would feel the same when we returned.

I remember other times away when we've sent requests home for photos of the gardens and orchards, looking forward to noticing new growth and old patterns, but not this time. In ten days we didn't expect any changes at all.

But quite the opposite happened. We left crisp, sunshiney, tee-shirt wearing days. We left apples, pears and quinces on the trees and tomatoes, zucchinis and cucumbers on the vines. We left trees covered in green leaves. We left days that dried laundry on the line and nights that were crisp enough to light the fire. We left blue skies and light and the promise of time to get everything done.

And then we returned last Monday into another season. The five days we've been home have been grey, freezing cold and the sort of wet that sinks in without definite beginnings and ends to the rain storms.

While we were away the wild animals cleared all the fruit off the trees and off the ground. They were so thorough that I felt like we'd been robbed until my farmer boy pointed out that no human would take all the rotten fruit from under the trees as well. Pears, apples, nashis and even the medlars have been eaten up without a scrap left behind.

The day after we got back I picked a crate of tomatoes and I could probably go through them again today and get another. But for every firm, ripe tomato, there are three split, squooshy soft ones. Hunting through the vines feels like an unlucky dip when you put your hands in and are confronted by the overripe, the decay, the damp, the slugs, the tar and that old tomato smell. Last Monday I lost my lens cap in a row of tomatoes and it still feels too icky in there to go back and look.

I'm gradually picking the beans as their pods brown off. There are carrots, beetroots, lots of leafy greens and leeks by the row. And for some reason the birds have left us some quinces for jelly. But the peak of the season has most definitely past and it feels like we're almost at that time now where some things will keep in the ground but nothing much will grow.

How did we go from peak to past so quickly? How are we not meant to take it personally when six months ago we were optimistically planting seeds and yet here we are now pulling out the debris by the armful and chucking it on the compost pile?

But the leaves have put on quite the show for us over the past few days. Everywhere you look there are reds and oranges and yellows and purples. We're constantly elbowing each other, pointing things out and ooooing and ahhhhing.

And as for the laundry and the fire? Inside and all the time.

I'm really worried about late autumn and winter. I'm anxious about the gloomy, grey days that are so cold they make my bones ache. I'm worried about driving the girls to school and back in the dark, over the mountains, on icy roads. I'm worried about the months where nothing grows in the garden. I'm worried about the inevitable questioning of whether I'm even a farmer if I'm not growing anything. I'm worried about feeling stuck and slow and uninspired and uninteresting. I'm worried about all the jobs on the farm I want to do before it's too cold to go out and do them. I'm worried about mould and damp and the slushy mud. I'm worried about how long it'll be before the warmth of the sun touches my face again. In a way I feel like I'm half a person in winter and I'm worried about that too.

A little while ago someone wrote to me on my blog about how often I express fear and that maybe I should confront it. In this case it's certainly true, I do have a fear of winter and I am totally willing and ready to accept it and face it this year. I'd love to work out where it comes from and what it's all about and how to conquer it. Or a least experience a milder version of it. I hope it's possible

But in the meantime here are some of the ways that I'm going to try and warm up my last month of autumn and my winter a bit:

I'm going to try and raise my level of fitness by going to gym for another session a week or by committing to some home exercise time on a regular basis. Actually maybe I need to a goal to work towards.

I'm going to expand my soup repertoire past the leek and potato and vegetable basics.

I'm going to learn something new. I think it's time for me to leave my comfort zone and experiment.

I'm going to try again to try and meditate.

I'm going to research and buy some quality, not itchy thermal underwear.

I'm going to take a break from knitting socks after I finish this pair and knit a bunch of beanies, mittens, scarves and shawls. Pepper has a list up on the door where family members can place their orders.

I'm going to make myself rug up and get outside whenever it's not windy and raining.

I'm going to plan some trips to Melbourne.

I am going to make up a mantra about decay and rotting being part of the cycle of life and I'm going to write it out and repeat it to myself.

I'm going to (try my hardest to) keep our house clean and tidy.

I'm going to make some nice smelling bath things.

When we're stuck inside for days at a time, I'm going to remind myself that I dream of the slow, quiet days in summer and autumn and try to re-frame the whole situation.

And then I walk out the front door and there are mushrooms growing on the grass. Seriously. I am not a fan of the fungus.

How about you?
Has the season changed where you are?
Do you have any sure fire ways to beat the cold weather blues?
Do you have any super soup recipes, yoga for beginners You-tubes, meditation for dummies apps?
Do you have anything fun planned for the weekend?
I hope so.

See you next week.

Love Kate


  1. The thing that I'm going to try to remember to do this weekend is a Breathing Space. I mention this only because some of the words you threw into your post are the same as the ones rattling around in my own head. An old work mate and I used to cram a Breathing Space into a half hour lunch time. The (design) workplace was stifling and boring and safe and the half hour time limit and possibility was DARING and EXHILARATING. Our breathing spaces were usually arty. Often involved a pair of scissors, found objects, a splurge of paint (Mr Squiggle style), and/or a randomly selected word. After that a camera to 'click' whatever the result. Breaaaathhhhe. x

    PS. It was my birthday this week. Mum has presented me with the suggested tools of sockness.

  2. Yes, the cold weather has certainly set in now! It seems to have happened all of a sudden, even for those of us who were in the same place for the last ten days. I must confess, I am loving it. When I was little, I lived for Summer; now I adore the Winter. I love rugging up, wearing all my lovely knitted hats and socks and snuggling inside when it rains. Of course, it's a little annoying when you have to go outside into the rain to do things, but nothing is perfect!

    Winter is the best time to go to the beach and the best time to stay inside and knit. And it's definitely the perfect time for soup. My favourite Winter soups are barley broth and pea and ham soup: they're so flavoursome and full of goodness.

    I do hope there's a little more Autumn sun left before Winter truly sets in, though.

    Katie @ Katie Writes Stuff

  3. It has just changed here too, (1 degree last week one night!) , I am enjoying being out without fearing about snakes (I am so stressed all summer about them), I know I'll be sick of the cold soon, but I do love the cooler weather, making soups and slow cooking and knitting.

  4. Icebreaker Merino from New Zealand is my Not itchy thermal underwear recommendation from Northern Scotland. I wear the everyday cami from late August to late May. A life changing discovery for me! I find that autumn anxiety difficult, but once I can stop hoping the weather will be good, and just expect it to be cold its OK. its the transition thats hard for me. A soup recommendation Love from the other hemisphere. Lucy x

  5. I don't have winter things coming on, because I'm in se qld, and well, really it's not wintry actually. But it is a bit colder than it was. My job I've had for the past 3 years that has been sucking the life out of me, has finally changed, and I have a bit more time on my hands. So i really dont6know what to be doing with myself in my extra time - exercise, garden stuff, personal time? So much to choose from...

  6. The orange leaves you have photographed are truly energising!!!

  7. I live in Seattle, and also struggle with winter. This year we've had more rain and less light than most years - it's been very hard.

    This is my favorite soup recipe:

    I started using this yoga channel:

  8. Here in my part of the UK we had the start of Spring and it was glorious. Then Winter decided to throw a surprise visit in for a few days and we had strong winds, rain, sleet, snow and hail stones all In the space of a few hours. Spring seems to be making another appearance and we have lovely sunshine again still quite cool though. Winter is a time for hunkering down, keeping warm and making the best use of the short days whilst still keeping a little fresh air in your lungs. Meditation is a skill that takes a lot of learning my mind won't slow down enough to meditate so I read or knit and that's my thinking time. Well done Pepper there is nothing like a list and the best part is ticking off the finished jobs.

  9. Probably not helpful, but long gray New Hampshire winters, and especially February, when it seemed the sun never shone, were the bane of my existence. I decided on projects. Happy, cheery, colorful projects. I made a notebook and kept things to do only in those dreary months. Small projects, like baking something fun, bigger projects, like crocheting something bright and spring-looking. Planting bulbs indoors. Whatever I found cheery. It made all the difference to me. February rolls around, haul out my notebook and pick something. It gave me something to look forward to instead of dreading the gray. Whatever works for you.

  10. What do you have planted in the spiral pattern in the planter/tub whatever? I use the mantra so-ham ..... so on the in breath, ham (pronounced sort of hum) on the out. If you can, visualise your breath coming in, then leaving. Decide to do it 9 times, so you don't set yourself up to fail by wanting to sit for ages. Count on your fingers, or get or make some beads. You can deepen the practise by holding that 'so' breath in your belly for whatever time you can, gradually increase the number of times....if you want might find you slip into a nice meditation space without trying. Soham means identifying oneself with the Universe or ultimate reality. Good luck with your autumn/winter angst.

    1. Thanks you lovely, the spiral is made of rocket seeds always so exciting watching them come up and create the pattern. x

  11. We just moved to somewhere that has central heating thinking it would be mucj warmer tha our we are already discovering its not as warm as we thought. Going to have to find the blankets again

  12. We just moved to somewhere that has central heating thinking it would be mucj warmer tha our we are already discovering its not as warm as we thought. Going to have to find the blankets again

  13. I too can recommend icebreaker. Lovely and soft and not at all itchy. Headspace is a fantastic meditation app. Wonderful guided sessions, modern and not too serious. As for yoga, I love Yoga with Adriene really fun. Hope this helps you beat down those winter fears x

  14. I'm a lover of winter; I find summer hard because I get burnt easily so I'm cautious and resentful about being out during the day. I love the wildness of winter but I must say that to actually really enjoy it you do have to go out in it fearlessly, and with the expectation of having fun.
    Some of my favourite soups are: watercress (not creamy, just a touch of milk); tortilla soup – a fab Tex-Mex thing; garlic soup – chunky, not blended; mushroom - although given your stance on fungus above, perhaps not. And anything clear and spicy, Tom Yum particularly.

  15. Check out 30 Days of Yoga at Yoga With Adrienne on youtube Kates - she's nice. Me, I've never got past day 5, so report back if you do better! Good yoga prog tho x

  16. Throughout the years of enjoying your blog, and seeing how you seem to get more anxiety in winter, I've wondered if you don't have SADD. It may be something to look into.

    Otherwise, here in Wisconsin, Mother Nature seems to be on a surprise kick. Summerlike one day, winterlike the next. And all 4 seasons in one day. I shouldn't be surprised though, it's like that all the time here! LOL

    1. Hello, Mea! Fancy meeting another Wisconsinite here. I've been thankful for the cool days lately -- keeps the spring blossoms around longer.

  17. Beautiful words and thoughts Kate. Our winter is not as severe as your winter yet it still requires a strategy. I find moving as much as I can helps...gardening, walking etc. I am seeing so many pretty autumn photos on Insta yet most leaves are still green at our place. I have just made pumpkin and parsnip soup: basically chopped veg & stock simmered until soft and them zipped through the food processor. Basic but good. Stay warm, happy Sunday x

  18. Oh Kate! I could have written this post. I am embracing all the good things about Autumn whilst trembling underneath at the thought of another dark rain-soaked Winter. Can you get a script for strong Vitamin D. I do find that my mega capsule once a month helps, as does a list of pick me ups. Good luck with it.

    1. I'm doing the strong script for vitamin D thing now that Autumn has arrived and it has been the best!

  19. I too was thinking SADD
    My daughter in law live in Seattle for some months during the grey wet days and really suffered. She and her Hubby had to move back to Austin Texas
    All the very best for you.
    Wishing you colour for your winter x

  20. Yoga with Adriene is the best! She's so encouraging and funny and has an adorable dog, and keeps me motivated no matter what is going on in my life. Also, perfect timing to make a mediation goal as Mindful in May starts tomorrow!

  21. Cuddle duds is a great long underwear brand. And one thing that I have learned to embrace about winter is outdoor fun and exercise, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, running or just being outside brings a smile to my face in the winter faster than most anything else.

  22. I second Yoga with Adriene! Here's the video I first found and stuck to for quite a while (it's really good and really easy! I'm not a flexible person by any means but I could still do it :-) )

    I love winter (although ours is milder than yours, but I dream of moving to a colder climate), but I understand your seasonal suffering as I get it in winter. I've practised the last few seasons on finding things that are unique to summer and that I actually like and it's made it much more pleasant.

    Sarah xx

  23. PS I love sweet potato, apple & rosemary soup. The recipe is from My Family Table by Eleanor Ozich but it's basically roasted apple, garlic, sweet potato & rosemary, added to hot chicken or veggie stock and blended smooth. It's really good!

  24. Kate, I am not often a blog commenter (which is silly really, given that I have one. A blog, that is. And a comment, often!). Anyhoo, in this instance I feel utterly compelled to write and say YES! I have a genuine, all-consuming fear of a season. For me it's summer, the season I loved so much through my childhood and twenties, the season whose joy was stolen from me when I moved to the country almost a decade ago. The season that leaves me feeling crippling fear, despair and depressed (one year, clinically so). I spend three very long months thinking of fires and snakes and lack of water, and dreaming only of escaping the heat, which of course is impossible. I try so hard to celebrate the good of the season - my children squealing under the sprinklers, fruit dripping down chins, icecream melting over hands, all the veges picked from our garden... the Instagram-worthy moments. Sadly, such thoughts don't go very far to quell my constant baseline anxiety. I wish I could say that things are improving but this year a bushfire ripped through our property, destroying most everything and zapping the last of my love for the season, at least where we live it. Instead, next summer I'm granting myself the grace to dislike the season instead of beating myself up for being "so negative". I'm going to do whatever I need to to escape (when I can), and allow myself to mope a little when I can't. I don't really know how else to tackle it. And try to be inspired by your joy at that time of year. I truly hope you are able to find joy through your dreaded season this year.

  25. I just try my best to see the positive in all seasons and embrace those. We're going into our busy growing season here, hoping the rain will not disappear again this summer just when the garden needs it the most. Taking on new skills sounds a great way to weather the season. Plenty of exercise always helps me with the blues. On the hunt this weekend for those thrifty treasures. Have a great one!

  26. Hi Kate,

    The season has shifted here too and winter is my least favourite. I always feel a bit lost as winter begins and I'm not sure how to navigate this change of seasons but soup and meditation sound like a good place to start! I really like the MeditateMe app and these are 2 of my favourite soup recipes

    I'm currently crocheting a colourful blanket to combat winter blues too - I have you to thank for that when you introduced me to crochet a few years ago!

    Rachael xo

  27. On researching thermals - I love Icebreaker. They're a tad expensive, but 100% machine washable merino and I have not found them at all itchy. They do thermal and outerwear so are great for layering, and I have been known to wear the thermal as outer.

    Hope you find the key to a happier winter for you.

  28. Hi Kate, I was trying to work out what you were listening to when you or your Farmer Bren were frying onions on instagram the other day, and then of course it disappeared. It would be great to read a blog about some of your music loves. I'm in need of some chilled out frying music myself. :)

    1. Hi Lucy, it was Don McLean's American Pie records. Still one of my very faves. x

    2. Perfect frying music. Thanks so much for letting me know Kate. :)

  29. I am pretty sure all people feel a bit low in winter, after all we are mammals and our internal clock tells us to slow down and maybe hibernate, but the society we created pushes us to go on as if the seasons did not matter. If you think about it, it is really disconnecting. Follow your rythms and winter is ideal to focus on the home, the cooking and de-cluttering and planning the spring and what you are going to plant where. I know how you feel, I get panic attacks in winter and since spring started here everything seems easier and I am much happier. Anything you need, I am here for you (and many other people, too, I bet). Hugs.


Thanks so much for stopping by...

I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

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