October is a changeable month, like a moody teenager; one minute lapsing into gloom and despondency, the next all sunshine and smiles.
When the winds abate and the showers give way to sparkling sunshine, which still holds surprising warmth, the world seems to bask in the sun’s caress. In the past couple of weeks, I have watched chiffchaffs skitter across the garden, tails a-wagging; heard the distinctive ‘kew kew’ of buzzards circling far overhead; seen ladybirds on seedheads, and bees and butterflies busy collecting nectar.
The red admirals are out in number this month, usually found on one of the asters. They particularly favour the white one which sprang up unbidden a few years ago. This year it has grown up to completely encircle a clump of Centaurea montana, which nestles sleepily in the centre. In the spring I will have to dig up both, untangle them and replant them separately, but their coexistence does make me smile.
As hibernation approaches, comma butterflies make a welcome return to our garden too. Unlike the busy admirals, I have mostly found these resting, slowly beating their wings open and closed; perhaps they are storing up sunlight for the long winter ahead, in favour of nectar.
The cats sunbathe too, making the most of the dry spells, though ever with a watchful eye for something to chase, even if it just a fallen leaf tumbling across the garden.
Slowly, the garden is being wrapped up for winter by the weavings of skilful spiders. Their webs catch raindrops and dew like diamonds, while invisible and unexpectedly long strands reach across vast open spaces, catching and breaking across my face as I stride down the garden.
While the ornamental garden is looking after itself with little interference at this time of year , there is still plenty to do in the kitchen garden, but short evenings and rapidly disappearing weekends engender slow progress. It is surprisingly easy to turn a blind eye to the overgrown beds waiting work, especially on the wild wet days.
We can only do so much, after all, and perhaps we too should be turning our faces to the sun to capture its energy for the dark days ahead rather than focussing on the ground.