I am picking up apples from the garden. Again. I have given bags of the fruit away to everyone who wants them, but still they tumble from the tree. Sometimes they even have the audacity to fall on me as I am gathering their compatriots beneath, the little green bastards. But still it feels like a crime to waste food.
I stand up and stretch. All around the leaves are turning to deeper yellows and oranges, drying into every shade of ochre and brown. In the mornings the mist rolls onto the fields, but the afternoons are bright and sunny â€“ unseasonably so after the damp summer. Beneath the trees the cyclamen crouch, purple harbingers of autumn first, and then winter.
In the greenhouse, he is picking the last of the tomatoes, most of them as green as the apples on the grass. They wonâ€™t ripen now, and even if they do, they will remain bitter. Such a rich harvest the garden is finally offering us and we do not have the heart to throw it back in its face.
Chutney is the only answer. He continues to dismantle the tomato plants as I rush to the supermarket for vinegar, sugar and spices. And then, in the kitchen, we stand together and chop. Apples, tomatoes, courgettes, onions… ginger, coriander seeds, cloves, chilli… once together they barely fit in the pan. And then they simmer on the stove as the afternoon fades to dusk, and the dusk into night.
Tomorrow, I will start to write again. Write properly, I mean, a new novel. The feeling that I can create something worthwhile, weave a little magic even, has come back to me after the long months of waiting, after the long, heart wrenching weeks of the summer. The falling of the leaves is like the closing of a chapter, but I will not waste the words and feelings, rather I will take them forward with me.