There are particular satisfactions that frequent the early weeks of autumn that sometimes get missed if summer lingers longer.
One, is the rain. I love rain in early autumn because it has a character all its own. It's not the disappointing downpour that can, all too often in the UK, blight a summer's day that might have been a hot and cloudless blue. Nor is it the freezing shawl of a wet winter's day in January when the cold damp gets into your bones and it's almost impossible to get warm. Nor is it the sharply chilly showers of Spring that may be good for the garden but are unfriendly enough to deter being out for long without winter waterproofs. Rain at this time of year has a softness to it. Behind it, is still a curtain of residual warmth, that makes the rain feel gentle on the skin and pleasant to be out in.
The landscape is still wearing its late summer garb; the colours glow in the wet and the horizon wears a soft veil of mist, or drizzle, that is very appealing.
The addition of glassy raindrops makes everything beautiful, even ordinary blades of grass.
I particularly love going to sleep against the sound of rain falling at this time of year - actually I love going to sleep against the sound of the rain at any time of year - and I always open the window a bit wider, to hear it properly in the darkness. Waking up to rain is never the same; I don't know why. But falling asleep to the sound of it, is one of life's great small gifts.
The sudden drop in temperature does mean the wistful putting away of summer dresses but fortunately it also welcomes the getting out of blankets and quilts to layer on beds and reminds me to turn my attention from hooking small, knick-knacky, (I hope I didn't hear anyone say, "useless"!!) things like bottle-covers, bags and toadstools ...
... to larger-scale, eminently Useful blankets and throws. My sea-ripple, begun, I am ashamed to say, over a year ago and ruthlessly frogged in January this year, is now reaching the last few happy rows of completion. And will then be used in earnest.
And coming to the end of one blanket project, means the possibility of starting another! Happy Days again! Because, as we all know, a girl can never have too many hooky blankets in her cupboards. Particularly a girl, in a house which is dependent on oil-fired central heating, which last year cost an eye-watering amount of money to run and which I have sworn to reduce drastically this year. This means No Heating At All Until We Are Into October and over the winter it will be restricted to operation only for a certain number of hours a day. This gives a new incentive to blanket-hooking - keeps you warm in the making, as will the result, when finished. Wins on all scores. The new heating régime means not just that Mrs T, over the coming months, will mostly to be found under a wholly or half-hooked blanket, but that H, who likes to wander around the house, in the depths of winter as in summer, either in his pyjamas or in a short-sleeved T-shirt atop his jeans, and with bare feet in either case, is going to have to change his ways! A jumper or fleece perhaps? "What's that?!" A pair of socks? "You must be joking!"
But of course even though the mood of the weather has changed, it's not cold yet. Time enough for those who feel actually to wear some warm clothing is treading on some kind of alien territory, to come round to the idea!
In the meantime, it's reminded me to book the chimney-sweep which I don't usually manage to think of until he's booked up for the autumn and order a stack of logs, still going at reduced summer prices with plenty of time for them to dry out before needing to burn them.
The evenings, for the first time, are now dark enough to make lighting a candle or two appealing and a friendly enhancement to the supper table which, instead of summery salads and ice cream, is beginning to see autumnal jacket potatoes, baked long in a hot oven, so that the outsides are properly crunchy, bubbling fish pies with pillows of mashed potato and my old childhood favourite, ground rice pudding. Ground rice seems to be less universally available than it was but it's worth hunting out. Whitworths make it. If you don't like the normal lumpy texture of a rice pudding but happily eat smooth porridge, this nursery pudding is blissful. It has the smoothness of semolina but tastes much nicer. My mother used to make it for me a lot when I was a child and I still love it. You can add a spoonful of jam, extra brown sugar or may be a swirl of thin cream, but I like it just as it is.
For two reasonably generous servings, use 1 pint of milk (any type - I use semi-skimmed), 1 1/2 oz of ground rice and 1 oz soft brown muscovado sugar. (You can use a bit more rice if you like it thicker but I like it quite runny.) Put this all in a non-stick pan and heat gently, stirring, as you bring it to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer gently for a few minutes to let it thicken. Pour into a pretty bowl and eat with a specially nice spoon. Had a bad day at work? Everything a bit stressful at home? Worries preying on your mind? A bowl of this in a quiet corner at the end of the day is extraordinarily comforting.
You can bake it in the oven, if you like, once the mixture has come to the boil - 20 minutes or so in a greased, oven-proof dish at 170 C, but this gives it a "skin" and I usually prefer it simply done on the hob and eaten straightaway, hot from the pan.
Small satisfactions but an enjoyable part of preparing to adjust happily to the turn of the year.
Wishing you lots of your own early Autumn satisfactions!