The myriad wild flowering things have largely left the stage. The stragglers, tossed by the wind and rain, are dancing a madcap last hurrah even as I type. Autumn has come, and Winter isn't far behind her.
I shall pick no more blooms this year - the few that remain will gladden more hearts in situ than in my sitting room - but I shall catch them with my camera if I can!
Today, though, I went in search not of photo opportunities but of ripe sweet chestnuts ... and returned empty handed, they're not quite ready. Along the way I got to thinking about what truly heralds the old year's fast approaching end. First sight of geese on the wing? First chunky yarn on the needles? First frost? First crumpet toasted on the fire? What would you add to the list?
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
A quick postscript for any potential sweet chestnut foragers.
You can read how to identify a sweet chestnut tree here. The nuts will not be fully ripe until they've fallen. You're looking for the shiny glint of a dark chestnut-brown amidst the green prickliness of the cases. Discard any paler nuts, they won't last. Once home hang the chestnuts in a mesh bag, somewhere cool and dry, just for a day or three. This will give the starches more time to convert to sugars. To roast cut a cross into the skin of each chestnut, place on a baking tray, and pop into a pre-heated oven - 200C/400F/Gas 6 - for 30 minutes or so, until the skins have split and the flesh has softened. Peel to release the inner kernel, and enjoy! Me, I'm too impatient, I always burn my tongue!