Category Archives: Seasons

It’s That Time Again! By Valerie J. Patterson

It happens every year.  There’s simply no escaping it.  You can’t run from it, hide from it, or even overlook it.  Every September–like clockwork–it happens.

What is it?  That time of year when summer ends and fall begins.

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy all of the seasons.  Each one brings about a creative resurgence that I absolutely love!  Winter, with its stark beauty, beckons me outdoors and into the crisp evening air to wonder at all the exquisiteness of a fresh falling snow.  Spring, with its rebirth of everything green and colorful, pulls me into the lushness of showers that result in bursts of vibrant flowers and carpets of green.  Summer, with its endless azure skies, romances me with ocean sprays and huge golden moons lighting up paths in the sand.  Autumn, with its brilliant grandeur, lures me into carefree times of yesterday when I played in the leaves, enjoyed hayrides, and carved pumpkins.

But there is something else that fall does–it comes with shorter days and less rays from the sun.  This is without a doubt the one thing about fall I dislike.  It’s dark when I rise and the darkness comes calling just a short time after I leave the office.  Sigh.  I love the cooler temperatures, but bemoan the fact there is less daylight to enjoy them.

There’s nothing I can do about it.  It happens every single year.  And I so very much look forward to those days when the daylight creeps into longer hours.  Ah yes, that too happens every single year!

Until next time, may a lilting fall breeze lift your hair, caress your face, and gently blow through your mind to inspire you.

To Tree Or Not To Tree, That is the Question by Valerie J. Patterson

To tree or not to tree.  That is the question.  Not quite Shakespearean, but close enough.

The holidays are a lot of work.  You’ve got the baking, the shopping, the wrapping, and the decorating.  And that’s just the preparation.  All of these things tie together to make the holidays festive, memorable, and delicious, but when it’s all over, have you ever wanted to just leave the decorations up a little longer than past New Years?  What’s acceptable?  When is it too long?

The norm in our neighborhood seems to be outside decorations need to come down–or at the very least no longer lit up–after New Years’ Day.  I was a rebel this year and not only left them up but also left them lit up until January 9th.  The weather that Saturday was a pure gift, and I spent the morning out in the front yard while the bubbly hubby was at work.  Removing all the decorations and lights was a bit of a bummer, reminding me how quickly the holidays pass.  When I finished and went inside, I stared at the tree standing proud in the center of my picture window, and I didn’t have the heart to tackle that as well.

One more week, is what I thought that evening as I turned down the lights and sat on the sofa with the bubbly hubby and watched the lights.  Just one more week, then I’ll take it down.

And then I talked with my sister-in-law, Tracy who told me she didn’t want to take down her tree, either.  Instead, she removed the Christmas decorations, replacing them with Valentine’s Day decorations.  She shared a photo and I was convinced.  This past Monday, Steve and I went and bought some Valentine’s Day decorations and this Saturday, I will change my Christmas tree into a Valentine’s tree.

And then–if I am still reluctant to take it down and put it in the closet–I will make it a St. Patrick’s Day tree!

So what about you?  To tree or not to tree?  What’s your choice?

Until next time, may the simplicity and beauty of tree lights bring color to your life!

Quiet Winter Days

P1010919I like the month of January. For me it’s the quiet month. The holidays are still giving off an after glow but if anything that adds to the quiet.

Here in the Pacific NW if we are going to get snow it’s usually in January. And, since we don’t see a lot of the white stuff life slows down.

However even if we don’t get much snow we do get a lot of rainy overcast days that are perfect for a hot cup of cocoa, or coffee, or whatever, and a good book. My favorite things.

It is also a good time for me to get into in the house projects like cleaning out closets and drawers or starting an afghan. I used to start sewing projects at this time of year but I haven’t even taken the sewing machine out to do mending lately. And, not planning to either. ☺ I also don’t get into cooking projects though I can see that it would be a popular one.

The picture is from the old house the back lawn sloped down to a creek where a bench sits and there are open fields that add to the winter wonderland image.

I hope you are all enjoying the first month of 2016. For me each month and season is special but I’m not in a hurry to rush the year along. Instead I’m just enjoying life in the slow lane.



This gallery contains 4 photos.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness … The opening line to Ode to Autumn, a favourite poem of mine by John Keats, may be familiar to many of us from school days. The words always conjure up this time of year for me, … Continue reading

September Sighs

100_6991Slowly the world has slipped into September and autumn, in the process forgetting to bring summer to the UK. Despite the highest ever July temperature recorded this year on a day I was abroad – typical! –­ it’s been a horrible summer with the wettest and coldest August since goodness knows how long. As a consequence the garden hasn’t thrived this year. Many plants have succumbed to wind damage, my tall obelisk blown over at least four times due to the strong winds we’ve had, but thankfully the clematis clinging to it for dear life has survived and still flowering well. We’ve lost many plants: petunias dying early, fuchsias suffering with early leaf drop and other plants just not bothering to flower. The begonias in hanging baskets are suffering with mildew too, thanks to the damp weather. This has been disheartening for both Dave and me but there’s not a lot we can do about the weather. We can control the weeds, but not the sun.

100_6990So now begins the process of putting the garden to bed, putting in cyclamen and pansies for autumn and winter displays, and planting bulbs for next autumn. That said, autumn is a time when a lot of flowers come into their own and our dahlias and chrysanthemums are putting on a fine display, bringing a late splash of colour and a feast for the bees. Looking around this morning every plant had bees on it, some having one on every flower, the air full of buzzing!

100_6996There haven’t been many days I’ve been able to sit outside and enjoy my coffee or read a book. The sunshade has only been put up twice all summer – last year it was in use every day. Also missing this year are the butterflies. We’ve had one or two visit the garden, but nothing like the spectacular numbers of recent years. But it hasn’t been all doom and gloom. One evening last month, I was invited by my daughter Katie to an open-air theatre production of Treasure Island. I’ve seen many plays put on by this amateur dramatic troupe – the Sodbury Players ­– they’re very professional, so I knew I would be in for a good evening.

 “Bring a picnic, a chair, a warm jacket and a brolly,” she said, “it always rains when we perform outside.” The brolly and jacket were not needed. For once this year the evening was glorious. It was warm, although a chilly breeze did get up come dusk. The venue was in the beautiful gardens of an Elizabethan farmhouse, Camers, perched on an escarpment of the Cotswold hills, which affords magnificent views over the countryside across to the city of Bristol in the distance.

I neaPirate Katierly turned the car around on route as of all evenings, this turned out to be flying ant day, and I simply hate flying ants. The air was amass with them but by the time I’d collected the grandchildren, and we’d parked the car in the field below the house, the ants had either found new homes or filled the bellies of the many swifts and other birds feasting on them.

After being entertained by a violinist as we enjoyed our picnics, the play began. Katie’s part was “an angry pirate”. She was brilliant, as were all the actors. One of the things this troupe does well is ad-lib and improvisation when things don’t quite go to plan. They always make it look as if it was meant to happen, this night being no exception. Being Treasure Island, one of the props used was rifles, firing blanks for sound effect. Except one didn’t work. Three times Long John Silver aimed his rifle, three times nothing happened. “Damn,” he said, “all the rain’s made got my gunpowder wet.” (Laughter from the audience.) He raised it again, and in a loud voice shouted, “BANG!” causing much hilarity in the audience and for the cast.

The performance was good, highly entertaining, and it was lovely to be able to spend an evening in the company of my two grandchildren, whom I don’t see a lot of now they are young adults. I do hope they invite me to next year’s performance.

And hopefully next summer will be better all round.

Surprise Visit

bunny02Easter was just over a week ago and I got up a little late. It was a beautiful morning and I have a few spring flowers blooming adding to the joy of the day.

Still a little sleepy I started a cup of coffee and while it was brewing I glanced out of the window and saw this big beautiful bunny. We have a lot of wild ones over at the other house but this one was a lot bigger. Seeing it was a surprise as I have a six foot wooden fence, and except by the gate it is a pretty snug fit at the bottom.

So a nice visit to start the day and a new week. Sometimes it is the small things that make me stop and think what a great world we live in. And what better day then Easter for this little guy to make an appearance?

We’ve been talking quite a bit about Spring but it’s hard not to when the whole world seems to be in bloom. Talking about the bunny… I did find where he had done some nibbling on the plants. Oh well what’s a little pruning in comparisome to the joy he brings as he hops around the yard. I can’t seem to get a picture and haven’t seen him for a few days so he may have moved on to another garden.

Mad March

Well, it’s arrived – March, that is. The sun finally peeking over the backyard fence (note the reference here😉 ) to flood a corner of the patio for a few hours of a morning. In a few weeks’ time it will fill the area completely. And, with relief on my part, at the end of the month in the UK the clocks move forward. Yay! It’s easy to remember: clocks spring forward in Spring, and fall back in the Fall (although I do wish they would do away with this fiasco).

100_6848Which all means it’s time to get working in the garden again (another Yay!) and start bringing it to life for the summer. Of course, there’s already plenty signs of it out there. We’ve had snowdrops in flower since the start of January, an early flush of daffodils with lots more to come out but the crowning glory is our front lawn, which is a wonderful splash of colour from crocuses.

100_6855Every year my husband puts crocus into pots and planters for spring. Once they’ve gone over, he replants the bulbs in the lawn. Over the years, the display increases, to our utter enjoyment and the delight of many passers by. Even children stop and admire them, smiling and pointing as they all walk past on the way to school.

Meanwhile, over in the back garden, the current delight is the hellebores. I’ve several different types in flower; my favourites being a very dark maroon one, which has been in flower for weeks and a lovely plum coloured one whose flowers face up, instead of down like most. I’ve also a pink tinged white one that is in full bud and about to burst open, and several pure white ones. These light up the otherwise boring borders until the hyacinths, followed by bluebells and everything else  appears.


100_6862I never put the garden to bed for winter. I always leave it as it is once summer’s over, never removing dead plants or stems, no pruning or tidying, much preferring to let nature take its course and look after things itself. I mean, Mother Nature doesn’t prune shrubs and sweep up dead leaves, does she?

I firmly believe leaving everything alone helps plants survive the winter; the long, dead stalks and stems protect the base and roots of plants from the frosts, nipping these first rather than attacking lower down. The birds and insects appreciate things left as they are too. It might all look a bit messy and unkempt, but it is worth it if not just for the many species of birds that visit every day. They’re always hunting and foraging amongst the brittle stems and detritus which provide winter shelter for many insects. Also, starting the regime of hacking and cutting back and clipping now provides me with much needed exercise after being cooped up indoors all winter.

This year, howeve100_6860r, plans have had to alter slightly in that during a recent gale, one of the fence panels was destroyed. The whole fence was only replaced three years ago following wind damage. It belongs to our neighbours but we have taken responsibility for repairs this time because Steve is very ill and his wife, Claire, is far too petite and, let’s be fair, far too concerned over looking after Steve to worry about things such as gardens and fencing. Their garden is tidy, and with no dogs or children to worry about, so it’s not a problem. The trouble is, until the panel is replaced, I can’t really begin putting in new plants and shrubs to replace what was damaged or destroyed because they will only be trampled and crushed during any fence repair, so I’m busy racking my brains what to do with that area for the time being. Any suggestions?